Rugby legend Ralph Caulton dies aged 87: Tributes pour in for All Blacks hero – who was the 600th player to represent New Zealand – following death

  • Ralph Caulton has died at the age of 87 
  • Caulton played 50 games for the All Blacks 
  • Tributes have poured in for the winger 

All Blacks rugby legend Ralph Caulton has died aged 87, it was confirmed on Tuesday.

The winger made 50 appearances for New Zealand between 1959 and 1964, becoming the 600th player to represent his country in the process.

NZ Rugby confirmed the sad news in a message posted to the All Blacks’ X page.

‘Our thoughts are with the family of All Black #600 Ralph Caulton,’ the statement read. 

‘Ralph gave so much to the game – having played 50 matches in the black jersey, he then went on to coach at his club Pōneke, and served as an administrator for both Wellington RFU and NZRFU.

‘Rest in peace, Ralph.’

Ralph Caulton has died at the age of 87, New Zealand Rugby has confirmed

Caulton played 16 Tests and 34 games for New Zealand, scoring eight tries in the Tests. 

He was described as a well balanced and quick runner, whose ability to capitalise on scoring opportunities made him a crucial cog in his team’s attack. 

Caulton was also regarded as a talented musician, and was one of the better pianists in the post-war All Blacks team. 

In an interview in 2020, Caulton said he was grateful of teammate Terry Lineen’s help in launching his All Blacks career.

The pair played together in three of the four Tests against the British and Irish Lions in 1959, and two against South Africa the next year. 

A daring attacking plan from Lineen saw Caulton enjoy a brilliant debut with the All Blacks, and the former halfback was keen to remind him of that fact whenever they met.

‘Every time I used to see him he would say ‘I made you’ and I used to say ‘you are right, you did’,’ Caulton told Stuff. 

‘In those days the marking was very intense because they [the defending team’s backline] used to line up at the back of the lineout.

The winger represented his country on 50 occasions from 1959 to 1964

The winger represented his country on 50 occasions from 1959 to 1964

‘So it was very hard to get the ball to the wings, let alone the centres. You had no show because you wouldn’t have enough time.

‘He [Lineen] said ‘you go out wide on your wing and what I will do is grubber kick the ball through towards the line down towards the corner.

‘There was a lot of scheming going on, as you can imagine. And sure enough, he put one through.

‘I thought the ball was going to go out, but wouldn’t you know it, the blasted thing stopped and bounced up and I grabbed it to score the try.’

Caulton scored his second try of the game a few minutes later, while he also scored a brace in the third Test against the Lions in Christchurch.