Kane pays tribute to All Blacks great Haden
Former New Zealand captain Andy Haden, “a great supporter of the World Rugby Classic”, lost his long battle with cancer last week. He was aged 69.
Haden, who played 41 Tests for the All Blacks from 1972 to 1985, was instrumental in bringing the first New Zealand team to Bermuda to compete in the Classic in 1989.
John Kane, the Classic president, recalls the 2am phone call he received from Haden which led to the former lock leading a star-studded All Blacks side to victory in the tournament that year.
Among the decorated names that graced the National Sports Club, where the Classic was previously held, were Stu Wilson, Bernie Fraser, Bill Osborne, who is now the New Zealand Rugby president, Murray Mexted, Mark Shaw, Andy Dalton and John Ashworth.
“In a strong Kiwi accent I was told, as I woke from a deep sleep, ‘you can't call it the World Rugby Classic if New Zealand is not represented!' Who is this calling at this unearthly hour?' I managed to utter and was told, ‘this is the All Black Andy Haden'.
“The invitation was immediately issued and an unbelievable team of All Blacks talent arrived in Bermuda for the second Classic.
Kane added: “One of my great memories was standing on the touchline at the National Sports Club and saying to the person next to me: “Did you in your wildest dreams ever imagine you would see a star-studded New Zealand rugby team doing the haka in Bermuda?”
“The person I spoke to couldn't reply as the tears rolled down his face!”
Haden, who went on to serve as manager of the All Blacks at the Classic for many years, captained his country on eight occasions. He earned his place as a fixture in the New Zealand second row after making his Test debut in 1977 against the British and Irish Lions in Wellington, New Zealand.
Kane remembers Haden being just as competitive on the golf course as he was on the rugby pitch.
“Andy was also a fierce competitor on the golf course in the Classic's golf tournament at Riddell's Bay where, if New Zealand were not the winners, he rechecked the scores to make sure an error hadn't occurred.
“In the early days of the Classic his wife, Trecha, also came to the Classic and to Trecha, and their two children Christopher and Laura, all of us involved in the Classic send our deepest sympathies on the loss of a husband and father, a loss which has also left a big hole in the Classic family all over the world.”