WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The former All Blacks captain Wayne “Buck” Shelford was knighted Monday in the New Zealand civil honors list commemorating the Queen’s Birthday public holiday.
Shelford, who has recovered from lymphoma, was honored not only for his services to rugby but for his work as a men’s health advocate, in youth suicide prevention and as a champion of the Maori language. He also works in organizations providing community housing for the disabled and respite care for first responders.
Now 63, Shelford had an unbeaten record as All Blacks captain between 1987 and 1990.
He is credited with revitalizing the All Blacks’ haka and was famous for his physical toughness. In 1985, Shelford was a member of the All Blacks team which lost 16-3 to France in a match which became known as the “Battle of Nantes” for its brutality.
He lost four teeth early in the match and his scrotum was torn open by a boot. Shelford asked the All Blacks physiotherapist to stitch up the tear and returned to the field before being forced off again with concussion.
He was dropped from the All Blacks in 1990, at what many fans thought was still the height of his career and for years afterwards “Bring Back Buck” banners were ubiquitous at All Blacks matches.
“It’s a great accolade, a great honor,” Shelford said of his knighthood. “It’s one of those things you never think will happen — I’d never thought about it before.
“I’ll wear it with pride for the family and all the organizations I work with. They’ll carry that with them because they’re my biggest supporters.”
Also, tennis player Ruia Morrison has been made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, the equivalent of a knighthood.
In 1957, aged 21, Morrison traveled to England to play at Wimbledon, becoming the first indigenous Maori and New Zealand woman to do so. She reached the quarterfinals that year, the third round in 1958 and the fourth round in 1959.
Morrison also won 13 national titles and represented New Zealand in the Fed Cup.
“All I wanted to do was play tennis and just stay on a tennis court as long as I could,” Morrison said. “It didn’t matter whether I won or lost. I just wanted to play.”
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