All Black legend Kevin Skinner dies
July 21, 2014
Legendary 1940s and 1950s All Blacks prop Kevin Skinner has died, aged 86.
Skinner, who made his lasting fame during the last two Tests of the 1956 series against the Springboks, died over the weekend. He was regarded as one of the best props New Zealand ever produced. He played 63 games, including 20 Test matches - six as captain - for the All Blacks between 1949 and 1956.
The 1947 New Zealand heavyweight amateur boxing champion, Skinner retired from rugby in 1954 with a then record of 61 All Black appearances. But he was brought back for the last two Tests of the Springbok series in 1956 because of injuries to other front rowers. According to rugby lore, Skinner's fists helped subdue the Bok props, enabling the All Blacks to claim a historic series victory.
The New Zealand rugby public was desperate for a series victory over South Africa and Skinner helped deliver that, retiring from international rugby following the 3-1 result. Skinner was already well-regarded for the front row partnership with Has Catley and Johnny Simpson during the 1949 tour of South Africa, when the All Blacks lost the Test series 4-0. He was just 21-year-old on that tour but from then on was an automatic selection.
"Kevin was a much-admired player, regarded by many as one of New Zealand's greatest props, while his role in the All Blacks' first series win over South Africa in 1956 has earned him a place in rugby folklore," New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey said.
"I am sure that in coming days Kevin will be fondly remembered across New Zealand, in particular by the Otago rugby community, for his performances for the All Blacks as well as his continued contributions to the game as a coach and administrator. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time."
Skinner was born in Dunedin and his rugby career began in Otago before he later moved to Counties. He was part of the 1947 Otago side that lifted the Ranfurly Shield from Southland and the Combined side that faced the South Africans in 1956, four days before the final Test.
Following his retirement from playing, Skinner remained involved with the game as a club coach and later became involved with the Barbarians, including serving as president from 1988 to 1990.
Initially a grocer by trade, he took up farming when he moved to Waiuku. He subsequently moved to Auckland, mainly so a deaf daughter could attend Deaf School.
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