3 Aug 2020

Mourners remember former All Black Andy Haden at Eden Park service

6:53 pm on 3 August 2020

Former All Black Andy Haden told the Crusaders' coach Scott "Razor" Robertson that his dying wish was for the Blues to beat the Crusaders at Eden Park in just under a fortnight.

Andy Haden in later years. Photo taken in 2014.

Former All Black Andy Haden. Photo: Photosport

The two teams have been the form franchises in Super Rugby Aotearoa and are heading for a showdown on August 16.

Scott Robertson was at Haden's funeral today and visited him in hospital in the days before he died.

Former All Black and Auckland coach John Hart told mourners at a service at Eden Park today that Haden says his dying wish was for the Blues to win.

"Razor smiled and said 'Andy that sounds like match fixing' to me, to which Andy smiled back and said 'I'm prepared to take the heat on that don't you worry'."

It was perhaps fitting that Haden was thinking of the Blues and Crusaders in his final days. It was revealed at the funeral that his fondest memory in his long career was the 1985 Ranfurly Shield win over Canterbury, dubbed the Match of the Century.

Hart said Haden told him a few weeks before he died that the 1985 challenge had a special place for him.

Haden lifted the Shield after a pulsating match in which Auckland led 24-0 at halftime then held on to win 28-23.

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Photo: RNZ / Vinay Ranchhod

"Andy and I spent hours and hours together how we might beat Canterbury and learn much from the 30 point thrashing they had given us two years before.

"I guess in those days Andy and I were the epitome of everything that Cantabrians didn't like about Aucklanders.

"Despite these perceptions, Andy developed some special relationships with Cantabrians like former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen with whom he would share many thoughts and ideas on the vagaries of forward play."

Born in Whanganui, Haden played a total of 117 matches, including 41 tests, for the All Blacks over 13 years from 1972.

He played for Auckland, a team growing towards its heyday, and Ponsonby club. His All Blacks biography says he was part of the Ponsonby team which won the Gallaher Shield for Auckland club rugby, seven times - "a figure equalled only of Peter Fatialofa of post-war players".

He was known also for his infamous "dive" out of the lineout - pretending to have been pushed - during the 1978 test against Wales.

Former teammate and friend, Bryan "Beegee" Williams, says Haden claimed the dive was revenge for the equally infamous disallowed Deans try of 1905.

Williams said by the time of that Grand Slam Tour, Haden was the best lock in world rugby.

"His dive from the lineout against Wales is now part of rugby folklore. But Andy always had all the answers. Andy thought it squared the ledger for 1905 when Bob Deans was denied a try when he was dragged back into the field of play unfairly which ultimately cost The Originals an unbeaten record on tour."

Hart said he believed Haden was never given the status he deserved, possibly in part because of his combative nature.

"He's never quite been given the status in the game maybe because of the controversies which followed him every now and then."

Equally though, controversy could open doors. He was well known for pushing professionalism in rugby.

Bryan Williams said Haden helped change the way wives, girlfriends and family were treated by rugby authorities.

He recalled how Haden and his wife Trish organised gatecrashing sessions for families to attend after-match functions.

"Back in those days we would come to Eden Park and ladies would be ushered into a little room, the green room, and be given a cup of tea and a scone. The men would go to the after-match and be given beers and food. Andy and (his wife) Trish decided they had had enough of that."

Williams said it was a way to push the rugby authorities "into the twentieth century".

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