Tiny Hill, the oldest All Blacks war veteran, will be part of the official pre-game line up and pass the match-ball to the ball runner in Saturday’s Round 9 Crusaders v Stormers Investec Super Rugby match in Christchurch, as part of Anzac commemorations at New Zealand games this weekend.
Tiny Hill played 19 Tests for the All Blacks from 1955-1959, including against the touring Lions side in 1959. He joined the New Zealand Army and served with J-Force in Japan in 1948 and played for and later selected New Zealand Army sides.
The Anzac capitals compete tonight in Napier when the Hurricanes take on the Brumbies. Saturday sees the Highlanders play the Sunwolves in Invercargill before the Crusaders are up against the Stormers in Christchurch.
As has become traditional at New Zealand matches over the Anzac weekend, tonight’s game in Napier and tomorrow night’s games in Christchurch and Invercargill will feature The Ode, The Last Post, The Silence and The Reveille. Commemoration activities will also include poppy collection for the RSA Poppy Appeal at the gate as fans arrive.
“Rugby has a strong connection with World War 1. When war broke out in 1914 the All Blacks squad was in Sydney playing Australia, and on the return trip all committed to volunteer in the war effort. In total 13 All Blacks and 150 First Class players paid the ultimate sacrifice in the war,” said New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew.
“New Zealanders have a proud record of service. The strong place of rugby in our communities means there has long been a crossover between our sport and our war efforts.
“On Anzac Day 2017 – 102 years after the ANZACs landed at Gallipoli – players, coaches, referees and supporters at all levels of rugby in New Zealand will join in commemorations.
“Rugby is proud to honour all service men and women, past and present, during this weekend’s Investec Super Rugby games. Our on-field commemorations are a marker of the deep respect in which rugby holds all those who have served our country.”
Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association (RNZRSA) Chief Executive Jack Steer said the recognition of past generations and support for current generations of service men and women at the Super Rugby fixtures is greatly appreciated, given the long and strong bonds between the services and rugby.
“We are grateful to New Zealand Rugby and the Super Rugby clubs for their efforts to promote remembrance around Anzac Day and in the practical way they are also supporting today’s current veterans through collections at the games.
“There are now 41,000 veterans among us. Of those only 11,000 are from World War Two, Korea and Vietnam. The other 30,000 have all served in operations abroad since the end of the Vietnam War in 1974. And many of those people and their families need our support. The Poppy Appeal is one way we can encourage all Kiwis to show they care by making a donation.”