Wayne Smith (rugby player)

Wayne Ross Smith CNZM (born 19 April 1957) is a former New Zealand rugby union coach and former player. He had been assistant coach of the All Blacks for 16 years. He is regarded as one of the greatest coaches in history. Nicknamed "The Professor", Smith is considered the All Blacks tactical genius and has helped engineer two Rugby World Cup triumphs by helping coach them to victory at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He is one of two coaches (Steve Hansen being the other) to win two back-to-back Rugby World Cups. He coached the Crusaders to win the 1998 and 1999 Super Rugby title. He also helped the Chiefs to win the 2012 Super Rugby title and 2013 Super Rugby title.

Wayne Smith
Wayne Smith CNZM (cropped).jpg
Smith in 2012
Birth nameWayne Ross Smith
Date of birth (1957-04-19) 19 April 1957 (age 62)
Place of birthPutaruru, Waikato, New Zealand
Height1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight78 kg (12 st 4 lb)
SchoolPutaruru High School
UniversityWaikato University
Rugby union career
Position(s) First five-eighth
All Black No. 806
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
Canterbury ()
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1980–85 New Zealand 17 (6)
Teams coached
Years Team
ASD Rugby Casale
Benetton Treviso
All Blacks
Northampton Saints
All Blacks (asst. coach)
Chiefs (asst. coach)
All Blacks (asst. coach)


Growing up in Putaruru, Smith played for Waikato Secondary Schools in 1974, then worked his way up to the province's colt and B teams. He studied at Waikato University in Hamilton while playing club rugby in Putaruru, and in 1978 he was on the bench for one top grade Waikato match. "Frustrated" after that season, he decided to look for opportunities elsewhere, and moved to Canterbury where Belfast became his second (and final) club.[1]

Smith played for Canterbury domestically, and made his international debut in 1980. He played first five-eighth, gaining 35 caps for the All Blacks, 17 in Tests.


Smith's first major coaching role was for the Crusaders in the Super 12 competition in 1997. He coached them to two titles in 1998 and 1999 before being appointed All Blacks coach after the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

Smith resigned in 2001, bitterly disappointed after two close losses to Australia, having failed to wrestle the Bledisloe from them and finishing second to Australia twice in the 2000 and 2001 Tri Nations. Smith went on to coach the Northampton Saints in England. He coached there until being appointed backs coach in early 2004 by the then All Blacks coach Graham Henry.[citation needed]

In 2010, All Black scrum half Justin Marshall spoke about the best piece of coaching advice he'd received came from Smith: "I was going through a bad patch and he told me to go out and trust my instincts and be decisive – you need to trust what you do is going to be the right thing and if you do it decisively you'll make good of it even if it's the wrong option because you'll do it with purpose. That's the best piece of advice I've been given."[2]

Smith took up the assistant coaching position at the New Zealand Super Rugby team Chiefs in 2012. That year the Chiefs won their first Super Rugby title by defeating the Sharks 37–6 in the final.

As well as being a coach, Smith is also seen as an important mentor to many players, such as Sonny Bill Williams. Dan Carter, Bundee Aki, Doug Howlett and Beauden Barrett. [3]

In August 2012 Smith declared he wanted to stay with the Chiefs. This was despite being approached by the Western Force and NSW Waratahs, and an offer from England. Although his contract with the Chiefs was for two years, he was keen to stay longer, and he said, "I've now given a verbal agreement to the New Zealand Rugby Union that I'll be staying."[4][5]

Smith rejoined the All Blacks team in 2015, ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.[6]

On 19 May 2017 Smith announced he would be stepping down from his role as assistant coach to the All Blacks at the conclusion of the 2017 Rugby Championship in October, ending a 20-year association and over 212 games as coach since 2004 and retiring from full-time coaching.

Smith's final game with the All Blacks came on 21 October against Australia in Brisbane where the All Blacks narrowly lost to Australia 23-18. In the press conference after the game Smith joked and said "I'm an old dog I'm out", cutting short any hopes that he would return to the All Blacks in the future.[7]


In the 2012 Queen's Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours, Smith was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to rugby.[8]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "Smith a man with family at heart". Stuff. 6 August 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  2. ^ Doyle, Paul (22 May 2010). "Small Talk – Justin Marshall". Guardian. UK: Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  3. ^ Gregor Paul (29 May 2016). "Rugby: SBW commits to rugby". Herald on Sunday. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  4. ^ Mortimer, James (11 August 2012). "Smith staying with the Chiefs despite continued attention" (Press release). All Blacks and NZ Rugby. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  5. ^ Cully, Paul (11 August 2012). "Smith to stay put with Chiefs". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  6. ^ Wayne Smith to re-join All Blacks coaching staff for 2015
  7. ^ http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=11858974
  8. ^ "Queen's Birthday and Diamond Jubilee honours list 2012". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
John Hart
All Blacks coach
Succeeded by
John Mitchell