Commentator Keith Quinn says Andy Haden was a “significant All Black” who he hopes will be remembered for more than his infamous dive in New Zealand's controversial win over Wales in 1978.
Haden died today aged 69 after a long battle with illness.
The most controversial moment of Haden’s Test career came at Cardiff Arm’s Park in a Test where the All Blacks were struggling to preserve an unbeaten record against Wales that had stood since 1953.
"It was a very grey Welsh day and very dramatic and very close game. New Zealand were hoping to continue a line of success against Wales and they were struggling. Wales were in the lead late in the game and things were looking dire for the All Blacks,” Quinn said.
“But at one lineout suddenly Haden took a dive along with his teammate Frank Oliver and the referee made a penalty to New Zealand for some obstruction by the Welsh team. But the Welsh people in the crowd and on TV immediately seemed to pick that New Zealand had tricked the referee Roger Quittenton.”
"Brian McKechnie stepped up and kicked a dramatic penalty goal to win the game for New Zealand, we thrashed them 13-12 and the unbeaten run against Wales continued,” Quinn quipped.
“It was an incredible headline-grabbing incident and Haden's name was mud in Wales for a long time."
"It did grab world attention, the fact that there was a question about whether there was deceit in play, cheating as the former Welsh captain Clem Thomas called it, and every other Welshman jumped on that and called it cheating, exploiting the rules from deception out of a lineout to dive and make the referee think the Welsh had pushed.
“So yes, it's up there with one of the worst examples."
Despite that flashpoint, Quinn hopes Haden would be remembered for his achievements both as a player and in his post-rugby career.
“Haden, I hope, is remembered for much more than one lineout dive, he was a terrific rugby player, represented New Zealand proudly and honourably, was hardly ever bettered in his long career in the All Blacks jersey. And he's worth much more in the history books than one line out.”
"Andy Haden was a very significant All Black, he played over 100 games for New Zealand and 41 Tests included in that at a time when 41 Tests was a very big total. Not many players on the field around the world were ever better than Haden. He was an enormous figure in the game as a player and of course for his presence, his size."
"He always had a twinkle in his eye, even when he was stern. He was stern with a lot of the media, I remember he threw mud at me one time after something I said about him on the field during the Springbok tour."
Such was Haden’s ability as a lock, early in his career he earned comparisons with the great Colin Meads.
"Well I think he was the new Meads. When Colin Meads retired, along came the next wave of big lock forwards, and Andy Haden led that. So he was very significant, and very dominant in his time - straight after the end of Colin Meads' important time in the New Zealand rugby story."
During his playing career, Quinn said Haden gave glimpses of the power agent to the stars that he would become after his playing days.
"He was nicknamed within the All Blacks team as the minister of lurks and perks, because he was always trying to get a little bit more for the team, not just himself, and that was the start of his desire and his drive to throw away the old amateur traditions of the game and turn the game into professionalism,” Quinn said.
“That's what so many of today's players ought to remember. That the beginnings of professional rugby, which they're enjoying today, came from a guy like Andy Haden who drove it initially. He drove it really hard and strong and it worked out well."
"Andy's whole life seemed to be one of success. He was terrific on the rugby field, we all in the media had disagreements with him at times, but he was a genial character and in business he became very successful.”
“His sporting contacts was an agency for show business and people like myself at speaking engagements, TV ads, and everything he touched was very successful and continues to be very successful and significant in New Zealand today."