This week has seen another legend of the game hang up his boots for good in former All Blacks captain Kieran Read. After the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Tokyo, Read retired from international rugby but has now announced his time on the pitch has officially come to an end.
After a stellar career that saw Read win everything available to him, we look back at the path he took to becoming one of the best to ever play the game.
Kieran Read truly was a loyal one team player for both club and country. He first signed with the Christchurch-based side Crusaders in 2007 and went on to stay with them until 2019. In his 12-year tenure with the club, Read made 156 appearances, receiving his debut as Crusader #110 in a game against the Blues in 2007.
Kieran Read calls time on rugby career
Although he started as a flanker, he switched positions and moved to No.8 in his second season at the Crusaders. That year they won the Super Rugby title after beating the Australian side NSW Waratahs 20-12 in the final.
That same year, he received his first call-up to the All Blacks squad for the end-of-season tour and made his debut for New Zealand in a 32-6 win over Scotland. From then on, Read claimed his place in the starting squad alongside powerhouse flanker Jerome Kaino. The two would go on to play together in the team until Read’s retirement in 2019.
Read scored his first try for the All Blacks in the summer of 2010 in a historic and memorable 66-28 win over Ireland at Yarrows Stadium in New Plymouth. This try would be the first of 26 in total that Kieran Read scored for his country, his last of which coming against bitter rivals Australia in the 2018 end-of-year Tests.
He was named in the squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and played in four of the seven matches, including the final win over France, handing Read the first of his two Rugby World Cup titles.
In 2012, after cementing his place as a versatile and dynamic back-row forward at both domestic and international level, Read was named captain of the Crusaders, taking over from an injured Richie McCaw.
Later that same year, he was announced as the next All Blacks captain, becoming the 66th in history, again taking over from teammate McCaw. His first match in charge came against Italy at the Stadio Olympico in November 2012, a game in which the All Blacks ran away with victory 42-10.
As Read continued to go from strength to strength, 2013 was certainly a memorable year in his career. He played all but 20 minutes of the 13 Tests that the All Blacks played that year and was named IRB Player of the Year, which made him just the third New Zealander to win the award after Richie McCaw and Dan Carter.
Read won his second Rugby World Cup in 2015 after beating France, South Africa and ultimately Australia 34-17 in the final to become one of just 21 players in history to win the trophy more than once in their career. Other legendary players to have accomplished this achievement include teammates Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu and Springboks Os du Randt and Francois Steyn.
After nine years without a domestic trophy, Read’s Crusaders won the Super Rugby title three times on the bounce under new coach Scott Robertson, taking Read’s total to four overall. They beat the Emirates Lions in the final in both 2017 and 2018 and the Argentinian Jaguares in 2019.
Read moves on from the All Blacks and Crusaders
2019 marked the end of the road for Kieran Read at both the Crusaders and the All Blacks. New Zealand finished third in the 2019 Rugby World Cup after losing to England in the semi-finals and that would be his last game wearing the famous jersey before passing on the captaincy to current skipper Sam Cane. He played a total of 128 games for the All Blacks, scoring 26 tries, making him the third most capped All Black and their most proficient try, scoring number eight.
Read secured a move to Japan to play for Toyota Verblitz in the Top League, joining just his second ever club team at the age of 33. He made 156 appearances for the Crusaders, scoring 25 tries. Read spent one season in Japan, playing 10 times and scoring twice before deciding to retire in May 2021.
Kieran Read finishes his career with an outstanding two Rugby World Cups, seven Rugby Championships, 11 consecutive Bledisloe Cups, four Super Rugby Titles, six Team of the Year awards and one World Player of the Year award. He ends as a true legend of the game and as someone who has stylized the idea of the number eight jersey for generations to come.
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