Colin Meads - the original All Black Legend
Colin "Pinetree" Meads - a man who commands total respect from rugby fans around the globe. His name is synonymous with the beginning of New Zealand rugby, and the beginning of All Black greatness. Having sold his farm in the Waikato, Colin now lives in Hamilton and is still very involved in rugby issues
Rugby ran in the veins of the Meads family. Colin's brother Stan debuted in 1961 for the All Blacks against the French, and even took his place in the 1962 test against Australia. From this date on, nothing could stop the scary second row forward in the number 5 jersey. He was a formidable figure to be faced in any game. He stood 6'4" tall (hence the nickname Pinetree) with 16 stone of pure aggression. He was consistently fit, mobile, aggressive and determined. Described by Fergie McCormick in his biography as "a terrible man with the silver fern on. He regarded the All Black jersey as pure gold. He could do so many things so much better than anyone else in a match that he stood alone as the greatest player I have ever known". A legend in New Zealand rugby, Colin Meads had a record 55 internationals for New Zealand, 47 of these as a lock, five on the side of the scrum and two at number eight. His passion for the silver fern on his jersey was conveyed to the world and never before had New Zealand seen such pride in a sportsman representing their country. Many would agree Colin Mead's passion for New Zealand rugby is why New Zealanders as a whole have an almost religious reverence for their national game.
After his retirement, Meads successfully coached King Country and was a North Island selector 1982-85. He was manager of the All Blacks, his tenure including the World Cup in South Africa. At the previous cup, in Britain in 1991, he had represented New Zealand at the formal opening ceremony at Twickenham. Meads stood down from administration when the NZRFU council was replaced by a board at the beginning of 1996
Numerous biographies have been written about Meads, but the fans' bible is by Alex Veysey, titled `Colin Meads, All Black'. On Colin Mead's birthday the biggest of his fan clubs in New Zealand gather in their number 5 jerseys and recite from Veysey's bible. They drink a toast to the great man, and relive his technical triumphs and his fearless attitude on the pitch. Family-orientated and renowned for promoting his team members before himself, through fame he remained true to himself and his family with his humility and straightforwardness.
Colin Meads grew up on a farm where, it is rumoured, he ran up hills with a sheep under each arm as part of his training. Now he has returned to his childhood home. This quiet and unassuming hero can be found either on the farm, watching his beloved King Country play, or on New Zealand television adverts promoting investing in Forestry, for Pinetree Investments. He is always in demand for Rugby Hall of Fame dinners and interviews, and attended the Steinlager awards, for which he received an achievement award. You can be guaranteed that when Colin Meads talks, the room is hushed. Past and present rugby players are refreshed by his simplistic and logical approach to rugby and life in general. At the above awards, when commenting on the seriousness of the All Black losses at the 1999 World Cup, he is said to have reminded people "It is just a bloody game!"
Colin Meads is a legend and an icon of the game, not only for 15 years of dedicated rugby, but because he has inspired young and old worldwide. He is up there on the pedestal of rugby greatness holding the most special place in the hearts of New Zealanders for his contribution to the sport they adore.