New Zealand All Black great: David Kirk

Rhodes Scholar, medical doctor, CEO, parliamentary advisor, writer and commentator – David Kirk’s curriculum vitae reads like no other New Zealand All Black.

Rhodes Scholar, medical doctor, CEO, parliamentary advisor, writer and commentator - David Kirk’s curriculum vitae reads like no other New Zealand All Black.

But while his multi-talents, intelligence and boyish good looks make Kirk a stand out New Zealander in many respects, it’s his contribution to Kiwi sporting history for which he’s best known.

David Kirk’s most memorable sporting moment was captaining the All Blacks to victory over France in the 1987 inaugural Rugby World Cup.

In the same year he was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for his services to rugby, marking a relatively short and somewhat controversial career in the national sport.

Urbane & articulate

David Edward Kirk was born in Wellington in 1960, and was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School. He graduated from Otago University with a medical degree, and always stood out in the world of rugby as "urbane, articulate and thoughtful".

Kirk played provincial rugby for Otago, as half-back and wing, his considerable pace making him a successful rugby sevens player.

He played with the New Zealand Colts, and first toured with the All Blacks in 1983.

Kirk moved to Auckland in 1985 and, under coach John Hart, became a regular provincial selection taking over the captaincy in 1986 when Andy Haden joined the Cavaliers - the unofficial rugby union team that toured South Africa.

Anti-apartheid stand
When David Kirk and John Kirwan took a stand against apartheid and refused to join the Cavaliers, there was resentment in many rugby circles that was exacerbated when the returning rebels were barred for the next two All Black tests, and Kirk became captain of the so-called Baby Blacks - the team of younger replacements.

Some of the bad feeling was overcome when Andy Dalton had to withdraw with an injury in 1987, and Kirk was made captain - leading New Zealand to victory over France in the Rugby World Cup final.

In all, Kirk played 17 tests for the All Blacks - 11 as captain - and scored 24 test points.

Early retirement & Rhodes Scholarship
Shortly after the World Cup triumph, Kirk led the All Blacks to a notable Bledisloe Cup win over the Wallabies in Sydney.

A hamstring injury plagued Kirk for much of the 1987 representative season and, at the age of 26, Kirk retired to take up a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University in England.

He obtained a degree in PPE (philosophy, politics and economics) before returning to New Zealand and becoming policy advisor to then Prime Minister Jim Bolger.

Kirk also worked as a management consultant and media commentator, and in 1993 and 1994 coached the Wellington NPC team.

Senior executive roles
From 2005 to 2008, David Kirk was chief executive of Fairfax Media - Australia’s largest publishing group, and stable of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review; and New Zealand’s Dominion Post and Christchurch Press.

Prior to the Fairfax position, Kirk had been chief executive of PMP - the largest magazine, commercial printing and media services company in Australia. He has also held senior roles at newsprint manufacturer Norske Skog, Fletcher Challenge, Hoyts Theatre Group and investment bank Forsyth Barr.

In June 2010 Kirk was listed amongst the "heavyweight investors" to join the trans-Pacific data cable company Pacific Fibre. He is on the Pacific Fibre board which has the challenge of connecting Australia, New Zealand and the US with a fibre cable delivering 5.12 terabits/sec of capacity by 2013.

Ambassador & author
David Kirk is president of the NZ Rugby Players Association, an honorary ambassador for the World Food Program, and is trustee of several charities.

He is also the author of two books Black and Blue and The Road to Cardiff (with co-author Graham Hutchins), and has been a regular contributor to newspapers around the world.

David Kirk is married with three sons, and lives in Sydney.

David Kirk has been appointed as an ambassador for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, along with fellow rugby greats Sean Fitzpatrick, John Kirwan, Jonah Lomu, Andrew Mehrtens and Michael Jones.

More information

Kiwi rugby star ambassadors for 2011 RWC

NZ All Black great: Andrew Mehrtens

NZ All Black great: John Kirwan

NZ All Black great: Jonah Lomu

NZ All Black great: Michael Jones

NZ All Black great: Sean Fitzpatrick