Friends, family, former All Blacks, Wairarapa Bush and Gladstone Rugby Club members gathered in Memorial Park Grandstand yesterday to celebrate the life of one of New Zealand's rugby legends and "all round top man", Lane Penn.

Mr Penn died last Friday.

His services to rugby included coaching Wairarapa Bush, serving as an All Black selector, being president of the NZRU for two years and All Blacks assistant coach.

He was also dedicated to wife Jill and children.


Celebrant and long time friend David Hutchison conducted the service in front of about 400 people who had come to pay their respects.

"Would have been a fine day for rugby, Lane," he said opening proceedings.

Mr Hutchison described Mr Penn's humility, which would be reinforced by others throughout the service.

"He always looked for the best in people."

"Everyone got an equal measure of Lane's time and energy."

Mr Penn's son Stephen spoke about his father's sense of humour, a quality many remembered Mr Penn for.

"He always called people b******s," he said. He said, according to his father, a "good b*****d" was someone who did their job in the background without expecting praise - such as a barman or an unpaid official.

"Believe it or not, even the odd referee was a good b*****d!" Mr Penn said.

There were "dozy b******s" and "useless b******s" used to refer to lazy musterers on the farm.

"A gutsy b*****d was always someone from the Gladstone or Bush forward pack."

On a more poignant note Mr Penn spoke about his father's support throughout his life.

"Dad believed we should always push ourselves to be the best that we can be."

"His voice will always be in the back of my mind, I couldn't have had a better role model."

Mr Penn's son, Tim, spoke about his father's ability to turn young farmers into successes after a stint on his Glenburn farm.

"When a boy left Glenburn, they were a man."

He said his father helped him through some of the "difficulties of life".

"I'd go up for a cup of tea and come back down ready to climb a mountain," he said.

Mr Penn's attitude to life was summed up by former Wairarapa Bush player Bunter Anderson, who was coached by Mr Penn.

"I can tell you now that the Chiefs won," Mr Anderson said, after recounting that Mr Penn had awoken briefly from a coma during his very brief illness and asked wife Jill "did the Chiefs or the Blues win?"