The former head of the New Zealand Rugby Union Jock Hobbs was an “incredible New Zealander” with a passion for the game of rugby.
Hobbs died on Tuesday afternoon in Wellington Hospital, following a battle with leukaemia.
He was 52.
Prime Minister John Key says Hobbs can be credited as the man who convinced the International Rugby Board that New Zealand should host last year’s Rugby World Cup.
“This was possibly his finest hour. Winning the trophy was certainly one of New Zealand’s finest hours,” Mr Key said.
“Jock was a man whose determination drove him to many successes in his life.”
New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chairman Mike Eagle has paid tribute to Hobbs, who he says was an “incredible New Zealander”.
“New Zealand has lost an inspirational leader with an incredible passion for the game of rugby and the part it plays in our lives.”
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew says rugby has lost “a great friend”.
“We will all miss his integrity, dogged determination and incredible sense of justice.”
Hobbs, a former All Black who stepped down from the NZRU in 2010 as he battled leukaemia, was admitted to Wellington Hospital last week.
In a statement, his family have thanked everyone for the outpouring of support they have received over the past week and, in particular, the staff at the hospital.
He captained the All Blacks for two overseas tours but retired after a series of concussions.
Hobbs became the NZRU’s chairman in 2002 and, in 2005, led New Zealand’s successful bid to host the 2011 World Cup.