Jock Hobbs deserves memorial: Colin Meads

By Jarrod Booker

Sir Colin Meads, Tana Umaga, former Prime Minister Helen Clark, Jock Hobbs and Chris Moller in the Prime Ministers office at Parliament, Wellington, New Zealand, in 2005. Photo / NZPA
Sir Colin Meads, Tana Umaga, former Prime Minister Helen Clark, Jock Hobbs and Chris Moller in the Prime Ministers office at Parliament, Wellington, New Zealand, in 2005. Photo / NZPA

All Black great Sir Colin Meads says either naming a rugby stadium or a top-level rugby award after the late Jock Hobbs would be "terribly fitting" tributes.

As the accolades continued to flow yesterday for Hobbs - who died this week at 52 after a long battle with leukemia - public discussion began over what would be the best permanent memorial to honour his impressive legacy.

Hobbs made his mark as an All Black captain and flanker, then as a New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chairman who was critical in winning the rights to host the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

The service for Hobbs will be held at Wellington's Old Saint Pauls' at 1pm this Sunday.

The family have requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand. Donations can be made in a box at the service, or can be sent to PO Box 99182, Newmarket, Auckland.

In his hometown of Christchurch, talkback radio callers yesterday debated naming the city's new rugby stadium, or part of it, after Hobbs. However with the new stadium being only a temporary measure replacing the earthquake-damaged AMI Stadium, the Government says it would be inappropriate at this stage.

Sir Colin told the Herald: "There should be something to commemorate Jock's great work for the rugby union. One of the ideas I had many years ago when Kel Tremain died suddenly, (was) the Kel Tremain Memorial Trophy for the player of the year. Something like that comes up every year - where we keep remembering him and it gives us reason to remember."

Naming a Christchurch rugby stadium after Hobbs would also be fitting if it was possible, Sir Colin said.

"They have got to decide where (Canterbury rugby) are going to end up. There will be a lot of other better ideas somewhere else around the country."

Former All Black captain and NZRU president Tane Norton said Hobbs was a good friend who would be embarrassed by all the accolades. For that reason he could not put forward his own suggestions for a permanent memorial.

"I just know what Jock would say."

Former All Black coach John Hart said there was a variety of possibilities to consider and "I think these things should take time". Former All Black captain and Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said Hobbs' family should make that call.

All Black captain Richie McCaw yesterday described Hobbs as one of the key motivators behind his team's World Cup success.

McCaw said Hobbs was brought in to speak to the team during last year's tournament because of the huge respect everyone had for him.

"He doesn't need to say much - just having him around was pretty special. And putting that aside, he's just a good man to have a beer with and he's a good mate."

McCaw recalled receiving his 100th cap for the All Blacks during the World Cup from Hobbs as one of the most emotional moments of his career.

"I couldn't have thought of a better man to do that."

He also recalled special moments with Hobbs such as sharing a glass of port, which was an All Black loose forward tradition. In England a few years ago, Hobbs took charge of a tackling bag at a practice and ended up being "flattened" and cracking a rib, but to his credit kept it quiet, McCaw said.

- NZ Herald

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