Former Newport scrum half and captain James Hawkins died at the age of 90 at Summerhill Nursing Home, Newport on Sunday, February 23.
One of the greatest Welsh players never to win a cap for his country, Hawkins played 253 times for Newport before and after the second World war, captaining the club for two years between 1944-46. At the time of his retirement, he was 10th on Newport's all-time appearance list.
A highly individualistic player, the Risca-born Hawkins had the complete kicking game and played three times against touring teams from New Zealand in his distinguished career, enjoying different results on each occasion.
His first assignment against the All Blacks came when he was only 22, against Jack Manchester's 1935 team at Rodney Parade on 31 October.
Manchester's side were expected to win easily, but they had to rely on two dropped goals, a goal from a mark and a penalty before coming out on top 17-5 in a great match. Newport matched the tourists' try for try in front of a crowd of 18,000.
After war intervened, Hawkins was back to lead Newport out against the 1945/46 Kiwis team, a group of servicemen based in Europe most of who went on to become Test stars.
The match was played four days after Christmas, 1945, and was drawn 3-3. Hawkins, the only survivor of the 1935 match, scoring Newport's points with an unconverted try after the visitors had taken the lead with a first minute penalty.
Hawkins was the hero as he controlled the match with his clever tactical kicking and was always ready to soak up punishment from the opposing pack. His try in the second half came in the follow-up to a forward drive.
Two months later, on February 27, 1946, Hawkins was joined by five of his clubmates who had played in the drawn game to lead Monmouthshire to a mighty victory at a passion-packed Pontypool Park.
This time there was no escape for the Kiwis, who found themselves on the wrong end of a 15-0 defeat - only their second reverse of a 27-match tour after defeat against Scotland at Murrayfield.
Hawkins found himself playing against the pre-war New Zealand international Charlie Saxton, who later went on to manage the 1967 All Blacks in Britain.
But it was the cagey Hawkins who dictated how Monmouthshire played the game and he put his side ahead with a cheeky drop goal, which then counted as four points. He urged his side on in front of a 25,000 crowd and enjoyed the greatest day of his career.
Hawkins worked at Lysaghts Steel Works in Newport and his wife, Cecilia, was one of the vitally important tea-room ladies at Rodney Parade in the 1950s. He became a member of the Newport Athletic Club rugby committee and also won the Newport Athletic Club open bowls competition one summer.