4 Aug 2019

All Black great Sir Brian Lochore dies aged 78

10:35 am on 4 August 2019

Former All Blacks' captain and coach Sir Brian Lochore has died at the age of 78.

Sir Brian Lochore during the 2nd Test Match, All Blacks v France. , Westpac Stadium, Wellington,20 June 2009. Photo:PHOTOSPORT

Sir Brian Lochore at the All Blacks versus France test at Westpac Stadium in Wellington in 2009. Sir Brian has died at his home in Wairarapa. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

He had been suffering from cancer.

Sir Brian's wife, Lady Pam, and the couple's three children said they were mourning, but were relieved his suffering had ended. They wanted to express their gratitude for the care and support the family has received since Sir Brian's diagnosis.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said Sir Brian passed away surrounded by family.

"We have lost a genuine legend of our country, an unwavering figure on the field, and a highly respected figure off it," Mr Tew said.

"It is not over-stating the facts to say that Sir Brian Lochore was the saviour of New Zealand rugby on several occasions and many of us have lost a great mate. Our hearts go out to Pam and their children."

Glowing tributes from Hansen, Read

All Blacks' coach Steve Hansen said Sir Brian was a "wonderful, wonderful" man who led what he considered the best All Blacks' team ever.

"He was a leader and a fantastic ball player and runner with the ball way before forwards were meant to be able to do that," Hansen said.

"I was very fortunate to spend a lot of time with him early on in my coaching career with the All Blacks. He was a guiding light really.

"We shared some great moments and it's those moments we'll remember now.

"He had a wicked sense of humour, but a serious side too... Always a pleasure to share a beer with. He loved a joke - there were some funny moments we had together."

L to R, Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Sir Brian Lochore. All Blacks Squad Announcement at Jade Stadium, Sunday 28 May 2006, Christchurch,

From left, Sir Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Sir Brian Lochore during an All Blacks squad announcement in Christchurch in 2006. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

All Blacks' captain Kieran Read said Sir Brian spent his life giving to New Zealand rugby.

"As a player, captain, and then coached the team to its first World Cup, and as part of the management as well of this most recent team in the last few years.

"It's always hard when you lose a fellow All Black, and in his case it's more than just an All Black."

Former Masterton mayor Bob Francis said Sir Brian was a special son of the Wairarapa.

He said Sir Brian was driven, had an inner strength and was very perceptive. The two were friends since high school.

"He was a guy who always had his feet on the ground so all the fame never really affected him in any way," Mr Francis said.

"He still related so well to everyone in our community and everyone knew him as BJ."

Unbeaten as captain and coach of first Rugby World Cup winners

One of the most influential people in All Black history, Sir Brian captained the team through four years in which they were unbeaten, and then as coach, masterminded the team's successful win of the first Rugby World Cup competition in 1987.

Sir Brian Lochore

Sir Brian Lochore Photo: Photosport

Born in 1940, he was a farmer who lived all his life in Wairarapa, running a sheep and cattle farm in Eketahuna.

He was first selected for the All Blacks to tour Britain and France in 1963 and was a surprise choice to captain the All Blacks in 1966, ahead of better known names such as Colin Meads and Kelvin Tremain.

But he forged a reputation as one of the all-time great captains, leading the All Blacks through an unbeaten run until the 1970 tour of South Africa.

Brian Lochore on the burst in a test against South Africa in 1970.

Brian Lochore on the burst in a test against the Springboks in South Africa in 1970. Photo: Photosport

As a coach, he led the Wairarapa Bush team into rugby's first division for the first time in 1982, and became the All Blacks' coach in 1985.

He coached the team during the first World Cup in 1987, with the side thrashing France in the final by 29-9.

He then managed the team during the 1995 World Cup, when the All Blacks were beaten in the final.

Sir Brian had many interests outside rugby. He was an advocate on conservation issues as chair of the Queen Elizabeth the Second National Trust between 2003 and 2011. He was appointed by the government as a commissioner for the troubled Kuranui School in 1994.

His unique status in New Zealand rugby was acknowledged when one of the cups in the Heartland Championship was named after him.

He was knighted in 1999, and also inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in that year.

Sir Brian is survived by his wife Pam, their children David, Joanne and Sandra, and their eight grandchildren.

The family have requested privacy but said details of his funeral would be released once finalised.

Sir Brian Lochore and wife Lady Pam at the New Zealand Rugby Awards in 2016.

Sir Brian and Lady Pam Lochore at the New Zealand Rugby Awards in 2016. Photo: Photosport