It was standing room only at Norm Berryman's funeral in Perth today as hundreds of people flocked to say their final goodbyes to the rugby legend.

The former All Black died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 42 last week in Perth, where he had been living and working as a forklift driver. He was survived by six children.

Wanneroo Rugby Club president Francis Williams said there were a lot of tears shed by everyone at the service.

A rousing haka was performed as the coffin, draped in Maori decoration, was carried out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Warwick, he said.


About 500 people packed into the church including representatives from almost every premier-grade rugby club in Perth as well as family and friends, he said.

Berryman's father-in-law had never been on a plane before but made the special trip over to be with his family.

"It was definitely standing room only," Mr Williams said.

"It was very solemn...but through that it was happy as well. Just remembering his life and what kind of person he was and I think that's the way Norm would have wanted it to be."

Despite the number of rugby players at the service - including many from Wanneroo Rugby Club where he coached and Kalamunda Districts Rugby Club where he played - most of the speeches focussed on his role as a "family man".

Many of the people who spoke were in the Berryman extended family and a number of songs were sung during the hour-long service, he said.

"People were talking about how Norm was very much a dedicated father and family man.

"One person said that as good as he was on the field, he was 100 times better as a father," he said.


More memorial speeches were being heard at the burial grounds from 5pm [NZT], Mr Williams said.

"It'll be another chance for people to talk about Norm and how he touched their lives, how much they'll miss his smile but it'll carry on through his family.

"I think there'll be a few more tears at the burial service, having to say the final goodbye, but there'll be a lot of songs and hymns as well."

Berryman had played in an exhibition match in Italy just weeks before his death in honour of another former All Black, Jerry Collins, who died in a car crash in France in June.

He grew up in Whangarei and played 107 games for Northland between 1991 and 2003 and represented the Crusaders, Chiefs and Blues in Super Rugby. He last played professionally in France in the early 2000s, before moving to Perth and playing club rugby.

Wanneroo Rugby Club put on a fundraiser at its junior games on Friday night and has created a new trophy - the Norm Berryman Cup - which will kick off between Wanneroo and Kalamunda on August 1.

A Give a Little page set up to raise money to support his family has reached $17,000.