All Blacks legend Hobbs passes away
March 13, 2012
Jock Hobbs presents Richie McCaw with his 100th cap © Getty Images
Former All Blacks skipper and New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Jock Hobbs has died after losing his battle with cancer.
The 52-year-old was an instrumental part in bringing the recent World Cup to New Zealand and played a key role during the tournament when he presented Richie McCaw and Mils Muliaina with their 100th caps. Hobbs has battled leukaemia since 2006 - during which time he was chairman of the NZRU. After complications arose in 2010, Hobbs resigned from his position on the NZRU board to focus on his health.
Hobbs passed away on Tuesday afternoon with his family confirming the news through a statement: "Our family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support we have received over the last week and in particular, express our gratitude to all the staff at Wellington Hospital that were involved in Jock's care."
Flanker Hobbs won 21 Test caps for the All Blacks which he accrued between 1983 and 1986 - with four as captain - and was a constant feature for Canterbury during the 1980s. His career ended prematurely at the age of 26 after suffering one too many concussions.
Hobbs then turned his hand to a legal career before joining the NZRU in 1995. He played a key part in tying down the country's elite players to the NZRU at the turn of professionalism and also helped form Super Rugby.
Prime Minister John Key paid tribute to the legend saying: "I have known Jock for a long time and have enjoyed his company on many an occasion. We have talked and laughed and discussed the country's political and sporting problems. I will miss him very much.
"Jock was the man who convinced Dublin that New Zealand should host last year's Rugby World Cup. This was possibly his finest hour. Winning the trophy was certainly one of New Zealand's finest hours.
"Jock was a man whose determination drove him to many successes in his life. It was that determination that saw him wage war against his illness for a prolonged period."
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew added: "Rugby has lost a great friend. We will all miss his integrity, dogged determination and incredible sense of justice."
And Australian Rugby Union CEO John O'Neill also paid tribute to Hobbs. "Jock was a tremendously proud New Zealander who had an amazing passion for Rugby and was a great friend and ally of Australian Rugby Union," O'Neill said. "He was one of the pivotal men who helped win the Rugby war in 1995, ensuring players in New Zealand remained in the establishment of Rugby.
"In 2002 when he returned as Chairman of NZRU he was highly instrumental in restoring a good constructive relationship with ARU. Jock was also at the forefront of his country's bid to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which was a resounding success for Rugby and New Zealand last year.
"He will be greatly missed."
IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Jock's contribution to New Zealand Rugby as a player and chairman of the New Zealand Rugby Union and to world Rugby as an IRB Council Member has been exceptional. Among numerous highlights, he provided the vision, passion and leadership that secured New Zealand the right to host RWC 2011 and as chairman of RNZ 2011 those qualities laid the foundations for a hugely successful tournament of which New Zealanders and the global rugby family can be proud."
"On behalf of the IRB and the global rugby family, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Jock's wife Nicky, his family and friends at this sad time."
Hobbs is survived by his wife Nicky, sister of former All Blacks fullback and Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, and four children.
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