WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand Rugby plans to honour All Blacks great Colin Meads with a series of tributes at the weekend, while lock Sam Whitelock will donate his number five jersey from the Bledisloe Cup clash against Australia to the respected player’s family.
Meads wore number five for 47 of his 55 tests and Whitelock’s donation represents a fitting tribute to one of his predecessors, who died last Sunday at the age of 81 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the team would also recognise Meads at Otago Regional Stadium in Dunedin, where a minute’s silence will be observed before the game, the second clash between the sides in the Rugby Championship.
All teams in New Zealand’s semi-professional and amateur provincial competitions would also observe a minute’s silence before their games, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said in a statement.
“It’s an appropriate mark of the status of the man that all provincial championship games up and down the country will pause this weekend to honour... Colin’s memory,” NZR chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement.
“Colin has played a unique role with All Blacks’ teams through the decades. He has been a constant source of inspiration to the current team and their acknowledgment of him on Saturday in Dunedin will be a heartfelt occasion.”
Meads’ funeral will be held on Monday in his hometown of Te Kuiti.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O'Brien