Wed, Mar 14, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Former All Black Michael ‘Jock’ Hobbs dies aged 52

AFP, WELLINGTON

Michael “Jock” Hobbs, a leading figure in New Zealand rugby union who helped secure his country’s bid to host last year’s World Cup, died aged 52 yesterday after a long battle with cancer, his family said.

Hobbs captained the All Blacks four times during a 21-Test career, but he was best known as an administrator, overseeing the World Cup bid that culminated in New Zealand ending a 24-year drought at the tournament in October last year.

“This was possibly his finest hour. Winning the trophy was certainly one of New Zealand’s finest hours,” New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said, adding that he was “incredibly sad” at Hobbs’ passing. “Jock was a man whose determination drove him to many successes in his life. It was that determination that saw him wage war against his illness for a prolonged period.”

Hobbs, the brother-in-law of Wallabies’ coach Robbie Deans, was chairman of the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and last year’s Rugby World Cup until 2010, when he stood down to concentrate on his battle with leukemia.

In a statement issued through the NZRU, Hobbs’ family announced he died in Wellington Hospital yesterday afternoon.

“Our family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support we have received over the last week,” the statement said.

NZRU chairman Mike Eagle hailed Hobbs as “an incredible New Zealander.”

“Rugby has lost a great friend. We will all miss his integrity, dogged determination and incredible sense of justice,” he said.

Hobbs, an open-side flanker, broke into the All Blacks team in 1983 and he captained the side twice against Argentina in 1985.

He led a rebel tour to South Africa in 1986, a decision he later regretted, but was restored to the All Blacks later that year, captaining them twice against France.

Hobbs retired in 1987 after a series of concussions, going on to use his skills as a qualified lawyer in sports administration.

He is survived by his wife, Nicky, and four children.

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