RUGBY legend and business leader Sir Wilson Whineray has died aged 77.
Tributes have rolled in for the former All Blacks prop and captain, who died in hospital.
“It is fitting that the only biography of Sir Wilson was titled A Perfect Gentleman,” Prime Minister John Key said.
“He was the rare breed of man whose modesty and humility gave no hint of the greatness he had achieved.
“I knew Sir Wilson and respected him immensely. This is a loss all of New Zealand will feel.”
He played a total of 77 matches for the All Blacks, including 32 tests.
He was captain for 30, and was named New Zealand Sportsman of the Year in 1965, the year he retired.
In 2007 he was the fourth person inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame, and four years earlier was named Patron of the New Zealand Rugby Union.
It was not just on the rugby field where he excelled, as in the late 1960s he won a scholarship to Harvard University, where he studied for an MBA.
He went on to head Carter Holt Harvey and held positions at APN, the NZ Wool Marketing Corporation, National Bank and Auckland International Airport, Fairfax NZ reported.
He was knighted in 1998 for services to sport and business.
Sir Wilson is survived by his wife Lady Elisabeth, a son, two daughters and five grandchildren.
In a statement they said:
“Our father led a rich life filled to the brim with family, sport, business and the community. While he leaves a very big gap in our lives, we are blessed with many wonderful memories of him.
“We will always remember his energy and passion for everything he did and we remember one of his favourite comments was that he didn’t regret a single day in his life.”
NZRU chairman Mike Eagle said:
“We have lost one of New Zealand’s great heroes and for the rugby community we have lost a much-loved patron and champion of rugby,” he said.
“We extend our condolences to Lady Elisabeth and to their family as they remember a much-loved husband, a father and a grandfather.”
Former All Black Grant Fox said Sir Wilson was a gentleman.
“Not only was he a great rugby player but a great contributor to society. He had a remarkable career through many threads of New Zealand society.”