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Sir Wilson James Whineray KNZM OBE (10 July 1935 – 22 October 2012)[1] was a New Zealand business executive and rugby union player. He was the longest-serving captain of the national rugby union team, the All Blacks, until surpassed by Richie McCaw in 2014.[2] Rugby writer Terry McLean considered him the All Blacks' greatest captain.[3]

Sir Wilson Whineray
Wilson Whineray.jpg
Birth nameWilson James Whineray
Date of birth(1935-07-10)10 July 1935
Place of birthAuckland, New Zealand
Date of death(2012-10-22)22 October 2012
Place of deathAuckland, New Zealand
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight94 kg (14 st 11 lb)
SchoolAuckland Grammar School
UniversityThe University of Auckland
Harvard University
Lincoln University
Rugby union career
Position(s) Prop
All Black No. 585
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
Mid Canterbury
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1957–1965 New Zealand 32 (6)
Correct as of 8 February 2007


Domestic careerEdit

Owing to his early career as an agricultural cadet, which involved considerable travel around the country, Whineray played for six first-class teams, including Wairarapa, Mid Canterbury, Manawatu, Canterbury, Waikato, and finally his hometown team, Auckland, for whom he made 61 appearances between 1959 and 1966. He also played for the South Island, North Island, and New Zealand Universities sides.

International careerEdit

He first played for the All Blacks in 1957. The following year he became captain for the 1958 series against Australia at the young age of 23. He went on to play 77 matches for the All Blacks between 1957 and 1965, 67 of them as captain. These included 32 test matches, all but two of them as captain.[4] He played mostly in the position of prop.[5] Whineray was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, for services to sport, especially to rugby football, in the 1962 New Year Honours,[6] and he was named New Zealand Sportsperson of the Year in 1965.[2]

Later lifeEdit

After retiring from rugby, he gained a MBA from Harvard University, where he was a member of the Harvard Business School RFC. He returned to New Zealand in 1969 and started work at Alex Harvey Industries, which became Carter Holt Harvey.[7] He rose to become deputy managing director, then chairman of the board of Carter Holt Harvey, by then a major New Zealand company, and retired from the board in 2003.[8] He was the managing director of NZ Wool Marketing Corporation in 1973–74, chairman of the National Bank of New Zealand, and a director of Auckland International Airport and APN News & Media.[4]

He was chairman of the Hillary Commission, a sports funding body, from 1993 to 1998.[5][9][10] He was the honorary Colonel Commandant of the New Zealand Special Air Service from 1997 to 2001.[10][11]

Whineray was knighted in 1998 "for services to sport and business management".[12] In November 2004, it was reported that Whineray was a top contender to replace Dame Silvia Cartwright as Governor-General in 2006.[13] Bob Howitt has said that, "had he allowed his name to go forward, he would have become the Governor-General".[14] He became the first New Zealander inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame, being elected on 21 October 2007 (following the IRB World Cup in France) after a public vote.[4] He died in Auckland in 2012, at the age of 77.

All Blacks statisticsEdit

  • Tests: 32 (30 as captain)
  • Games: 45 (37 as captain)
  • Total matches: 77 (67 as captain)
  • Test points: 6 (2 tries)
  • Game points: 18 (5 tries, 1 dropped goal)
  • Total points: 24 (7 tries, 1 dropped goal)[5]


  1. ^ McBride, Kerry. "Knighted Rugby Great dies",, New Zealand, 22 October 2012. Retrieved on 22 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Wilson Whineray – BCom". The University of Auckland. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  3. ^ "Auckland rugby". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 24 September 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "2007 Inductee: Sir Wilson Whineray". International Rugby Board. 1 December 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Wilson Whineray at
  6. ^ "No. 42554". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1962. p. 40.
  7. ^ Meads, Colin; Stone, Andrew (2 October 2010). "Over achiever on and off the paddock". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Whineray, Wilson James". The Fairfax Media New Zealand Business Hall of Fame. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  9. ^ Quinn, Keith (8 June 2011). "Seven All Black knights". One Sport. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Top three new constables go to Auckland area". New Zealand Police. 12 June 2003. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  11. ^ Small, Vernon (21 August 2011). "Kiwi SAS soldier died saving lives". Sunday Star Times. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  12. ^ "The Queen's Birthday Honours 1998". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 1 June 1998. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  13. ^ Young, Audrey (2 November 2004). "All Black top pick to be Governor-General". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  14. ^ "Rugby legend finally spills the beans". One News. TVNZ. 12 October 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2011.

Further readingEdit

  • Howitt, Bob (2010). A perfect gentleman : Sir Wilson Whineray. Auckland : Harper Collins New Zealand.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ponty Reid
All Blacks Captain
Succeeded by
John Graham