Ex-All Black dies while surfing in Australia

Planet Rugby

Former All Black winger and New Zealand national sprint champion Terry Morrison has died whilst surfing on Christmas Eve.

The 70-year-old passed away on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, where he resided for several years.

Morrison, nicknamed the “flying wing”, played four matches for the All Blacks in 1973, including a 16-10 loss to England at Eden Park.

Tragic loss

Sir Bryan Williams, a New Zealand rugby great and former All Black and Ponsonby team-mate of Morrison, has been heavily affected by the tragic passing of his friend. 

“It’s really sad news,” Williams told the New Zealand Herald. “I’m saddened by it.

“We played quite a bit of rugby and socialised together.”

Apart from representing his country, Morrison was also a national sprint champion making him one of the fastest All Black players in history.

The “flying wing” made his debut for the All Blacks in 1973’s internal tour of New Zealand, playing three matches before making his solitary Test appearance in the loss against England.

Williams was informed of his friend’s passing through a close friend of Morrison’s in the New Zealand athletics community.

“Apparently he had a heart attack while surfing, and they couldn’t revive him,” said Williams.

Morrison had been living in Australia for more than two decades, initially in Sydney and the Sunshine Coast more recently.

A Ponsonby Rugby Football Club biography wrote that Morrison’s failure to control a high ball against England proved costly for the All Blacks as the visitors recovered the ball to score the winning points.

“That was a time when mistakes were remembered for years,” the biography writes.

“Morrison would have been extremely valuable in South Africa in 1976. A wing with express pace is always an asset on the hard grounds and he had shown just that during the club’s [Ponsonby’s] 1975 tour.

“Scoring several tries simply through speed, including a 75-yard match-winner against Pretoria Police, Morrison impressed local critics who thought him an essential part of the next All Blacks side.”

Williams believes that Morrison’s achievements on the rugby field and the track were something to cherish irrespective of a short All Blacks career.

“As well as being an All Black he was a New Zealand 200m champion as well,” he said.

“When you represent New Zealand in two sports you have certainly achieved a great deal. He was a New Zealand athletics champion and an All Black – that is pretty special.”

Williams spoke of Morrison’s unbelievable pace: “It was literally just a case of giving him the ball and then chasing after him to see if you could stay [with him].

“He would run around everyone and score at the other end.

“This one game we [Ponsonby] played the Pretoria Police in Pretoria in 1975; it was a really tough match, a really rugged match with lots of fisticuffs and that sort of thing. I remember giving him the ball on our 22m and he just blitzed everyone and scored at the other end under the bar.”

The try proved crucial in claiming the win for Ponsonby.

According to Williams, Morrison was a very successful sportsman but, above all, an incredible person.

“He was quiet and considered. But there was always a smile on his face and he was always good company,” he added.

“We played quite a bit together for about four years and he then went into business and end up in Australia.

“I still bumped in to him from time to time as he was coming back and forth from Australia to New Zealand. We would catch up.

“I am losing a few of my mates at the moment.”