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Funny man, serious rugby player

Funny man, serious rugby player


Stuart Sinclair Wilson, known as Stu, appeared to enjoy life and scoring tries for the All Blacks.


Renowned for his sense of humour and extroverted nature, Stu brought this confidence onto the field and made try scoring appear effortless.

A highly skilled player who used his considerable speed and rugby brain to score many electric tries for New Zealand, Stu was a bold, exciting player to watch who, like Bryan Williams at his peak, performed with an almost arrogant nature.

When most players would dive on the ball to score a try, Wilson in one instance casually planted one hand on the loose ball to score. Stu did however score many tries with an exaggerated two-handed dive across the try line.

A gifted player who used his physical attributes of pace and stature to beat opposition players, he became one of the most admired All Blacks wingers because of his try-scoring feats.

Stuart Wilson was born in Gore in 1954 but was educated at Wairarapa College in Masterton. With his good nature and leadership abilities, Stu captained the seniors team at the Wellington College Old Boys Club in the early ’70s, apparently this advancement was related to giving up smoking!


He became a New Zealand Colt in 1975, then played for Wellington B for only two games, before becoming a permanent fixture in the Wellington A side. In his first 15 games Stu scored 16 tries.

He turned out for the North Island and in 1976 was selected for the All Blacks B team for the tour of Argentina. Stu, Andy Haden, and Graham Mourie were the only ones to go on and cement places in future All Blacks teams.

Generic vintage rugby league or rugby union ball

(Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Wilson made his All Blacks debut against a Buenos Aires selection aged 22 years old. It was at this time I became a Stu Wilson fan and admired his attacking ability.

Stu made his Test debut in 1977 versus France in Toulouse aged 23. His career included 85 matches for the All Blacks, including 34 Tests.


He dotted down for 50 tries in his distinguished career. Nine overseas tours included the acclaimed 1978 grand slam tour, beating Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland for the first time.

Because the All Blacks forwards were not as dominant as previous years, the team adopted a 15-man approach, which suited players like Wilson and the brilliant Bruce Robertson. Robertson had a major hand in many of Stu’s tries.

He was named captain of the All Blacks team to Scotland and England in 1983, which resulted in a draw and a loss.

I remember watching the loss against England from a pub in London and feeling devastated, not helped to be surrounded by Englishmen!

Stu was probably one of the few outside backs to ever captain the All Blacks, maybe the one and only.


He retired from Test rugby in 1984, still at the peak of his form. His 19 Test tries were a record until eclipsed by John Kirwan in 1988.

Wilson played for Wellington from 1975 to 1984 with 89 appearances. He built up a strong alliance with the other wing Bernie Fraser and they entertained the public both on and off the field.

They appeared to play with a sixth sense, knowing exactly where the other one was, often both turning up on the same side of the field.

Along with Allan Hewson, the three formed a superb attacking unit, which was transferred to the All Blacks.

Although Hewson was never a tackling authority, he did possess pace and flair. Wilson and Fraser were cult figures and were used extensively in marketing circles.

A general view of a lineout at sunset

(Photo by Richard Heathcote – World Rugby via Getty Images)

Stu’s retirement was controversial because he and Fraser accepted book royalties for Ebony and Ivory, which breached the IRB rules. The good old amateur days.

Stu Wilson went into radio and television commentary after retiring from rugby. It never brought in sufficient income, however.

He also dabbled in real estate for several years. A public speaker of note, he entertained audiences with his sense of humour and rugby tales.

Stu in recent years has been training as an orderly at Tauranga Hospital to keep himself occupied during retirement. Hard to believe he is 67!


He is a popular staff member who is often enticed into recalling the good ol’ days of All Blacks rugby. His friends call him Phar Lap in relation to his enlarged heart.

Stu Wilson was a classy player who made rugby look relatively easy. To be named captain in 1983 meant he had great respect from coaching, players, and management. He made many friends from his international rugby playing days.

He was a gifted player who had all the necessary weapons to make him a try-scoring machine. A swerve, extreme pace, cleverness, and the ability to crash through tacklers were features.

Stu Wilson, another favourite All Black.