IRB Hall of Fame - Induction No 4 - Sir Wilson James Whineray KNZM, OBE, MBA, BCom (1935-) New Zealand

Personal details

- Born: 10 July, 1935 at Auckland, New Zealand
- Parents – Bruce and Ida.
- Wilson is the 3rd of five boys. Brother Bruce (2nd in the family) was a NZ hockey representative, and for a period captained the national hockey team.
Education - Auckland Grammar School; Massey Agricultural College; Lincoln College. MBA in business management as a Harkness Fellow at Harvard University.
- Married to Elisabeth (nee Seymour). Children James (born just before the 3rd test at Bloemfontein in 1960, in Palmerston North), Kristen, Susan.
- Other sports: Boxing - NZ Universities heavyweight boxing champion in the 1970s
- Nickname: Noddy
- Awards: NZ Sportsman of the Year in 1965. OBE in 1962; knighted in June 1998 for services to sport and business. 2002 inducted in the NZ Business Hall of Fame; 2003 Elected patron of NZRU; 2007 Inducted to the IRB Hall of Fame
Rugby Career

- Main position - Loose-head prop, though he played occasionally at No.8 (in school he started at scrum-half under coach Jim Bracewell)
- Provincial rugby: Wairarapa (3 matches 1953), Mid Canterbury (9 matches 1954), Manawatu (7 matches in 1955), Canterbury (16 matches 1956-57), Waikato (7 matches 1958), Auckland (61 matches 1959-66), South Island (1957), North Island (6 matches 1958-65),
Note: His nomadic rugby career arose through the requirements of training as a farm appraiser.
- Representative rugby: NZ under-21s in tour of Ceylon 1955, NZ under-23s as captain in Japan in 1958, All Black trials (15 matches), NZ Universities (1956-57) and New Zealand. He also played for the Centurions club of NZ, the NZ Barbarians, in the 1964 South African Jubilee games and was captain of the South African Barbarians against Natal in 1960.
- He coached successfully Grammar School OB  RFC (1970-73) and Onslow RFC in Wellington (1974).

Playing career highlights

- In 1956, at the age of 21, he was on winning sides for Canterbury and the NZ Universities against South Africa.
- He played for Auckland sides in their Ranfurly Shield reign of 1960-63.
- He also skippered the Auckland side that took the shield from Southland in 1959.
- Though first capped on the 1957 tour of Australia, a year later he led the under-23s and became New Zealand captain for the 1958 series against Australia when he was aged only 23, scoring two tries in his first match as skipper. He became the longest-serving captain and possibly, the greatest, in New Zealand.
- Arguably the high point of his career on the 1963-64 tour of Britain and France. "Willie Away" became the All Black call, coming from a lineout peel in which he was a principal component, running through from a scrum half position to set up attacks in midfield. His handling was so good that in the final game of tour, against the Barbarians at Cardiff, he raced away to score the last try with an outrageous dummy and was hoisted on Barbarian shoulders and carried from the field, applauded by players and spectators alike, who sang: "For he's a jolly good fellow."
Rugby statistics

- All Black debut - 18 May, 1957 v New South Wales at Sydney aged 21 years, 312 days.
- Test debut - 25 May, 1957 v Australia at Sydney aged 21 years, 319 days.
- Last test - 18 September, 1965 v South Africa at Auckland aged 30 years, 70 days.
- Total number of matches for New Zealand 77
- Tests 32 (30 as captain).
- All Blacks games (non tests) 45 (37 as captain).
- Points - tests - six (twotries). Other All Black games - 12 (three tries, one drop goal)
- Acclaimed as New Zealand's greatest captain (won 23, drew three and lost five of the 30 tests in which he was captain. Second most-capped All Black captain – 30 occasions. Sean Fitzpatrick top with 51 tests as captain.
- The third New Zealander to reach 30 caps behind Don Clarke and Colin Meads.
- From Test Debut to final test he missed only three test matches – playing in 32 out of the 35 tests*.
* The three tests he missed were when he made himself unavailable in 1964 to finish his degree.


The 1957 New Zealand Tour of Australia
The 1960 New Zealand Tour of South Africa & Australia
The 1962 New Zealand Tour of Australia
The 1963-964 New Zealand Tour of UK, France & Canada

Breakdown by nation

Against    Matches    Try    Points    Won    Drawn    Lost
Australia    10    2    6    8    1    1
British & Irish Lions    4    0    0    3    0    1
England    3    0    0    3    0    0
France    4    0    0    4    0    0
Ireland    1    0    0    1    0    0
Scotland    1    0    0    0    1    0
South Africa    8    0    0    4    1    3
Wales    1    0    0    1    0    0
Total    32    2    6    24    3    5

Professional career

He became a successful businessman and chaired the board of one of the country's largest industries, Carter Holt Harvey. He served on the boards of several other companies, and was the managing director of NZ Wool Marketing Corporation in 1973-74. He was also chairman of the Hillary Commission, the body set up by the Government to oversee elite sport funding. From 1980 he was on the Eden Park Stadium board of control and after serving rugby in a number of advisory roles he became the New Zealand Rugby Union patron in 2003. He has now retired as Chairman of both the National Bank of New Zealand, Carter Holt Harvey and as a Director of Auckland International Airport Ltd but still serves as a Director on the  APN News and Media Ltd and Nestle Ltd

What he said:

"The world will still go on, the sun will shine, if we get beaten."

“A question is whether leadership can be taught? Is it learned or hereditary? Clearly it’s a combination of all those things. There have been some studies of military and business that show leadership can be taught, can improve leadership qualities without a doubt. In my case, I had a huge amount of help through my term as captain of the All Blacks team, which I did for about eight years. At the time I thought I was a pretty average kind of captain, but as you go on and learn from the experience, the mistakes, you learn from them and how to improve. By the time I finished I was a useful captain, largely because there was nothing that could happen on the field that I hadn’t had to deal with in an earlier game.” (Times Online interview)

“Sport at Grammar has much to be proud of. What other activity has done so much to cross social, cultural and racial divides so well with so little fuss. What other activity has engendered such a feeling of pride in our school community. Consider the contribution that sport has made to the development of character in our adolescent boys - a will to succeed, respect for the rules and ethos of the game, the mental and physical toughening that flows from bumps, bruises, a black eye, cut lip - when you know you must get up and push on. All this lies at the heart of the game as we know it and for these reasons we continue the love affair with sport that began when we were boys.”  (Address at the opening of the new pavilion at Auckland Grammar School in 2007)