Canterbury : 1982-84-85-86-87-88-89-90-91-92 ; 126 G, 33 Tries, = 132pts
Canterbury Country : 1983-84-85-86
NZ Colts : (U21) 1982
NZ Junior’s : (U23) 1984
NZ Emerging Players : 1985
South Zone : 1987-89
South Island :1985-86
NEW ZEALAND : 1986-87-88-89-91-92 ; 45g, (14 Tests) 14 t , = 57pts
Career : 234 games , 57 tries, 229pts
Member 1987 World Cup Winning Squad
Andy Earl #870
Andy Earl was one of those rugby players who was a victim of his own versatility. He always wore the tag of a utility and for that reason even though between 1986 and 1992 he was invariably a first choice for any touring team he received few tests.
He gained 14 test caps but was never a regular test selection. Indeed, he only became an All Black as one of the development type players suddenly catapulted into the test lineup because of the suspension for two tests of the Cavaliers for their unauthorised tour of South Africa in 1986.
Earl thus was one of the celebrated Baby Blacks. In the famous test win at Lancaster Park Earl was used as a lock, where he frequently played both in provincial rugby and for the All Blacks even though at 1.91m and being under 100kgs he didn’t quite have the height or weight for the position.
In the next test played by the Baby Blacks, against Australia at Athletic Park, Earl played on the blindside flank. His next test start was as a No 8 in the final pool game of the 1987 World Cup tournament against Argentina at Athletic Park.
That was Earl’s only appearance in the 1987 tournament, and thereafter his test career followed a sporadic pattern.
But he continued to be a regular tourist, adding to the tour he made to France in 1986 by touring Japan (1987), Australia (1988), Ireland and Wales (1989), France again (1990), Argentina 1991, the World Cup again in 1991 and as a replacement to Australia and South Africa in 1992.
On all of these tours Earl was top value and while he appeared in none of the tests he was especially impressive in Australia in 1988, forming a potent second string backrow trio with Mike Brewer and Zinzan Brooke.
Earl’s most effective position was as a blindside flanker and he excelled in the position when an injury to Alan Whetton gave him the 1989 internationals against Wales and Ireland.
But he was displaced as first choice by Whetton’s return the following year. Whether this was fair was a moot point. The severe hamstring injury Whetton suffered in 1989 meant he was never quite the same force he had been in 1987 and 1988 and certainly there was a good case in 1991 for Earl being preferred.
Earl’s international career appeared to be over only for him to be called in as a reinforcement for the All Blacks’ tour of Australia in 1992. He played in the second test against the Wallabies and came on as a replacement for Robin Brooke in the third test.
The circumstances behind Earl joining the 1992 All Blacks illustrated his considerable toughness and almost elevated him to legendary status.
With little major rugby behind him he went straight from battling snow blizzards to save stock on his North Canterbury farm to play almost immediately in the heat of Australia.
Truly a rugged outdoorsman, Earl was never noted for his airs and graces. He was nicknamed “Wurzel” after the television character and because of a suspicion the Earl mop of hair most mornings received only the briefest of combings.
Earl also had a distinuished record in provincial rugby. As a 17-year old he represented Wairarapa-Bush, playing in the side which under Brian Lochore’s coaching won first division status in 1981. After four seasons with Wairarapa-Bush Earl returned to his home province and as a lock, blindside flanker and No 8 played a leading role in the 1983-85 Ranfurly Shield era. His 126 matches for Canterbury plus the 34 he made for Wairarapa-Bush meant he is one of the few players, and the first, to have appeared against every New Zealand union.
Subsequently he played in England for The Rugby Football Club, and his New Zealand teammates would be surprised to know “Wurzel’s” photo appeared in the Rugby Football Club programme, modelling clothing sponsored by Rugby Cement.
His brother, Chris, a prop, played for Canterbury 1984-91 and for N Z Colts, Emerging Players and the South Zone.
Profile by Lindsay Knight
|FULL NAME||Andrew Thomas Earl|
|BORN||Tuesday, 12 September 1961 in Christchurch, New Zealand|
|LAST SCHOOL||St Bede’s College|
(First made All Blacks from)
|ALL BLACK DEBUT||Saturday, 28 June 1986
v France at Christchurch
aged 24 years, 289 days
|INTERNATIONAL DEBUT||Saturday, 28 June 1986
v France at Christchurch
aged 24 years, 289 days
|LAST TEST||Saturday, 25 July 1992
v Australia at Sydney
aged 30 years, 317 days
|ALL BLACK TESTS||14 (4 as a substitute) 14|
|ALL BLACK GAMES||31 (4 as a substitute) 31|
|TOTAL ALL BLACK MATCHES||45 (8 as a substitute) 45|
|STARTING POSITIONS||Jersey Number 5 : 1
Jersey Number 6 : 7
Jersey Number 8 : 2
Jersey Number 16 : 4
|ALL BLACK TEST POINTS||12pts (3t, 0c, 0p, 0dg, 0m)|
|ALL BLACK GAME POINTS||45pts (11t, 0c, 0p, 0dg, 0m)|
|TOTAL ALL BLACK POINTS||57pts (14t, 0c, 0p, 0dg, 0m)|
|ALL BLACK NUMBER||870|