Saturday December 13, 2008
Rugged All Blacks forward John Drake, a member of the New Zealand team that won the 1987 World Cup, died on Saturday in Mt Maunganui at the age of 49. A family friend at his residence confirmed Drake's death to reporters on Saturday night but declined to give any details or comment on a report that the former footballer turned television commentator had collapsed and died at the side of his swimming pool.
Drake, a tight-head prop represented New Zealand between 1985 and 1987 and played 12 matches including eight tests. He was a key member of the World Cup-winning squad, playing in five of the six matches.
Born on January 22, 1959, he was educated at Auckland Grammar School, but played his first club rugby in Dunedin and turned out for Otago Juniors. When he returned to Auckland, Drake played for the under-23 and B provincial teams before becoming a regular member of the senior side. He went to France where he played three seasons and it was during the third, 1985-86, that he was recalled to join the All Blacks touring Argentina.
Returning to Auckland in 1986, he regained his place in the Auckland team and was selected for the All Blacks' tour of France where he played at tighthead in both tests. He retired at the end of 1987 at the conclusion of the World Cup season. In recent years he was a highly respected television commentator and newspaper columnist.
He is survived by his wife Cathy and three daughters.