• Tribute paid to Hawke's Bay rugby legend

Tribute paid to Hawke's Bay rugby legend

Hawke’s Bay rugby legend and one cap All Black Neil Thimbleby has been hailed as a “great man” after passing away this week at the age of 84.

Thimbleby was a prop for Hawke’s Bay and later became coach of the team in the 1980s and patron of the union after that. He played a record 158 games for Hawke’s Bay between 1959 and 1971. His only test for the All Blacks against the Springboks in a 14-3 loss in Port Elizabeth on the 1970 tour of South Africa. He also played 12 other tour matches.

Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union Chief Executive Jay Campbell told Hawke’s Bay App today that Thimbleby was a great man.

“Our first Centurion. Our first person to play a hundred games. Played every minute of every game and the Randfurly Shield defences. He was tough, uncompromising, but played the game the way it's supposed to. And yeah, he was obviously a champion on the field, but likewise a champion man off it.”

“He's just a great man. Hugely respected and like a lot of players of that elk, they put so much back into the game without ever asking for anything for it. He'll be hugely missed. Obviously, he has been our patron since 2011, and yeah, just another legend of our game gone.”