Williams, popularly known as ‘Beegee’, joins Richie Guy (elected 2001); Rob Fisher (2011); John Sturgeon (2012); Andy Leslie (2015); Sir Graham Henry (2016); Richard "Dick" Littlejohn (2018); and Mike Eagle (2019) as NZR’s current Life Members.
A proud Samoan and Rarotongan New Zealander, Williams joins the exclusive club after his nomination by the Auckland Rugby Union was accepted by NZR’s members.
Auckland Rugby Union Chair Stuart Mather said:
“In my term as Chair of Auckland Rugby, it would be hard to think of anyone that has made a more monumental contribution to rugby than Sir Bryan Williams. He has without a doubt dedicated his life servicing the game. He has been a catalyst for rugby within the Pacific communities and was at the forefront of the creation of Super Rugby team Moana Pasifika. He has made an immense contribution as a player, a coach and an administrator of the game.”
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Mark Robinson said:
“Sir Bryan is a special New Zealander and proud of his Samoan and Rarotongan heritage. He represents his community with real mana. And his contribution to our game stretches well past his legendary feats as a player for Ponsonby, Auckland and the All Blacks. He has coached with Auckland, Manu Samoa, and the Hurricanes, and continues to give back to rugby at every level of the game.
“He has been an advocate for the Pacific Islands in rugby and a great ambassador for New Zealand Rugby for a long time.”
Williams is best known for his exploits on the rugby field and particularly his feats during the All Blacks tour of South Africa in 1970 where his trademark sidestep, blistering speed and strength saw him score 14 tries in 13 matches. He had emerged through his beloved Ponsonby Rugby Club and into the Auckland representative team in 1969 as an 18-year-old fresh out of Mt Albert Grammar School. He would go on to play 113 games for the All Blacks including 38 Tests. His 66 tries were an All Black record until Sir John Kirwan eventually surpassed his mark.
Williams went on to play 269 first class matches and score 137 tries, but his contribution to rugby carried on past his playing days as he devoted himself to coaching firstly with Auckland and then with Manu Samoa.
In five seasons coaching Auckland with Maurice Trapp, Williams compiled a record without peer in New Zealand provincial rugby between 1987 and 1991. He was closely involved with Manu Samoa at the 1991 Rugby World Cup as a technical adviser where his background as a lawyer was also invaluable in administrative and organisational levels and he courageously argued the case for Samoa against the international heavyweights, even New Zealand, when he felt the smaller nation was being overlooked. In 2000-01 he was the assistant coach to Graham Mourie with the Hurricanes in the Super 12 and he continues to coach Auckland development sides and to volunteer is time at his beloved Ponsonby club.
Made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2018 for services to rugby, Williams, CNZM, MBE, can now add NZR Life Member to his impressive CV.
Read more about Williams’ rugby career HERE.