The University rugby club in Auckland used to be nomadic, based at various hotels that would accept the sort of boisterous group which Grahame Thorne belonged to.

He returned to the club in '74 after a stint in South Africa and was a regular centerpiece in the social interaction after club games at the Station Hotel, often with a beer mug fastened to a chain around his neck.

His All Black rugby was done by then, three years of exhilarating and frustrating work with the selectors never settling on one position for the talented outside back before he moved to South Africa.

Rugby writers there were flabbergasted Thorne did not make the Springboks after great displays for Transvaal and in the national trials. When the selectors relented the next year and asked Thorne to play in a South African XV, he told them where to put their decision.


Thorne was picked for the All Blacks before he had played for Auckland and when he marked that elevation with comments about the chances of being a double international, the establishment reacted with horror to the brash upstart.

His first major tour was to the UK and his last to South Africa where he played all four tests starting each in a different position from the previous international.

On his return to New Zealand, Thorne worked in television where he shared broadcasting commentaries with Keith Quinn and later became a National MP for a term.

These days he accosts you and amidst some observations about the previous night's entertainment at an NZRU function will be talking through his culinary interests in the Wanaka area and asking about the state of play in the rugby world.

Date of birth: 25 February 1946
Position: Centre
Matches: 39
Tests: 10
Test debut: 15 June 1968 v Australia, Sydney
Final test: 12 September 1970 v South Africa, Johannesburg
Province: Auckland
Test tries: 1
Test points: 3