By Jenny Suo
Richie McCaw and Todd Blackadder are the latest big names in New Zealand rugby to pay tribute to former All Black captain and former head of the New Zealand Rugby Union Jock Hobbs.
Hobbs passed away in Wellington Hospital yesterday afternoon aged 52, after losing his long battle with leukaemia.
He honoured current All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw with a silver cap last year and today it was McCaw’s turn to pay tribute.
“He’s just a good man and I guess a mate. You know I’ve been lucky enough over the last eight or nine years to have a fair bit to do with him through the rugby. He did things for the right reasons because he cares.”
Canterbury born Hobbs was a legend in the region and Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has many memories of him.
“I remember going to the park and watching him play for Canterbury years ago. And just seeing what he’s contributed to this game over the years. He’s got a lot of friends here, I think we’ve all got our own stories.”
Hobbs hung up his boots in the late 80's after a series of concussions but that did not stop him stepping onto the field, even as chairman of the Rugby Union.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew says Hobbs was always keen to play.
“This isn’t widely known but he was known to put on the training gear when he was on tour with the team...and he suffered the odd injury as a consequence. I think he’s the only chairman of a national union that broke a rib while on tour.”
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says Hobbs was a huge inspiration for the All Blacks during last year's World Cup.
“From our point of view, he was kind of like our Nelson Mandela. He’s got huge respect from the group. Not just from the judges and management but also the players.”
Former NZRU chief executive Chris Moller says Hobbs was passionate about the game.
“He did what he did for New Zealand rugby, for the country, because he believed in the sport and the country, he didn’t do it for himself, and he would like to be remembered in that way.”
The crusaders are already planning a tribute to Hobbs for their match next Saturday.