'Never give up on your dreams' Doctor Ted
First the Webb Ellis Cup. Now a graduation teddy.
The All Blacks' triumphant World Cup coach, Sir Graham Henry, yesterday added to his collection of accolades at a University of Canterbury graduation ceremony, where he received an honorary Doctor of Education degree.
A long career in secondary school teaching before he became known as the face of New Zealand rugby was the reason for the honour.
While giving his graduation address to hundreds of freshly graduated Canterbury students, Henry said he was "very privileged" to be awarded the degree, as teaching had been the most important job he had ever done.
"I've been involved in education for 40 years - 25 years in a formal sense . . . and the last 10 years educating young men to be better athletes," he said.
"You had the opportunity to change people's lives whether you were trying to do it or not, because you were a role model and people followed what you did."
The usually reserved Henry was jovial as he spoke, and managed to get a few laughs out of the crowd as he joked and poked fun at his weight and role as an "authoritative coach".
"When I first started coaching rugby it was all about 'me and them' - I was a very authoritative coach if you can imagine," he said.
Before taking up the All Blacks coaching mantle in 2004, Henry had taught in secondary schools in Christchurch and Auckland.
He gained a diploma in secondary teaching at the former Christchurch College of Education (now the University of Canterbury's College of Education).
Henry told the graduates to "keep learning on the way, and keep evolving and getting better," as he had after the All Blacks' quarterfinal loss at the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
"Never give up on your dreams and never stop learning and understanding yourself," he said.