All Blacks legend Bryan Williams becomes 'Sir Bryan'

Former All Black Sir Bryan Williams, KNZM, MBE.
Former All Black Sir Bryan Williams, KNZM, MBE. Photo credit: Photosport

Legendary All Blacks wing Bryan 'BG' Williams has become Sir Bryan, as a part of the New Year 2018 Honours list.

The 67-year-old is now a Knight Companion of the NZ Order of Merit for his services to rugby, one of three new knights and four dames in the honours list.

It is his fourth honour, having previously received the Order of the British Empire in 1983, the Samoan Order of Merit in 1996 and the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013.

Sir Bryan was born in Auckland in 1950. His father was Samoan and his mother was a Rarotongan of Samoan descent. He attended Mt Albert Grammer School, where it all began.

Sir Bryan made his name on the All Blacks tour of South Africa in 1970 and went on to play 113 times, including 38 Test matches, for New Zealand.

After hanging up the boots, he coached his club side Ponsonby and Auckland, before becoming closely involved with Manu Samoa in the 90s, and went on to become an assistant coach with the Hurricanes.

But Sir Bryan's love for rugby sees him recognised as one of the greats and he believes that love has got him to where he is today.

"I loved rugby right from the start and, fortunately, rugby has loved me back," he said. "Lots of really good and happy times, but also some sad times, and we are still together.

"It has been like a marriage - I have loved my time in rugby and I've been blessed, really.

"I guess you set your goals in life and if people want to recognise you, they do. I certainly haven't gone out with that in mind, but by the same token, I am very honoured and very humbled."

The comparison between rugby and marriage is a powerful one, with Sir Bryan admitting that his marriage with wife Leslie has taken a few hits over the years.

But she has remained loyal through the good and bad, and Sir Bryan knows he couldn't have achieved everything he has done without his partner by his side.

"I've always wanted to be happy and I've had a really happy marriage with Leslie. She has been long suffering, as one might say with a rugby widow.

"When I finished playing, I told her I would hanging up the boots and spending more time at home, and then, of course, I got into coaching and I started touring again.

"She has been fantastic - I owe a lot to her - but the family have been very special. My mum and dad, two brothers and sister and my kids, grandchildren - they have all played their part." 

Even though Sir Btryan is remembered as one of the greatest players to don the black jersey, he believes the best thing life has brought him was achieved off the field. 

"I loved my time in rugby, but my greatest achievement has been bringing my family, alongside my wife."

Despite all the success, Sir Bryan admits he wants to be remembered for the person he is, and not the player with blistering speed and power.

"Just as a fellow who made a contribution, enjoyed life and got on well with people - very simple objectives.

"I was brought up in a humble manner and I guess that is how I want to be remembered... as a humble human being." 

Other sporting recipients in the New Year 2018 Honours were:


Companion of NZ Order of Merit (CNZM)

William Norman Birnie, Auckland, for services to governance, the arts and sport


Officers of NZ Order of Merit (ONZM)

Robin Michael Newton Hood, Auckland, for services to springboard and platform diving

William Edward Speedy, Auckland, for services to philanthropy and watersport


Members of NZ Order of Merit (MNZM)

Calven Dennis Bonney, Auckland, for services to the trucking industry and motorsport

Elizabeth Anne Dawson, Wellington, for services to sports governance

John Clive Guthrie, Dunedin, for services to education and sport

John Leslie Mace, Auckland, for services to swimming

Paul McArdle, Havelock North, for services to cycling and the community

Paul Ferrier Pritchett, Church Bay, for services to yachting and the community

Nigel Dean Skelt, Invercargill, for services to badminton

Fiona Angeline Southorn, One Tree Point, for services to sport, particularly cycling

Mark James Stewart, Darfield, for services to the community and sport


Queen's Service Medal (QSM)

Diane Margaret Brown, Ngaruawahia, for services to the community and sport

Myra Larcombe, Opua, for services to swimming

Thelma Margaret Luxton, Waitara, for services to the community and cricket

James William Nicholas, Blenheim, for services to sport and the community

Lyndsay Stanton Wright, Greytown, for services to swimming