The passing of New Zealand Rugby icon and senior figure Sir Brian Lochore, has illustrated that a player’s career is more than just what they achieve on-the-field. So it is with the utmost respect that Last Word on Rugby pays tribute to one of the All Blacks greats.
Losing his fight with cancer on August 3, 2019, the former All Blacks captain and coach had a much-heralded career. One that would see him rise from near obscurity in Masterton, to lead New Zealand in one of the most successful periods for the Men in Black.
Seen for a lot more than his contribution on a rugby field, the charismatic leader was representative of an era where players wanted to add to the game. And Sir Brian Lochore would do that, and more.
Sir Brian Lochore; with the Utmost Respect
Quality and respectability are the two words associated with All Blacks and NZ Rugby leader, Brian Lochore (1940-2019). His life is highlighted by a term in the national team but, his legacy is as much outside the sports ground, as it is within.
From an early age, he first displayed the skills on a rugby field which fast-tracked B.J. Lochore into both senior (for Masterton) and representative rugby in 1959, with an appearance for his province Wairarapa-Bush. That sole game as a flanker against the British and Irish Lions mind you, caused famed rugby writer T P McLean to identify Lochore as one of the most promising New Zealand forwards the Lions encountered on tour.
After gaining acknowledgment of his quality as a footballer, Lochore would then earn the respect of his peers and his coach. The late, great Fred Allen first noticed his leadership qualities. Making his debut for New Zealand in 1963, two years later he had been chosen captain ahead of front runners Sir Colin Meads, Kel Tremain, and Ken Gray. They immediately pledged their support to him.
Allen explained his choice of Lochore, in his book Fred the Needle. “I was never in any doubt because there was one man I had been studying for some time and I saw in him the qualities of leadership I had been looking for.
“I felt that, given the chance, he would become a great captain.”
The profile of Sir Brian Lochore is full of plaudits, and the below video tribute shows what a talented player he was.
Tributes flow for Brian Lochore, on and off-field
In their media statement, New Zealand Rugby stated the on-field qualities of Lochore. A ball-running number eight forward. A thinking captain, ready to take command of a game, and to set a standard which players like Buck Shelford and Kieran Read aspired to match.
The current All Blacks captain said, “This is an incredibly sad day. Sir Brian was an icon of our game. On behalf of all players, our thoughts go out to his family at this time.”
‘Great’ is often used too liberally when it comes to describing sports people, but the late Sir Brian Lochore epitomized the word. A delightful & great rugby man who reflected & championed all that is good about our game. He will be greatly missed.
— Sir Bill Beaumont (@BillBeaumont) August 4, 2019
Off the field, Sir Brian Lochore earned the respect of his community. That was in the Wairarapa-Bush region, in Masterton [where he will be buried with honours], and around the rugby-globe. His manner, diplomacy, and great intellect singled Lochore out as prominent rugby great. If not in the first-pick All Blacks, then certainly as Manager: a position he held in 1995, when South Africa defeated New Zealand in one of the great Rugby World Cup finals.
On behalf of the Parliamentary Rugby Team I want to pay tribute and acknowledge Sir Brian Lochore and his huge contribution to our Nation as a sportsman, statesman and an inspiration to many Kiwi’s aspiring to be the best they could be in their chosen fields.Thank you Sir Brian. pic.twitter.com/xKkeNR7HsY
— Mark Mitchell (@MarkMitchellMP) August 3, 2019
Outside of rugby he contributed to many organizations including his role as Chair of the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, Chair of the Commission at Kuranui College through challenging times, served on the Hilary Commission (becoming Chair in 1999) and the Sports Foundation and he was very well respected in the farming community.
— We Love Rugby (@RugbyNuus) August 4, 2019
The Lochore Cup named for competition in the Heartland series was introduced in 2002. The 2019 Heartland Championship will hold special significance this season, in his memory.
His name, alongside the Meads Cup (named after Colin Meads, his contemporary) will live on, in the utmost respect of the man, the player/coach, and for the character of Sir Brian Lochore. RIP.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images