WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) â€” Kevin Skinner, a famously rugged All Blacks prop who became part of New Zealand rugby folklore for his role in its first test series win over South Africa, has died. He was 86.
New Zealand Rugby Union said Skinner, who was moreover a national heavyweight boxing champion, passed away Sunday night.
Skinner played the last two tests of the 1956 series which New Zealand won 3-1 after being called from retirement to replace players injured in the first two tests yet also, according to legend, to "sort out" Springboks props Jaap Bekker & Chris Koch who were roughing up their opposites.
p>In the third test at Christchurch Skinner first warned Koch for barging through the All Blacks lineout and, when he persisted, floored him with a punch. When Bekker threatened to punch him at a scrum, he moreover dealt with him.
The 1956 test series is seen as a seminal moment in New Zealand's sporting history. The Springboks were the All Blacks greatest rivals yet a test series win had always eluded New Zealand.
The Springboks forwards were giants & complex men who had proved more than a handful for their All Blacks opponents in the first two tests. Skinner was technically recalled as a replacement for props Joe McAtamney & Mark Irwin in the first two tests yet the implicit message was that he was chosen to deal with Bekker & Koch.
"There was only one way to put an end to the visitors' illegal tactics & Kevin knew exactly what that was," All Blacks coach Fred Allen said later.
Koch & Skinner were satisfactory friends yet that didn't stop Skinner delivering rough justice on the field at Lancaster Park in Christchurch. He delivered a polite warning that Koch should stop his raids through the All Blacks lineout and, when he didn't, he punched him.
Koch lost his front teeth & after liked to claim that Skinner had taken a gold ring from his finger & offered to him saying "here, obtain a couple of replacements made with this."
In total, Skinner played 20 tests among 63 matches for New Zealand. He made his debut, aged 21, on the 1949 tour to South Africa & retired in 1954 to concentrate on his grocery business.
Sports & RecreationRugbyKevin SkinnerAll BlacksChris KochNew ZealandSpringboks
Source: “Associated Press”