Buck Shelford pays tribute to longtime friend Andy Haden

By Bronson Perich
WATCH All Black great Wayne Shelford's tribute to longtime friend Andy Haden on Te Ao Tapatahi.

Former All Black captain Wayne Shelford says Andy Haden was an outspoken and cheeky guy who, although reported to have once used terms such as 'hori' and 'coconut' to refer to Māori and Pasifika, was always just joking.

“Andy was a bit of a joker, he joked a lot. He used those terms like ‘darkie’. That was just Andy,” Shelford told Māori Television's Te Ao Tapatahi.

“I think that whenever you met the guy and knew the guy, you’d know he was always joking with people.”

The beginning of an almost 40-year friendship

Shelford met Haden when he was on the up as a North Harbour rugby player. Later on, they would end up playing together for Auckland.

“I ended up making the Auckland team in 1982. That’s where I first really met Andy, that’s where our friendship actually started."

In May 2010, Haden made waves when he called out the Crusaders, accusing them of having a ‘darkie quota’.

"Once they've recruited three, that's it. That's their ceiling. Three darkies... no more," Haden said during a panel discussion at the time on Sky TV's Deaker on Sport 

"In the Crusaders' manual, there it is, it's enshrined in their articles and they've stuck by that. And they know damn well that that's the case. And it's worked."

Haden would later resign from his role as one the country's six 2011 Rugby World Cup ambassadors. Shelford's position on that matter was if Andy said it it was probably true.

An agent of change

"If Andy says something, I tended to believe him because he was in the know of it, what was going on across the country. That's for sure."

Shelford says Haden’s work as an agent prepared NZ rugby for professionalism. 

"Even I was one of the people that Andy worked with as well, he was just way ahead of his time. He was basically the man who changed the environment of rugby over to professionalism."

Haden was instrumental in organising the breakaway Cavaliers rugby tour of South Africa in 1986 after the official All Black tour of the Republic was cancelled due to the country's apartheid policies.

Haden debuted as an All Black in 1972 and made his test debut against the British Lions in 1977. He would go on to play 41 test matches, captaining eight of them.

Haden managed Kiwi supermodel Rachel Hunter for 32 years, who posted a heartfelt tribute saying he was "a foundation in my life". 

Shelford describes him as a lifelong friend.

Haden passed away after a long illness, some 60 days before his 70th birthday.