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Marlborough legend Alan Sutherland has passed away

Former All Black and Marlborough Red Devils legend Alan Sutherland has died in South Africa.

Sutherland, who moved to South Africa shortly after his second All Blacks tour to the country in 1976, died on May 4.

He was 76.

A powerhouse No 8 or lock, Sutherland played 64 games for the All Blacks, including 10 tests.

He captained the All Blacks three times.Advertise with Stuff

Alan Sutherland pictured at Marlborough Rugby Union's 125th-anniversary celebrations in 2013.
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Alan Sutherland pictured at Marlborough Rugby Union's 125th-anniversary celebrations in 2013.

Sutherland had been battling bowel cancer. His death is not Covid-19 related.

Born in Marlborough, Sutherland was a key member of the 1973 Red Devils side who lifted the Ranfurly Shield from Canterbury with a famous 13-6 victory at Lancaster Park.

Sutherland's older brother Ray was the captain of the Marlborough team at the time.

Fellow Red Devils alumni Brian Dwyer described winning the Shield alongside the Sutherland brothers as his favourite moment in his rugby career.

Marlborough captain Ray Sutherland, left, proudly holds the Ranfurly Shield and his brother Alan, the Seddon Shield, in 1973.
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Marlborough captain Ray Sutherland, left, proudly holds the Ranfurly Shield and his brother Alan, the Seddon Shield, in 1973.

"It was a moment Marlburians never dreamed would come," Dwyer said.

"Alan was a wonderful footballer, a great rugby player and a massive part of a very successful period in Marlborough rugby. It's a very, very sad day for Marlborough rugby, he was one of the great legends."

Dwyer's father had selected a 17-year-old Sutherland for the Marlborough rugby team.

Alan Sutherland played for Marlborough from 1962 to 1976.
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Alan Sutherland played for Marlborough from 1962 to 1976.

"Our family had a very long association with Alan and the other members of the family. He was a good friend," Dwyer said.

"Pete Baker and I were just talking about him, we both played with him in his last game, in 1976 against Wellington. So he played from 1962 to 1976, he had a very long career with Marlborough. He was exceptional. He was very, very unlucky that at the start of his career Brian Lochore was the No 8 for the All Blacks and also the captain, so [Sutherland] didn't play as many games for the All Blacks as he could have.

"He was an outstanding player. A wonderful man, and a wonderful footballer. Probably the greatest Marlborough All Black, I would have thought."

Tasman Rugby Union chief executive Tony Lewis said the union was devastated to hear of Sutherland's death.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his brother Ray and the Sutherland family in Blenheim. Alan will be remembered as one of the greats."