Major teams: Auckland, Wasps
Country: New Zealand
Test span: 1993-2000
New Zealand caps: 60 (50 starts)
Test points: 10 (2T)
Props rarely get much glory but if they did, Craig Dowd would be among the most lauded of all because he was one of the foundation stones upon which the great All Blacks team of the 1990s was built, and won a hatful of domestic trophies in both hemispheres to boot.
Dowd was one of that rare breed of props who was capable of playing at the highest level on either side of the scrum. A 6ft 3in, 18st-plus giant of a man, he won many of his 60 caps with a No 1 on his back, but switched across to the tighthead after Olo Brown retired in August 1998 and started at No 3 four times during the 1999 World Cup.
Brown is best remembered as part of New Zealand’s all-Auckland front row, playing 34 Tests alongside Sean Ftizpatrick and Brown. England’s Jason Leonard says they were the toughest front row he ever faced and their strength and skill enabled stars like Jonah Lomu, Jeff Wilson, Christian Cullen and Frank Bunce to shine in the back division.
Lock Ian Jones, a long-time All Blacks team-mate, remembers the contribution Dowd made to the squad’s winning environment in the 1990s, saying: “Guys like Craig Dowd and Sean Fitzpatrick were fiercely competitive and never let our standards drop.”
Born in Auckland in 1969, Dowd rose through the ranks of college and club rugby and made his Auckland debut in 1991. He racked up 83 appearances for the province across a decade, winning the Ranfurly Shield in 1995 and 1996 and the Super 12 title with the Blues in 1996 and 1997.
After his Test career ended, he started a new phase of his career in London with Wasps in 2001, playing more than 100 times for them until his retirement in 2005 and adding yet more winner’s medals to his collection as they lifted the Premiership trophy in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Since hanging up his boots, Dowd has had coaching roles with Wasps and North Harbour, done media work and co-founded the sports strapping company d3 Tape in New Zealand in 2010.
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