Legendary All Black Fred Allen dies at 92

by RUGBY.com.au staff

Former All Black captain and coach Sir Fred "the Needle" Allen died on Saturday aged 92, rugby officials said.

Allen, who was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2005, and knighted in 2010 for his services to rugby, had suffered from leukaemia.

From 1946 to 1949, Allen played 21 games including six Tests at either fly-half or inside-centre for the All Blacks and all as captain. Until his death was the oldest surviving All Black.

As coach he forged a remarkable record from 1966 to 1968 when the All Blacks were unbeaten in all 37 matches, including 14 Tests, during his time at the helm, making him the only unbeaten All Blacks coach.

He established a reputation as an inspiring yet fearsome coach, who was also prepared to take advice from senior players, particularly forwards Colin Meads and Brian Lochore.

"He obviously played in the backs and he knew the basics of scrummaging but he didn't know the fine details and he left that to the senior players to work out," said Lochore, who captained the All Blacks under Allen.

"I think that's one of his strengths, the fact that the players took control of that particular area and they bought into that and I think that makes you a stronger team as well.

"So in areas that he wasn't totally knowledgeable about he listened very well to the senior players and once he knew you were on track he supported you."

Former All Blacks captain Wilson Whineray linked Allen's strict discipline back to his service as a lieutenant in World War II.

"Fred was a person, because of his military background I think, who demanded precision, doing things properly, less talk and more do, don't give them anything, don't make mistakes, pounce on anything they give you and do everything you're asked to do properly," Whineray said.

The statement announcing his death said he had participated in the opening of a bridge at Auckland Memorial Park and at an Anzac Day service earlier this week.

His wife Norma died in 2009. He is survived by his daughter Marianne and granddaughters Ines and Katia.