All Black legend Sir Fred Allen dies aged 92
Fred 'The Needle' Allen: 1920-2012NEIL REID
All Black great Sir Fred Allen has passed away.
Sir Fred, who at age 92 was the oldest living All Black, had been battling ill health for some time and was in full-time care on the Whangaparoa Peninsula.
He passed away at 3.30am on Saturday morning.
Despite illness, Sir Fred tried to remain as active as ever in recent times.
Earlier this week he unveiled a bridge on Sir Fred All Walk of Honour at Auckland Memorial Park, Silverdale.
Both his late wife, Norma, and son, Murray, are buried at Auckland Memorial Park.
Sir Fred, who was born in Oamaru in 1920, was one of the great servants of New Zealand rugby.
He is among the rare group of players to have both played in and coached the All Blacks.
The star first-five played 21 matches for the All Blacks, including six tests, between 1946-49.
He signalled his retirement from test rugby by throwing his rugby boots into the sea while on the All Blacks' return from their disappointing 1949 tour to South Africa.
He would have debuted for the All Blacks earlier in life had it not been for the outbreak of World War II in 1939.
Prior to making the All Blacks, he was one of the star players of the legendary New Zealand Defence Force's Kiwis rugby team which toured Europe in the months following the end of WWII.
The side also included his great mate and fellow future All Black sensation, Bob Scott.
After ending his playing days, Sir Fred took up coaching.
He was an All Black selector between 1964-65 and then coached the men in black between 1966-68.
His coaching tenure, which saw him known as The Needle, included the All Blacks winning all 14 tests under his control.
Allen's tremendous service to New Zealand rugby as a player, coach and administrator was honoured many times, including in late 2002 when he was presented with a silver tray in a special lifetime achievement award ceremony at the New Zealand Rugby Football Union's awards.
''I was thrilled by that,'' Allen told Sunday News at the time.
''Over the years I've probably been a little outspoken at times toward the New Zealand Rugby Football Union.
''I've felt at times they haven't done the right thing. At times it seems that there had been a bit of jealousy toward me that I was unbeaten as a coach.
''So to get this type of recognition from the NZRFU was something special to me.''
Author and close friend Les Watkins - who co-wrote last year's top-selling book, Fred The Needle: The Untold Story of Sir Fred Allen - today remembered his mate as ''one of the greatest gentlemen in the business''.
''He is one of the finest, most-inspiring men I have ever come across,'' Watkins said.
''He remade New Zealand rugby after the war. He played a big role in resurrecting rugby and promoting it after the war.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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