What couldn't Ron Hemi do in his final year at secondary school?

He was head boy at Hamilton Boys High, captained the 1st XV as hooker and goal kicker, led the 1st XI as an opening batsman and won swimming and athletic titles. In his first summer out of school he opened the batting for Auckland in the Plunket Shield.

It was an extraordinary rise but a year later, Hemi gave cricket away to concentrate on rugby. His impact must have been stunning because after three and a half provincial games, Hemi made his All Black test debut as a 20 year-old.

His play was from another planet. Hemi played like another looseforward while he dominated the scrums and apparently picked off 10 tightheads against England.


His striking was very sharp and he also practiced for hours, dribbling the ball which delivered dividends when the Springboks visited for the torrid '56 series.

A left foot tap then a correction with his right foot took Hemi down the touchline past the Bok inside backs until the cover converged in the series decider at Eden Park.
"So I placed a sort of right cross which, as it turned out, was perfect for Peter Jones," Hemi said of the famous 1956 test try at Eden Park.

The hooker ramped up his accountancy study after that series but still toured Australia and was ready for the Lions visit in '59 and the tour to South Africa in '60.

Torn rib cartilages dented his impact on that trip while the next year Hemi developed achilles tendon trouble. He never played another game of rugby as he settled into his accountancy practice and used his sporting gifts on the golf course.

Date of birth: 15 May 1933
Position: Hooker
Matches: 46
Tests: 16
Test debut: 19 December 1953 v Wales, Cardiff
Last test: 19 September 1959 v British & Irish Lions, Auckland
Province: Waikato
Test tries: 1
Test points: 3