Frank Oliver 1948-2014
Former All Blacks captain Frank Oliver dies
ESPN Staff
March 18, 2014

Former All Blacks captain Frank Oliver died in his sleep at his home in Palmerston North on Sunday at the age of 65.

Oliver, renowned for his no-nonsense approach to rugby as a player and coach, played 43 games for the All Blacks, including 17 Tests, from 1976 to 1981. He was captain in four games, including the three-Test home series against Australia in 1978 when Graham Mourie was injured.

In all, he played 213 first-class games for Southland, Otago and Manawatu, where he was part of a powerful provincial side in the early 1980s. And those provinces led the tributes to Oliver on Tuesday, remembering the respect in which he was held by rugby people at all levels.

Manawatu Rugby Union chief executive John Knowles described Oliver as "one of New Zealand's tough men of rugby, both as a player and as a coach".

Southland counterpart Brian Hopley said that Oliver's toughness and leadership were still well regarded in the deep south, while Richard Kinley, general manager of Otago Rugby, paid tribute to the player for the hours of service volunteered to his Otago country club Toko when playing there.

"It's clear his love for rugby and his contribution to the game stem back to the very grassroots of our game," Kinley said.

Oliver made his Test debut on the 1976 tour of South Africa, playing 12 games before winning selection for the fourth and final Test in Johannesburg. He book-ended his Test career with another loss to the Springboks, in Wellington in the second Test of the controversial 1981 tour.

Oliver retired a year later, when he moved into coaching to complement his work in forestry. He coached Manawatu and then the ill-fated Central Vikings merger in 1997-1998. He was the inaugural coach of the Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise from 1996-1999, and he later coached the Blues for one season in 2001.

His son Anton Oliver played 56 Tests at hooker for the All Blacks, including 10 as captain in 2001. The Olivers remain the only father-son All Black captains in history.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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