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Wayne Shelford -

Tough on and off the field 

Wayne Shelford MBE

Tough on and off the field 

Ngā Puhi

buck shelford.png

Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford, MBE, was born on 13 December 1957. He is one of New Zealand’s most loved and respected All Blacks.  He is descended from Ngāpuhi but was raised here in Rotorua.


As a school boy, Buck dreamed of being like his Māori All Black idol ‘Matua’ Jim Maniapoto. After leaving Western Heights High School and spending some time in the navy, Buck went on to have an impressive career as one of the world’s most outstanding loose forwards.


Buck made his test debut in 1986 against France and acted as captain from 1987 until 1990.  He was thought to have been one of the best players to wear the Number 8 jersey during the 1980’s and also one of the toughest.  He became famously known for being injured during the notorious ‘Battle of Nantes’. Despite losing four teeth and having an injury stitched by medics on the sideline, he headed back out on the field for most of the second half of the game!  


When he was dropped from the All Blacks in 1990, there was a backlash from his fans and the general public which led to the famous “Bring back Buck” campaign. Although he never regained his place in the All Black side, Buck was the captain of the New Zealand XV that played Romania in the Soviet Union and New Zealand B team that played Australia. He had played 48 All Blacks games including 22 tests and had captained the side 31 times, including 13 tests. He also scored 22 tries in total in his All Black career.


He has also been credited with bringing the mana and power back the All Blacks’ performance of the haka, by taking his teammates to Te Aute College to learn how to perform the haka properly.


Buck Shelford retired from playing rugby in 1991 and coached for some time in Britain. He returned to New Zealand and was the assistant coach of the North Harbour team in 1997 and coach in 1998.


In 2007, Buck was diagnosed with cancer. He is now in remission but describes the challenge to beat cancer as the biggest battle of his life.


He has been open about talking about his health struggles and now works hard to make men more aware of the importance of their health. He has since written a book on the topic of keeping healthy called ‘Buck up: The real bloke’s guide to getting healthy and living longer’.

Qualities: humility, diligence, wellbeing

More to watch:

Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford talking about men’s health:


On how the traditional All Blacks’ haka has evolved:


On the importance of te Reo Māori:


More to read:


From Rotorua Library:

Buck up: The real bloke’s guide to getting healthy and living longer, by Wayne Shelford

Buck Shelford: the man, the story, the truth, by John Matheson

Buck: the Wayne Shelford story, by Wayne Shelford and Wynne Gray


This entry is related to these other entries:

Joe Warbrick: Rugby hero



Alan Duff’s Maori Heroes, Random House, 2000\

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