Former All Blacks captain and St Kevin’s College student Kevin Skinner passed away early yesterday morning in Auckland, aged 86.
Skinner played in the St Kevin’s First XV in 1943 and captained the side in 1944.
New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey said Skinner was regarded as one of the country’s finest props.
“It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of Kevin Skinner,” he said.
“Kevin was a much-admired player, regarded by many as one of New Zealand’s greatest props, while his role in the All Blacks’ first series win over South Africa in 1956 has earned him a place in rugby folklore.
“I am sure that in coming days, Kevin will be fondly remembered across New Zealand, in particular by the Otago rugby community, for his performances for the All Blacks as well as his continued contributions to the game as a coach and administrator.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”
Skinner was 21 when he made his All Blacks Test debut in May 1949 against South Africa in Cape Town. He went on to play 61 matches, including 18 tests, and captained the All Blacks in six matches, including two Tests, before retiring at the end of the 1954 season.
In 1956 he was recalled to the All Blacks for the final two tests against the touring Springboks, bringing his test tally to 20. The South African front row had been dominant in the first two tests but Skinner’s return strengthened the All Blacks and provided the side with the power and toughness required to ensure New Zealand’s first series win over the ‘Boks.
Skinner played his provincial rugby for Otago, mostly from the Pirates Club, before shifting to Waiuku in 1956 and turning out for Counties and the combined Bay of Plenty-Thames Valley-Counties side. He was part of the 1947 Otago side that lifted the Ranfurly Shield from Southland and the Combined side that faced the South Africans in 1956, a match held four days before the final test.
Following his retirement from playing, Skinner remained involved with the game as a club coach and later became involved with the Barbarians, including serving as president from 1988 to 1990. Skinner was also a skilled boxer, winning the New Zealand heavyweight boxing championship in 1947.
PHOTO: SUPPLIED – Former All Black and St Kevin’s College student Kevin Skinner passed away in Auckland yesterday.