Legendary All Blacks star Bruce Robertson dies aged 71

New Zealand rugby pays tribute to ‘iconic’ Bruce Robertson after legendary All Blacks and Counties Manukau centre dies aged 71

  • Bruce Robertson died on Friday aged 71 after a lengthy health battle
  • Robertson won 34 Test caps for the All Blacks between 1972 and 1981
  • An outstanding centre, Robertson led Counties Manukau to the 1979 NPC title 

All Blacks great Bruce Robertson has been hailed as an ‘iconic player’ and ‘the greatest centre in New Zealand rugby history’ after dying on Friday at the age of 71.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Robertson had fought a lengthy battle. 

One of the outstanding players of his era, Robertson won 34 Test caps for the All Blacks between 1972 and 1981 and played 102 matches in total for the national team, scoring 30 tries.

Robertson made his debut against Australia in Wellington in August 1972 and played his final test against Scotland in Auckland in June, 1981.

He captained the All Blacks three times in mid-week games during the tours of France and the United Kingdom in 1977 and 1978.  

Former All Blacks great Bruce Robertson died at the age of 71 on Friday 

Robertson also represented Counties Manukau on 135 occasions, leading the province to its hitherto only National Provincial Championship (NPC) title in 1979.

His grandson Jadin made his debut for Counties last year. 

‘We are terribly sad to hear of the passing of one of Counties Manukau’s greatest All Blacks,’ said Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union chief executive Aaron Lawton.

‘Bruce was an iconic player and a true rugby servant.

‘He leaves a lasting legacy at our union and would have been incredibly proud to watch his grandson Jadin pull on the hoops last year.

‘We are working with his family now to confirm a service at Navigation Homes Stadium and will release details as soon as possible.’

The All Blacks added: ‘We are saddened by the passing of Bruce Robertson, All Black #702. Bruce played over 100 games for the All Blacks, including 34 Test Matches. We send our condolences to his family and loved ones at this sad time.’ 

Robertson was voted the greatest player in Counties history by a panel of judges in 2020 and the club said he will be remembered ‘as one of the greatest centre in New Zealand rugby history.’

One of the outstanding centres of his generation, Robertson played 102 times for New Zealand between 1972 and 1981 and won 34 Test caps

Robertson (right, pictured here travelling to Brisbane during the All Blacks’ tour to Australia and Fiji in 1980) represented Counties Manukau on 135 occasions

Part of the All Blacks team that toured South Africa and lost the Test series 3-1 in 1976, Robertson refused to face the Springboks when they toured New Zealand five years later as a protest against apartheid.

The All Blacks great turned to coaching after retiring and led Counties-Manukau when they played in the NPC second division in 2002 and 2003 and was also an assistant coach for the Blues in the then-Super 12.

Robertson is survived by wife Nellie and was a father to Jax and Dion, Natalie and Tom, Shannon and Joe, and a grandfather to Jadin, Mya, Niko, Siena, Zara, Taylor, Pippa, Asher and Charlize. 

‘Bruce’s whanau would like to acknowledge and thank everyone for their love and support at this time,’ the family said in a statement on Saturday. 

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