Wayne Shelford

Wayne "Buck" Shelford
Full name Wayne Thomas Shelford
Date of birth (1957-12-13) 13 December 1957
Place of birth Rotorua, New Zealand
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 12 in)
Weight 93 kg (14 st 9 lb)
School Western Heights High School
Notable relative(s) Darrall Shelford (brother)
Frank Shelford (uncle)
Adrian Shelford (cousin)
Exia Shelford (cousin)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position No. 8
New Zealand No. 860
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
North Shore
Rugby Roma
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
North Harbour
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)

New Zealand Navy
New Zealand Māori
New Zealand


Coaching career
Years Club / team
North Harbour
correct as of 1 November 2006.

Wayne Thomas "Buck" Shelford MBE (born 13 December 1957) is a former New Zealand rugby union footballer and coach who represented and captained New Zealand (the All Blacks) in the late 1980s. He is also credited with bringing about the improved performance of the All Blacks' traditional "Ka Mate" haka.


After playing for Western Heights High School First XV, Shelford was selected for the Bay of Plenty Secondary Schools and Auckland age grade sides, and made his Auckland provincial debut in 1982. In 1985, when the North Harbour Rugby Union was created, he moved with it as his club side was a member. This was the same year he was first selected for the All Blacks, for the later abandoned South Africa tour.

Shelford's first game for the All Blacks was against Club Atlético San Isidro in Buenos Aires on 12 October 1985. He then joined the unauthorised Cavaliers tour of South Africa in 1986, which included 28 of the 30 players selected for the original tour.[1]

Shelford made his Test debut for the All Blacks later that year against France in a 19–7 victory in Toulouse, and then was a notable victim of the infamous "Battle of Nantes" in the second Test. Roughly 20 minutes into the match, he was caught at the bottom of a rather aggressive ruck, and an errant French boot found its way into Shelford's groin, somehow ripping his scrotum and leaving one testicle hanging free. He also lost four teeth in the process. Incredibly, after discovering the injury to his scrotum, he calmly asked the physio to stitch up the tear and returned to the field before a blow to his head left him concussed. He was substituted and watched the remainder of the game from the grandstand where he witnessed the All Blacks lose 16–3. To this day Shelford has no memory of the game.[2]

In 1987, the first Rugby World Cup was held in New Zealand. Shelford played in five of the six All Blacks games and was a member of the team that won the final against France 29–9. He was involved in an incident during the semi-final match against Wales that saw Huw Richards become the first player to be sent off in the tournament. Richards had punched All Black lock Gary Whetton after a loose scrum and Shelford reacted in defence of his team mate, landing a blow that knocked Richards to the ground. Shelford escaped punishment while Richards left the field.[3]

Shelford took over as All Black captain after the World Cup, first captaining the side during the 1987 tour of Japan. During his captaincy from 1987 to 1990, the All Blacks did not lose a game, only drawing once against Australia in 1988.

Upon becoming captain, Shelford brought his teammates to Te Aute College, a Māori school, to see the students perform a traditional haka. Although the All Blacks had been performing the haka at the start of their matches since the team's inception, it was Shelford who taught them the proper way to perform the "Ka Mate," haka.

Bring Back Buck sign at Fill The Basin charity cricket event

In 1990, the All Black selectors decided that Shelford was not up to the standard for the team and was controversially dropped after the test series against Scotland. The general public were unhappy with this decision, especially when the All Blacks lost the third test of their next series against Australia, ending a 17-test winning streak (and 49 game streak including non-tests) . After this fans started appearing at games with signs saying "Bring Back Buck", which continues even to this day at sporting events throughout the world.

Although Shelford never regained his place in the All Blacks side, he 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 14 tests. He also scored 22 tries in total in his All Blacks career.

In the 1991 New Year Honours, Shelford was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to rugby.[4]

Shelford moved to England to play for Northampton, helping to revitalise a team languishing at the lower end of the first division and inspiring them to their first Pilkington Cup final. He retired from playing all rugby in 1995 after a spell at the Rugby Roma, in the Italian Championship[5] and coached for some time in Britain, including spells at Saracens and Rugby Lions. He returned to New Zealand and was the assistant coach of the North Harbour team in 1997 and coach in 1998. Currently Shelford is coaching at his former club North Shore in Devonport.

Personal life

Shelford and his wife Joanne have two children, Lia (born 1981) and Eruera (born 1985), and also adopted his god-son Mitchell Haapu (born 1987).

On 23 June 2007, Shelford revealed that he was receiving treatment for the form of cancer known as lymphoma. He told Newstalk ZB's Murray Deaker that he wanted his privacy respected as he focused on his recovery and said he would not be making any further personal statements.[6] He recovered fully from the cancer.

Buck is currently studying at Massey University in Albany, Auckland. (2011)


  1. "New Zealand Factfile". CNN. 28 October 1999. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012.
  2. Soneji, Pranav (24 October 2002). "Buck's All Blacks fizz". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  3. Richards, Huw. An unfortunate claim to fame. ESPN Scrum. SFMS Limited. 7 October 2010. Accessed 8 October 2011.
  4. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 52383. p. 30. 31 December 1990. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  5. Rossano Emanuele (25 March 1995). "A video spento le mete per lo scudetto" [Without TV Coverage the Tries for the Italian Title]. Corriere della Sera. Milan. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  6. "Shelford receiving cancer treatment". One News. 23 June 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
David Kirk
All Blacks Captain
Succeeded by
Gary Whetton
Preceded by
Mike Clamp
Tom French Memorial
Māori rugby union player of the year

1987, 1988, 1989
Succeeded by
Frano Botica
Preceded by
Frano Botica
Succeeded by
Steve McDowall
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