Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wayne Shelford

Wayne Thomas "Buck" Shelford (born 13 December 1957 in Rotorua) is a former rugby union footballer and coach who represented and captained the All Blacks in the late 1980s. He is also credited with bringing about the improved performance of the All Blacks traditional "Ka Mate" haka.

Shelford made his Test debut for the All Blacks later that year against France in a 19–7 victory in Toulouse, and then was a notable victim of the infamous "Battle of Nantes" in the second Test. Roughly 20 minutes into the match, he was caught at the bottom of a rather aggressive ruck, and an errant French boot found its way into Shelford's groin, somehow ripping his scrotum and leaving one testicle hanging free. He also lost four teeth in the process. Incredibly, after discovering the injury to his scrotum, he calmly asked the physio to stitch up the tear and returned to the field before a blow to his head left him concussed. He was substituted and watched the remainder of the game from the grandstand where he witnessed the All Blacks lose 16–3. To this day Shelford has no memory of the game.

In 1987, the first Rugby World Cup was held in New Zealand. Shelford played in five of the six All Blacks games and was a member of the team that won the final against France 29–9.

Shelford took over as All Black captain after the World Cup, first captaining the side during the 1987 tour of Japan. During his captaincy from 1987 to 1990, the All Blacks did not lose a game, only drawing once against Australia in 1988.

Upon becoming captain, Shelford brought his teammates to Te Aute College, a Māori school, to see the students perform a traditional haka. Although the All Blacks had been performing the haka at the start of their matches since the team's inception, it was Shelford who taught them the proper way to perform the "Ka Mate," the haka they still use to this day at the start of their matches.