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Former All Black who demanded finger amputation for Springboks tour dies aged 87

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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Richard “Red” Conway, a famously tough All Blacks back rower who ordered doctors to amputate a finger to ensure he didn’t miss a tour to South Africa, has died. He was 87.

Conway’s death was confirmed Friday by his family who said he “passed away peacefully” but did not specify a cause.

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Known as Red for his bright ginger hair, Conway played 10 tests and 15 matches for the All Blacks between 1959 and 1965.

He also was a catcher in softball and it was in that role he first sprained, then broke the third finger of his right hand.

When the finger was set it had a kink and doctors warned Conway it would likely break again while playing rugby.

Between the All Black trial and the naming of the team to tour South Africa, Conway told doctors to amputate the finger.


They did and he was selected for the tour on which he played two Tests and 15 matches.

Former New Zealand rugby broadcaster Keith Quinn said Conway was one of the toughest All Blacks of all-time.


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