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The mastermind behind the All Blacks

John GriffithsSeptember 3, 2014
Sir Fred Allen back in 1967 © PA Photos
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What was Fred Allen's coaching pedigree before successfully steering the All Blacks towards their world-record run of Test victories in the late 1960s? AB, New Zealand

Sir Fred Allen led New Zealand in all 21 games he played for his country between 1946 and 1949, including six Test matches. He retired, disillusioned with the way New Zealand rugby was headed after the disappointing tour of South Africa in 1949, after the All Blacks were whitewashed 4-0 in the Test series.

It was not until 1957 that Auckland, the province he had played for during his All Black career, invited him to succeed Merv Corner as selector. His previous coaching experience had been with his local Auckland club, Grammar Old Boys.

During his seven-season stint with Auckland the province adopted an attacking style which began to pay dividends in his second season in charge. Then, near the end of the 1959 season, Auckland captured the Ranfurly Shield from Southland and they went on to hold the famous "Log o' Wood" for four years (apart from a brief 11-day break in 1960 when many of their leading players were away with the All Blacks in South Africa).

During those seasons Auckland established a then record for most consecutive successful defences of the Shield and Allen's contribution to that run was recognised by the NZRFU in 1964 when he was invited to become a member of the national selection panel. In 1966 he was promoted to chief selector (in effect head coach) for the series against the British & Irish Lions and held the position until the end of 1968. The All Blacks won every Test they played during his reign.

John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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Writer Bio

John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.

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