Fred Allen (rugby union)

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Sir Fred Allen
Full name Frederick Richard Allen
Date of birth (1920-02-09)9 February 1920
Place of birth Oamaru, Otago, New Zealand
Date of death 28 April 2012(2012-04-28) (aged 92)
Place of death Auckland, New Zealand
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight 79 kg (174 lb)
School Phillipstown School
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position First five-eighths/Fly-half
New Zealand No. 449
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
correct as of 2007-01-30.
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
correct as of 2007-01-30.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1946–1949 New Zealand 6 (0)
correct as of 2007-01-30.
Coaching career
Years Club / team
New Zealand
correct as of 2007-01-30.

Sir Frederick "Fred" Richard Allen KNZM OBE (9 February 1920 – 28 April 2012) was a captain and coach of the All Blacks, New Zealand's national rugby union team. The All Blacks won all 14 of the test matches they played under his coaching.

Personal life

Allen was born in Oamaru, New Zealand. He was educated in Christchurch (though he did not attend secondary school), and played for the Linwood club. After captaining the Canterbury Colts in 1938, he was selected for Canterbury in 1939. During World War II Allen served as a lieutenant in the 27th and 30th Battalions in the Pacific and Italy. He played for service teams including the 2nd NZEF "Kiwis" Army team that toured Britain following the war.


When he returned to New Zealand he settled in Auckland as a women's clothing manufacturer. He played for Auckland Grammar Old Boys 1946–48, and was selected for the All Blacks in 1946. In 1949 he was selected as captain of the All Blacks for the 1949 tour to South Africa. Although each test match was very close, the All Blacks lost the series 4–0. Allen retired from playing after the series.

Allen went on to coach, and was a selector-coach for Auckland during their Ranfurly Shield era of the late 1950s. He became an All Blacks selector, before becoming All Blacks coach in 1966. A fierce but very effective coach, Allen picked up the nickname of "The Needle". The All Blacks' reign under Allen was the team's most successful; they won all 14 of their tests with him as coach.[1] The New Zealand Rugby Football Union awarded Allen the Steinlager Salver in 2002, and in 2005 Allen was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.


In the New Year Honours 1991 Allen was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to rugby.[2] In the Queen's Birthday Honours 2010 Allen was appointed as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby.[3]

Following the death of Morrie McHugh on 25 September 2010, Allen had been the oldest living All Black.[4]


Allen developed leukaemia and died on 28 April 2012. He had moved into full-time care on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, north of Auckland.[5]

All Blacks statistics

Tests: 6 (6 as Captain)
Games: 15 (15 as Captain)
Total Matches: 21 (21 as Captain)
Test Points: 0pts
Game Points: 21pts (7t, 0c, 0p, 0dg, 0m)
Total Points: 21pts (7t, 0c, 0p, 0dg, 0m)

Notes and references

Fred the Needle: the untold story of Sir Fred Allen the authorised biography by Alan Sayers and Les Watkins (2011. Auckland, Hodder Moa)

  1. This record of 14 wins in 14 tests was later equalled in South Africa by Kitch Christie.
  2. "New Year Honours 1991" (25 January 1991) 79 New Zealand Gazette 216.
  3. "Queen's Birthday Honours 2010" (6 July 2010) 79 New Zealand Gazette 2153.
  4. "Oldest All Black McHugh dies". The New Zealand Herald. 28 September 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Death of Fred the 'Needle'". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 28 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Neil McPhail
All Blacks coach
Succeeded by
Ivan Vodanovich
Preceded by
Morrie McHugh
Oldest living All Black
25 September 2010 – 28 April 2012
Succeeded by
Bob Scott