Eight times captain in his career, Andy Haden had played 117 matches in the New Zealand jersey, thus 41 international test-matches, the first in 1977 against the British and Irish Lions, the last against Argentina in 1985. The former second line died at 69 from cancer he had been fighting since 2003, said the New Zealand Federation.
He was “regarded abroad as the main obstacle to overcome in order to be able to contemplate a victory against New Zealand”, estimated the writer specialist in rugby, Bob Howitt, who spoke of Haden as a player “without equal on the international scene ”to his post.
“Andy’s influence as a player was immense. Not only by his imposing physical presence, but also by the respect that his teammates had for him, ”assured Bill Osborn, president of the New Zealand Rugby Federation and former teammate of the nearly two-meter giant. As the rugby world pays tribute to him, Andy Haden’s family announced that “rather than flowers, we ask that donations be made to support the medical staff”, having accompanied the former second line.
Become “the first rugby millionaire”
Haden fought for the professionalization of his sport. His stated goal: to become the “first millionaire in rugby”. In the 1970s, he left New Zealand to come and play in Europe, especially in France and Italy.
“More than anyone, it is to him that we owe the accession of rugby to professional status,” greeted his former club, Ponsonby Rugby in Auckland. Adding: “Today’s players who earn a good living have many reasons to thank him. South African opening half from Montpellier, Handré Pollard, now dominates the ranking of the highest paid rugby players, with an annual salary of 1.15 million euros, according to Wales Online.
After his sports career, Andy Haden continued to evolve in the world of the oval ball by creating his agency to represent the players. Appointed ambassador for the 2011 World Cup in his country, he had finally had to resign from this honorary post after controversial comments, deemed sexist and racist.