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Colin Meads, our most famous All Black
It is claimed that Colin Meads is “the most famous rugby player in the world” – he was born on a farm near Cambridge, New Zealand in 1936.
Sir Colin Meads, better known as “Pine Tree” on account of his size and strength, was an All Black for 15 years. He represented New Zealand 133 times from 1957 to 1971 and played 55 international matches.
At the age of seven Colin Meads moved with his family to a hill country farm near Te Kuiti. Here he quickly became used to the physical outdoor life, combining farm work with his early interest in rugby. He played in the first XV at Te Kuiti High School and later for King Country. In 1957 he was selected for an All Black tour of Australia. He soon became a regular fixture of the All Blacks, playing as lock on tours to Australia, South Africa, France and the British Isles. When not playing rugby he was a farmer and maintained his strength and fitness by such daily physical demands as scrub cutting, shearing and fencing.
As lock, Meads was inevitably in the thick of it on the field and suffered an impressive list of injuries in the line of duty. Most famous of all was the broken arm he received in an “incident” in South Africa in 1970. Nevertheless he played on, his arm in a protective leather brace.
Perhaps an early advocate of the “level playing field” approach, Colin Meads also had the distinction of being only the second player ever to be ordered off the field during a test match at Murrayfield in Scotland in 1967. Perhaps more than any other All Black in recent years, Colin Meads has attracted a large following of loyal fans. For them he is the archetypal New Zealander, a solid and reliable type who gets on the job without any fuss.
In the days before rugby turned professional he played the game for the love of it, proud to represent his country. After hanging up his All Black jersey Colin Meads continued his contribution to the national game by becoming a coach and selector. He might also have had more time to tend to the demands of his King Country farm.