JOHANNESBURG - SA Rugby president, Mark Alexander, on Sunday paid tribute to Sir Colin Meads, New Zealand’s player of the 20th century – and one of the greatest of any nation of all time – who passed away on Sunday, aged 81.
He was as famous and as revered in South African rugby circles as he was in his homeland, touring South Africa twice and playing against the Springboks in 10 of his 55 tests. He visited South Africa with the All Blacks in 1960 and 1970 and opposed the Springboks at home in 1965.
“He was arguably the best of our best and fiercest rivals in the 20th century and everyone in every rugby community in our country was aware of Colin ‘Pinetree’ Meads,” said Alexander.
“He achieved legendary status even while still playing and his reputation for ferocious and fearless play was the epitome of what New Zealand rugby stands for in South Africa.
“As much as New Zealand rugby is in mourning today, so is South African rugby. On behalf of the whole South African rugby community I would like to pass on our condolences to his widow, Lady Verna and the Meads family and the entire New Zealand rugby community. We are united in memory today.”
In a career that spanned almost two decades, Sir Colin played 361 first class matches, a feat only recently surpassed by Keven Mealamu.
He appeared for the All Blacks 133 times in all matches, 11 as captain.
Brent Impey, chairman of the New Zealand Rugby board, said: “He will be remembered as possibly the most treasured legend of our game.”