TODAY |

Tiny Hill, the 92-year-old All Black who served 30 years in the army, reflects on rugby and his service


One of our oldest living All Blacks commemorated Anzac Day with a reflection of his time both in the black jersey and the services.

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The 11-Test All Black was an instructor during the Korean war and served in Vietnam. Source: 1 NEWS

Stanley Frank Hill - or as we know him, Tiny Hill - served in the New Zealand Army for 30 years, starting out at the Burnham Military Camp near Christchurch.

He still lives near by the camp, after turning 92 just a few weeks ago.

But Hill says despite his age, he can still remember the famous 1956 Springboks tour like it was yesterday.

Ironically though, Hill was dropped from the second Test for being “too physical” against the brutal ‘Boks forwards when he was playing for Canterbury.

“One of the props jumped in the lineout and he punched me,” Hill recounted to 1 NEWS.

“I gave this bloke two and dropped him and I walked away.

“They had the binoculars on me and saw that and said, ‘we can't have that dirty bugger in the side,’ so they dropped me!”

Hard-nosed and Taranaki-raised, Warrant Officer Hill's first overseas posting was as a teenager with J-Force in Japan straight after World War II.

Hill said rugby was a crucial part of the rebuild with Japanese crowds flocking to watch.

“We had a damn good side,” he said.

“We had a number who were leaguies who finished up playing for New Zealand in league.”

Playing for a powerful Canterbury team in the 50s, Hill went on to play 11 Tests for the All Blacks, including the ‘56 ‘Boks tour and against the 1959 Lions.

“I think i was lucky to make it.

“I love the game, I played it because I wanted to play it, the jersey means a hell of a lot.”

While he stayed here as an instructor during the Korean War, after rugby he served in Vietnam.

“It was one of those things, you were sent there, you did your duty, you were sent home.”

During and after his military service, Tiny served Canterbury and New Zealand rugby for decades and today, more than ever, he misses his rugby and army mates who've passed on.

“When you look around.... You're on your own.”

But Hill says he's enjoyed his life by just getting on with it - a code that served him well in rugby and the armed forces.