New Zealand Rugby
Henry scoops New Year knighthood
ESPNscrum Staff
December 30, 2011
Graham Henry cracks a smile, portrait session, Heritage Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand, December 29, 2011
Graham Henry has been knighted in the New Year honours © Getty Images

Former All Blacks coach Graham Henry has been awarded a knighthood in the New Year honours list.

The 65-year-old has been acknowledged for services to rugby after leading New Zealand to a first Rugby World Cup title since 1987 - the pinnacle of a 38-year, 140 Test match coaching career that also included spells with Auckland, Wales and the British & Irish Lions.

Henry was appointed All Blacks coach in 2003 and following a failed assault on the World Cup three years later, he finally clinched rugby's top prize with a close-run 8-7 victory over France at Eden Park in October.

The former school teacher was approached about the possibility of becoming a knight in the weeks following his side's triumph and accepted the honour following discussions with his family. He has already been confirmed as the International Rugby Board (IRB) Coach of the Year for 2011.

"I got a hell of a shock to be frank. It makes you feel uncomfortable, but also very humbled as well," he told Fairfax. "When you are involved in a team sport it is a lot of people who produce those results, it is not one person.

"It is everybody; the management of the team, [assistant coaches] Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith, Richie [McCaw] and the boys obviously, my wife, Raewyn, my family and my mother. There are a lot of people involved so it makes you feel a wee bit uncomfortable. Rugby is a team game."

All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw recently turned down the honour due to his ongoing playing commitments, but Henry is confident that "his time will come".

"He is a young fella and he has a few years ahead of him playing rugby," he said."He will probably feel uncomfortable about that [a knighthood] particularly when he is captaining the side and is still playing rugby. I am sure his time will come."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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