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Don McKay holds a unique place in New Zealand rugby history

Don McKay holds a unique place in New Zealand rugby history

All BlacksFebruary 8, 2024

All Blacks wing Don McKay, who died in Auckland on February 6, aged 86, was part of a unique piece of rugby history when he made his Test debut against France at Eden Park in 1961.

McKay scored in the first play of the Test against the French, who were playing their first Test on New Zealand soil.

McKay talked about his All Blacks debut in Behind the Silver Fern.

"It was great to play my first Test on my home ground at Eden Park. I had played in front of big crowds in Ranfurly Shield games, but I remember the intensity of the crowd when we ran out.

"The air was electric. I felt like I had a block of ice in my stomach. You were concentrating so much that the halves seemed about ten minutes long.

"Don Clarke kicked the ball dead to start the game, which you were allowed to do then. The French brought the ball up to the twenty-five [22m], and a Frenchman was in front of the re-start.

"So, we got the scrum feed in the middle of the field. Des Connor, at halfback, always looked for space. He got the ball from the scrum, and Neil Wolfe, the first-five, came around my side with the ball and passed to me.

"The French fullback was standing on the goal line, so it was easy to run in and out at him to score.

"Des had his first touch of the ball in Test rugby when he fed the scrum, Neil had his first touch when passing to me for my first touch in Tests. Scoring the try so early in the game gave me a sense of relief."

McKay, who scored two tries in five Tests, was part of Auckland's Ranfurly Shield side of the early 1960s under the coaching of Fred Allen.

He played in the three Tests against France and the two Tests of England's short tour to New Zealand in 1963, scoring a try in the second Test, his final All Blacks appearance.

He toured Australia in 1962 and finished as the leading try scorer with 16 tries, including five in the second half of the 103-0 win over Northern New South Wales.

While he was in the running for a place in the 1963-64 All Blacks team that played in Britain, Ireland, and France later that season, he missed out because the selectors opted to develop younger wingers with the future in mind.

He played 89 games for Auckland between 1958 and 1966. He became an administrator at club and provincial level and was made a life member of the Auckland Rugby Union, North Shore Rugby Club and NZ Barbarians.

We are saddened by the passing of All Black #618 Don McKay yesterday. In addition to his 12 matches in the black jersey, Don gave back to the game as an administrator at club and provincial level, and was a Life Member of Auckland Rugby, North Shore Rugby Club and NZ Barbarians. pic.twitter.com/gmnNHOAz7Y

— New Zealand Rugby (@NZRugby) February 7, 2024

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