Christchurch capping ceremony to honour former All Blacks     04 Aug 2010    

Thirteen former All Blacks with a playing history spanning nearly three decades will be recognised at the capping ceremony on the eve of the last 2010 domestic season All Blacks Test match being played against Australia.

Three surviving All Blacks will be presented with their Test cap and caps will also be presented to the family members of 10 former All Blacks now deceased, at the Christchurch Town Hall.

The trio being capped on Friday – Bill McCaw (1951), Grahame Thorne (1968) and Alex Wyllie (1970) – clocked up a total 111 All Blacks matches between them, including 26 Tests.

Loose forward Bill McCaw, a distant relative of current All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, was 23 when he debuted against Australia in Sydney in 1951. With five Test caps and 27 matches for the All Blacks, McCaw had vigorous form when not bothered by injury. His leadership skills saw him lead the All Blacks in a 1953 midweek tour match against North of Scotland. After retiring from play, he continued to contribute to rugby as a coach and administrator in Invercargill.

Grahame Thorne was 21 when he was plucked from the under 23 team straight into the 1967 All Blacks. At that stage, Thorne had not yet represented Auckland. Thorne played 10 Tests and had a reputation as a midfielder with startling acceleration, attacking flair and sure defence.

Alex ‘Grizz’ Wyllie’s first Test match was against South Africa in Cape Town on 8 August 1970 and he played a total 40 matches for the All Blacks, including 11 Tests. Wyllie was an outstanding and powerful loose forward who proved himself a stalwart as player then coach for Canterbury.

He later coached the All Blacks (1988 -1991), and also coached in England, Ireland, South Africa and Argentina and from 1996-99 was in charge of the Argentina national side, taking the Pumas to a quarter final at the 1999 World Cup.

The following All Blacks, or their family representatives, will receive caps at the Christchurch Town Hall, on Friday.

Player Province^ Debut All Blacks v Venue

*Red Elliott Wellington 14 Sep 1946 Australia Dunedin

* Morrie Goddard South Canterbury 28 Sep 1946 Australia Auckland

* Bill Mumm Buller 3 Sep 1949 Australia Wellington

* Bob Duff Canterbury 23 Jun 1951 Australia Sydney

Bill McCaw Southland 23 Jun 1951 Australia Sydney

* Eddie Robinson Southland 23 Jun 1951 Australia Sydney

* Tom Lynch Canterbury 23 Jun 1951 Australia Sydney

* Ian Hammond Marlborough 13 Sep 1952 Australia Wellington

* Morrie Dixon Canterbury 9 Jan 1954 Ireland Dublin

* Pat Vincent Canterbury 14 Jul 1956 South Africa Dunedin

* Alister Hopkinson Canterbury 2 Dec 1967 Scotland Edinburgh

Grahame Thorne Auckland 15 Jun 1968 Australia Sydney

Alex Wyllie Canterbury 8 Aug 1970 South Africa Cape Town

^ Province refers to the province the player was playing for at the time of their Test debut.

* Family members of those players who have passed away will collect the caps on their behalf.

About All Blacks Test caps

A player’s first appearance in a Test match for the All Blacks is traditionally rewarded with a Test cap. However, international rugby and the capping tradition was interrupted by World War II and was not re-introduced until June 1997. In December 2008, the NZRU announced it would hold a series of events from to cap more than 400 former All Blacks who did not receive their caps during that period.