Sean Fitzpatrick

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This article is about the rugby player. For the Irish banker, see Seán FitzPatrick.
Sean Fitzpatrick
Full name Sean Brian Thomas Fitzpatrick
Date of birth (1963-06-04) 4 June 1963 (age 51)
Place of birth Auckland, New Zealand
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 105 kg (16 st 7 lb)
School Sacred Heart College
Notable relative(s) Brian Fitzpatrick
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Hooker
New Zealand No. 871
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1986-1997 Auckland 127 (60)
Super Rugby
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1996–1997 Blues 25 (10)
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1986–1997 New Zealand 92 (55)

Sean Brian Thomas Fitzpatrick, ONZM (born 4 June 1963 in Auckland),[1] is a former rugby union player who represented New Zealand, and is widely regarded as one of the finest players ever to come from that country. He is also the son of former player Brian Fitzpatrick. Sean Fitzpatrick is the Founder and Director of the Front Row Group of Companies, which includes Front Row Leadership.

Early life[edit]

Fitzpatrick's high school education was at Sacred Heart College, Auckland. As a primary school student he attended at Mt Carmel Primary (Auckland).

Early rugby career[edit]

A product of the powerful Auckland provincial side, Fitzpatrick made his international debut as one of the "Baby Blacks" in the 1986 Test series in France. Although most of the regular starting fifteen for New Zealand had been suspended following the unauthorised "Cavaliers" tour of South Africa, the All Blacks won, and a number of new faces made their mark on the selectors. Despite this start, Fitzpatrick still went in to the inaugural Rugby World Cup as second choice to captain Andy Dalton. However, Dalton had to withdraw from the early stages of the tournament due to injury, and although he recovered in time for the finals, Fitzpatrick kept his place in the team, leaving scrum-half David Kirk to skipper the side to victory against France in the final at Eden Park in Auckland.

Captain of the All Blacks[edit]

In 1992 Fitzpatrick was awarded the captaincy of the All Blacks, a position he held until his retirement from Test Rugby. A first Test match win against the Springboks since their return from isolation, plus series victories over a World XV and Ireland were dampened by the loss of the Bledisloe Cup in Australia.

The biggest event of the rugby calendar in 1993 was the British Lions tour to New Zealand. The first test went narrowly to the All Blacks, with Grant Fox kicking a last minute 50-metre penalty to steal a win. This was avenged in the Second Test by the Lions with their highest-scoring Test win in New Zealand. In the third test, with Fitzpatrick faced the prospect of becoming only the second ever All Blacks captain to lead his team to a series defeat against the Lions. The side were 10–0 down at one point, but recovered to take the match convincingly and with it the series.

Unwanted history could not be avoided on the end of season tour to Britain however, as England picked up a win over New Zealand at Twickenham. 1994 was another up and down season for the All Blacks. South Africa were defeated 2–0 with one game drawn. However, France caused a major upset by winning their series in New Zealand 2–0, the first and only European team so far to achieve this.

By the time of the 1995 World Cup New Zealand had assembled a more formidable side. Ian Jones, Jeff Wilson, Andrew Mehrtens and Zinzan Brooke had proved themselves as world-class players, and Jonah Lomu would spectacularly announce himself during the tournament. New Zealand were most pundit's pre-tournament favourites. They duly reached the final against South Africa, who had stuttered through the early stages, while the All Blacks had convincingly defeated all opponents, the most remarkable being a semi-final against England, in which Lomu scored four tries. However Francois Pienaar’s side rose to the occasion, and won a close game in extra time with a Joel Stransky drop goal. It was a crushing disappointment for the All Blacks, although they would not have to wait long to exact revenge.

After storming through the first Tri Nations Series unbeaten, the All Blacks embarked upon a further three-match series in South Africa. No New Zealand side had ever won a series in South African before, but under Fitzpatrick in 1996 they won the first two tests of the three match series. The 1996 All Blacks were one of the great teams in the history of the game, and the series win cemented their captain’s place among the true greats. Continued success with Auckland in the NPC and the Auckland Blues in the new Super 12 continued in the following seasons, but it was clear that Fitzpatrick’s days in the game were numbered. He was carrying an injury in the autumn of 1997, yet such was his status that coach John Hart thought it would be good for the other players to include him in the party. He made his 92nd and final test appearance on 29 November 1997 as a substitute in the 42–7 victory against Wales at Wembley.

Legacy[edit]

Fitzpatrick was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 1997 New Year Honours.[2] He remains an icon in New Zealand and is highly respected in South Africa.

Fitzpatrick has rejected offers to coach rugby and is currently running a motivational speaking business, as well as acting as an analyst for UK television.

Fitzpatrick is the Founder and Director of the Front Row Group of Companies Ltd, a London-based private equity holding company and high-end hospitality company covering all global sports events. Front Row Leadership, part of the Front Row Group of Companies Ltd, is a leadership and motivational company that relates Fitzpatrick's experience and successes as an All Black Captain to being successful in business, together with other leaders from sport, military and business.

Sean Fitzpatrick is Deputy Chairman of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.

Honours[edit]

Auckland
Blues
New Zealand

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sean Fitzpatrick, Front Row Group - http://www.frontrowgroup.co.uk/about-sean-fitzpatrick.htm


Sporting positions
Preceded by
Gary Whetton
All Blacks Captain
1992–1997
Succeeded by
Justin Marshall (interim captain) / Taine Randell (permanent appointment)