Tom Willis (rugby union)

Last updated

Tom Willis
Birth name Thomas Eion Willis
Date of birth (1979-04-20) 20 April 1979 (age 39)
Place of birth Dunedin, New Zealand
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight 16 st 5 lb (104 kg)
School Kings High School
University Otago University
Rugby union career
Position(s) Hooker
All Black No. 1012
Senior career
YearsTeamApps(Points)
2008–2012 Dragons 63 (10)
Correct as of 2011-06-12
Provincial / State sides
YearsTeamApps(Points)
1999–2003
2004–2007
Otago
Waikato
43
26
(35)
(15)
Super Rugby
YearsTeamApps(Points)
2000–2003
2004–2008
Highlanders
Chiefs
23
42
(0)
(5)
National team(s)
YearsTeamApps(Points)
2001-2002 New Zealand 5 (0)

Tom Willis (born 20 April 1979 in Dunedin, New Zealand) is a former New Zealand international rugby union player who played in the hooker position.

Dunedin City in Otago, New Zealand

Dunedin is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the principal city of the Otago region. Its name comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.

Rugby union Team sport, code of rugby football

Rugby union, commonly known in most of the world simply as rugby, is a contact team sport which originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is between two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field with H-shaped goalposts at each end.

Contents

Playing career

New Zealand

Willis made his provincial debut for Otago in 1999 and his Super Rugby debut for the Highlanders the following year, but found playing time difficult to come by in the same sides as incumbent All Black hooker Anton Oliver and fellow rising star Andrew Hore.

Super Rugby rugby union competition

Super Rugby is a professional men's rugby union competition involving teams from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan. Building on various Southern Hemisphere competitions dating back to the South Pacific Championship in 1986, with teams from a number of southern nations, Super Rugby started as the Super 12 in the 1996 season with 12 teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The Super 12 was established by SANZAR after the sport became professional in 1995.

Anton Oliver New Zealand rugby union player

Anton David Oliver is a retired New Zealand rugby union player. Previously, he played as a hooker for Marlborough and Otago in the National Provincial Championship and Air New Zealand Cup, and spent twelve seasons with the Highlanders in Super Rugby. He earned 59 caps for his country and for a period was All Blacks captain.

Andrew Hore New Zealand rugby union player

Andrew Keith Hore is a former New Zealand rugby union player. He played for the All Blacks between 2002 and 2013. His position was hooker. He notably played for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby, but also represented the Highlanders and the Crusaders. When available, he played for Taranaki in the ITM Cup, now known as the Mitre 10 Cup. Hore retired from international rugby after playing Ireland during the 2013 All Black Northern Hemisphere tour, with a total of 83 test caps to his name. In 2008 Hore received the Kelvin Tremain Trophy for Rugby player of the year.

Injury to Oliver saw Willis finally see a starting role for the Highlanders in the 2002 Super 12 season, and he impressed enough that he was starting Tri Nations games for the All Blacks following the campaign. However, with Oliver back healthy Willis again found himself on the reserve bench for both the 2003 Super Rugby and NPC seasons. Despite a lack of playing time, he still managed to show his substantial ability in limited minutes - in the 2003 NPC he scored 5 tries despite making only 2 starts in 9 total appearances.

The 2002 Super 12 season was the seventh season of the Super 12, contested by teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The season ran from February to May 2002, with each team playing all the others once. At the end of the regular season, the top four teams entered the playoff semi finals, with the first placed team playing the fourth and the second placed team playing the third. The winner of each semi final qualified for the final, which was contested by the Crusaders and the Brumbies at Jade Stadium, Christchurch. The Crusaders won 31 – 13 to win their fourth Super 12 title.

Following the 2003 provincial season, Willis transferred to Waikato and the Chiefs in a bid to get more consistent playing time. However, shortly thereafter he suffered complications following a back injury, which forced him out of rugby for over a year. [1]

Waikato Rugby Union sports club

The Waikato Rugby Union (WRU) is the official governing body of rugby union in the Waikato area in the North Island of New Zealand. Its senior representative team competes in the Mitre 10 Cup, and won the inaugural Air New Zealand Cup in 2006.

After missing the entire 2005 Super 12 season, Willis returned to hold down the starting position at hooker for the Chiefs for another three seasons through 2008.

The 2005 Super 12 season was the tenth season of the Super 12, contested by teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The season ran from February to May 2005, with each team playing all the others once. At the end of the regular season, the top four teams entered the playoff semi finals, with the first placed team playing the fourth and the second placed team playing the third. The winner of each semi final qualified for the final, which was contested by the Canterbury Crusaders and New South Wales Waratahs at Jade Stadium, Christchurch. The Crusaders won 35 – 25 to win their fifth Super 12 title.

However, it was as captain of Waikato that he achieved his greatest triumphs, as he led the province to the 2006 Air New Zealand Cup championship as well as a Ranfurly Shield triumph over North Harbour in 2007.

The 2006 Air New Zealand Cup was the inaugural season of the Air New Zealand Cup, contested by teams from New Zealand. The season ran from July to October 2006. At the end of the regular season, the top team from Repechage A and B joined with teams from the Top Six who entered the quarter-finals, with the winners going through to the semi-finals. The winner of each semi-final qualified for the final, which was contested between Waikato and Wellington, with Waikato winning 37–31 to win the first Air New Zealand Cup title.

Ranfurly Shield

The Ranfurly Shield, colloquially known as the Log o' Wood, is a trophy in New Zealand's domestic rugby union competition. First played for in 1904, the Shield is based on a challenge system, rather than a league or knockout competition as with most football trophies. The holding union must defend the shield in challenge matches, which are played at the shield holders home venue, and if the challenger is successful in their challenge they will become the new holder of the Shield.

North Harbour Rugby Union sports club

The North Harbour Rugby Union (NHRU), commonly known as North Harbour or simply Harbour, is a provincial rugby team that was formed in 1985 by clubs that left the Auckland Rugby Union. It competes in the Mitre 10 Cup, the successor to the country's former domestic competition, the National Provincial Championship (NPC).

Europe

On 23 April 2008, Willis confirmed he was joining Welsh Celtic League side Newport Gwent Dragons for the following European season. [2]

After arriving in Wales, he was quickly appointed team captain and made 25 appearances in his first season for the club.

Willis retired from rugby in January 2012 due to injury. [3]

International Play

Willis was first selected to the All Blacks for their end of year tour in 2001, where he made starts - and was named team captain - against Ireland A and Scotland A. However, neither of these contests were considered test matches.

After a strong 2002 Super 12 season, he was again selected to the All Blacks for that year's domestic and Tri Nations tests. He made his test debut on 8 June 2002, starting in a 64–10 win over Italy in Hamilton. [4] He would go on to make another four appearances for New Zealand that year.

However, these would be his final international appearances. Injury ruled him out of the 2002 end of year tour, and he was left off the 2003 Rugby World Cup squad. His long injury layoff in 2004-2005 would then ultimately serve to permanently end his international career.

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References