North Harbour vs Counties, 1987

North Harbour vs Counties, 1987

Wayne 'Buck' Shelford behind the North Harbour scrum during their 33–12 win over Counties in 1987. The All Black captain from 1987 to 1990,  Shelford is probably still North Harbour’s most famous player.

Shelford is remembered as much for the ‘Bring Back Buck’ campaign that followed his dumping as All Black captain as for his brilliance as a no. 8. Shelford made his test debut for the All Blacks against France in 1986 and was a victim in the infamous ‘Battle of Nantes’. After taking over the captaincy from David Kirk he led the All Blacks through one of their most dominant periods. They were unbeaten between 1987 to 1990 – a 19-all draw with Australia in 1988 was the only blemish on their record. The selectors shocked many by dropping Shelford after two tests against Scotland in 1990. There was a groundswell of support for a man many believed typified all that All Black rugby was supposed to be with his tough, uncompromising play. After Australia won the third test of the subsequent series, ‘Bring Back Buck’ signs began appearing at grounds all over the country. Talkback radio spoke of little else for a time. But the selectors never brought Buck back, and in 1991 Shelford retired as a player.

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