Wayne "Buck" Shelford
Wayne gained his first experiences of team sport as a teenager, where he played for a local rugby league team in his home town of Rotorua. Although he was not aware at the time, this experience was to provide a stepping stone for Wayne into a rugby career, which would eventually see him as one of the world's most prominent loose forwards.
Quoting from the 1989 Rugby Almanac 'The All Black captain W T Shelford, with his excellent ball skills, powerful running and sense of anticipation, must rank as the best player ever seen in this position during the last decade'.
Wayne began his representative rugby career in 1978 where he played for the New Zealand Colts and the New Zealand Combined Services. He then went on to play for the Auckland Rugby Union in 1982 where he made 28 appearances. In 1985 Wayne was voted Player of the Year and it was also in this year that he joined the North Harbour Rugby Union (a break-away Union) and within three years Wayne led North Harbour to first division status for the 1988 season. He included three tries in his side’s conclusive defeat of Hawkes Bay to clinch promotion late in the season.
Wayne made his test debut in 1986 against France with a typically barging try. In 1987 he played in five out of six World Cup matches, scoring two tries in the semi-final match against Wales in Brisbane. He then played against Australia in Sydney and at the end of the season he gained the honour of leading the New Zealand team on their short tour of Japan where he appeared in all five matches. Wayne appeared in 32 matches (13 tests) for the All Blacks and held captaincy from 1987 until 1990 when he was dropped in controversial circumstances.
He then joined Northampton Rugby Club in England as a player and coach. During his time there the senior team, which had an average age of only 23 years, twice made the Cup Final after lifting itself up significantly in the rankings.
As well as representing the All Blacks, Wayne also represented the New Zealand Maori All Blacks (first in 1985) and then captained the 1988 tour.
Wayne Shelford is one of the toughest men ever to set foot on a rugby field and in 2007 he was faced with an opponent tougher than him – cancer. Wayne is now in remission and has begun to speak out for the first time about his fight for his life.