End of One Era, Beginning of Another

All Black captain Tana Umaga has officially retired from the game aged 34, with a stellar career behind him. “Already he has been admitted by his countrymen into the exclusive band of great NZ captains, along with Colin Meads, Sean Fitzpatrick…and the first All Blacks skipper, Dave Gallaher,” says the Observer. “The contrasting emotions that the [O’Driscoll spear tackle] episode inspired in the rugby world placed him out on an edge where few find themselves and from where fewer still return in triumph.” In addition to 74 Tests and 37 tries, Umaga was the first ever NZ player to be awarded the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin trophy for fair play. Family friend Ken Laban and former All Black and race relations conciliator Chris Laidlaw credit Umaga as changing the face of New Zealand rugby in a profile on the Captain on stuff.co.nz. “People see a Samoan player and they typecast him as rough and ready to rumble – they don’t see them in the captaincy or a leadership role,” says Laban. “People don’t see a lot of our people in the boardroom. They see them on the factory floor, they see them carrying the ball up and making the tackle but they rarely see them leading the team out and speaking on behalf of the country. That’s the legacy I reckon Graham Henry and Tana are going to leave behind.”

Tags: All Blacks  Chris Laidlaw  Colin Meads  Dave Gallaher  Graham Henry  Ken Laban  NZ Rugby  Observer (The)  Pierre de Coubertin trophy  Sean Fitzpatrick  Tana Umaga