A Sad Day for Sport14 Mar 2012
Jock Hobbs was an All Black captain, but his greatest contribution to rugby and to New Zealand was off-the-field, helping professionalise rugby in the mid-1990s and bringing the World Cup to NZ.
Hobbs, 52, died in Wellington yesterday after a battle with leukaemia, which he was first diagnosed with in 2005.
Squash NZ Chief Executive Jim O'Grady said of Hobbs, "He was an outstanding role model for any kiwi sport. Hobbs played at the top level and then turned around and put it all back into the sport. He acted with integrity, humility and passion. He was an inspiration to players and administrators alike."
Just over five months ago, Hobbs, his head bald and his face puffy from his medical treatment, touched the nation with his courage in walking onto Auckland's Eden Park to present All Black captain Richie McCaw with a silver cap to mark his 100th test. New Zealand had just beat France 37-17 early in the World Cup campaign.
"I've got a huge amount of respect for that fella," McCaw said that night. "He's been through a tough time, but he's a fighter and he's largely responsible for why the tournament's here. To have him here today was something pretty special."
Hobbs also presented fullback Mils Muliaina with a silver cap when he secured his century of games during the tournament, and was a regular fixture in the All Blacks' dressing room before the side paid him the ultimate tribute, beating France in the final 8-7 on October 23.
A night later, he was presented with the Vernon Pugh award for distinguished service to rugby, at the International Rugby Board awards in Auckland. "The Rugby World Cup has engaged, galvanised, brought together the country in what has been a pretty tough 12 months," he told the ceremony.
© Fairfax NZ News