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Robbie Deans – rugby legend, cricket lover

Robbie Deans is most well known as an All Black, the coach of a very successful Crusaders Super Rugby franchise and the longest serving coach of the Wallabies.

But there’s an argument his first sporting love is cricket.

Robbie’s late father, Tony Deans, is probably best described as a cricket tragic. He was regularly seen in his favourite spot in the stands of the old Lancaster Park watching Canterbury and New Zealand teams play and on the boundary supporting Robbie, Bruce and his grandson through their primary and secondary school cricket years.

Tony’s love of cricket was undoubtedly passed on to his sons Robbie and Bruce. Robbie had a very successful cricketing career and was in the Christ College first XI in 1975, 1976 and 1977. That team was stacked with other well-known rugby players including his late brother in law Jock Hobbs (All Black Test Captain and Chairman of New Zealand Rugby), his brother Bruce (All Black No.891) and Jo Leota, another successful Canterbury rugby representative.

Robbie played for the New Zealand Secondary Schools Cricket XI in 1977 against Australian state teams against notable opponents including Carl Rackerman, Peter May and David Boon.

A highlight for Robbie was a pre-tournament match at the Cheviot Domain in which Boon scored a century. Robbie reciprocated by scoring 158 for New Zealand against Boon’s Tasmanian team, a record for the tournament at the time.

In addition Robbie represented Canterbury in the Under 23 cricket teams of 1978 and 1979, a Canterbury XI in 1982 and played for Canterbury Country in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995.

While Rob’s rugby and coaching career has flourished he has maintained an involvement with cricket retaining membership of The Willows Club and IZingari Australia, based in Sydney, scoring a half century for a Rugby XI in defeating a League XI at the Sydney Cricket Ground, also the scene of his 1984 Bledisloe Cup victory as a player, the last rugby test to be played at this ground.

Robbie is very much looking forward to scoring some runs, taking some catches and quite possibly wicket keeping and bowling in the April 2018 Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival in Christchurch when he takes the field with the combined IZingari/Willows team.

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