The former All Black has enjoyed a decorated coaching career

Who is Wayne Smith: Ten things you should know about the New Zealand coach

Wayne Smith is an iconic figure of New Zealand rugby, both as a player and a coach.

The man nicknamed ‘The Professor’ – he is regarded as one of the sport’s greatest minds – took charge of the Black Ferns in early 2022, just six months before the start of their Rugby World Cup title defence.

Ten things you should know about Wayne Smith

1. Wayne Ross Smith was born on 19 April 1957 in Putaruru, a small town in Waikato on New Zealand’s North Island. After struggling to break into his local regional side, he moved to the South Island and made the Canterbury team.

2. A dangerous ball-carrier from fly-half, he played 17 Tests for New Zealand between 1980 and 1985, and won the National Provincial Championship with Canterbury in 1983.

Wayne Smith playing for New Zealand

Smith played 17 Tests for New Zealand (Getty Images)

3. Smith graduated from the University of Waikato in 1979 with a Bachelor of Social Sciences.

4. He spent most of his final playing years in Italian club rugby, where he also started coaching.

5. Smith took over as coach of the Crusaders in 1997. They won their first two Super Rugby titles in 1998 and 1999 under his guidance, beginning the Christchurch franchise’s domination of the competition.

Related: Wayne Smith interviewed by Giselle Mather

6. His work at the Crusaders saw him appointed New Zealand coach after the 1999 World Cup, but he stepped down in 2001 after consecutive Bledisloe Cup series defeats to Australia.

7. Smith took charge of English Premiership club Northampton Saints after leaving the All Blacks but returned to coach his national side in 2004, this time as an assistant.

He helped New Zealand win their first World Cup in 24 years in 2011, playing a crucial role amongst the coaching staff.

8. Smith went back to Super Rugby in 2012 as an assistant coach for the Chiefs, who won the title in his first season. He then returned to his assistant role with the All Blacks in time to help them successfully defend their World Cup title in 2015.

Wayne Smith World Cup

Smith (front left) has won two men’s World Cups as a coach (Getty Images)

9. He has also coached in Japan, guiding the Kobelco Steelers to the Top League title in 2019.

10. Smith was announced as the New Zealand Women’s director of rugby in April 2022, following Glenn Moore’s resignation as head coach amid bad results and criticisms of the team culture.

Smith was tasked with leading the Black Ferns’ World Cup defence on home soil later that year. He told Rugby World of his new role: “I was caught in a landslide, but I’ve ended up on a goldmine.”

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