Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Michael James "Jock" Bowie Hobbs, CNZM (15 Feb 1960–13 Mar 2012)

Ruggerblogger joins all the All Black and rugby fans around the globe in sending our condolences to the family of Jock Hobbs, who passed away yesterday in Wellington Hospital after a long illness.

The guy was so integral to the sport here. He was a player of real note (for Canterbury and the All Blacks), and an administrator of unsurpassed talent in New Zealand sport. He was hugely responsible for bringing the Rugby World Cup to New zealand for 2011, and when Richie McCaw lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy on behalf of the victorious All Blacks that night on October last year – hell, on behalf of the whole country – it ended an era of 24 years’ self-flagellation, a period longer than the entire time the game has been openly professional.

So it is fitting that Hobbs lived to see that, to see the country get in behind their team on the World stage. And who can forget his All Black 100th Cap presentations to McCaw and Mils Muliaina (not that we saw much of the latter thanks to coverage cutting away for ads) – having Hobbs deliver those words surely meant so much to the players.

Its natural for people to be idolised when they die, for the eulogies to glaze over a person’s flaws (if any), that's natural. Hobbs was a Cavalier on the rebel tour of  South African in 1986, along with many other All Blacks ... and there will be some people that will never forgive him for that. Personally, I was not a huge All Black fan back then, but that was not due to politics and had more to do with the fact that back then we always won by playing the sort of 10 man rugby we beat England up about now. Surely though, Jock Hobbs, ultimately redeemed himself many times over in the eyes of his detractors by dedicating himself to the administration of rugby in NZ after his playing days were cut short by repeated concussion.

In fact, he is held up here as ‘The Man Who Saved Rugby’ for the way he shuttled his way around the globe and NZ to secure the signatures of the game’s biggest names to save it from the clutches of Kerry Packer’s World Rugby Corporation (WRC). Can you imagine what rugby would look like if SANZAR had failed to even get off the ground, and the Sydney-based WRC had basically turned the sport into the NRL Mk II? Its probable there would in fact be only one rugby code by now. Its definite that union as an international sport of integrity would have cannibalised itself.

So, thanks Jock. We hope that sip from Bill was long and sweet.

1 comment:

Nursedude said...

There are not many top-flight players who may have been better administrators than players. Jock Hobbs seemed to be one of them. Sad news, indeed...particularly striking for me as he was born in 1960, the same year I was born.

Glad he was able to see the All Blacks come back from wandering the wilderness for 24 years and find the promised land.