New Zealand’s Sean Fitzpatrick is one of the giants of international rugby holding the world record for playing in 63 consecutive Test matches and being the world’s most capped hooker. His extraordinary international career began with his debut for the All Blacks in 1986 against France. He was appointed captain of the All Blacks in 1992 and played in 121 international matches, including 92 Test matches, a New Zealand record. Fitzpatrick also holds the record for most Test matches as an All Black captain (51) and has played in more Test match victories (74) than any other player.
He led New Zealand to a series win over the touring British Lions in 1993 and also led the All Blacks to a clean sweep in the first Tri-Nations tournament in 1996. He became the first New Zealander to captain a Test series win in South Africa.
One of the most durable Rugby Union players of all time, Sean Fitzpatrick was also one of the very best. The abrasive hooker always led by example and commanded utmost respect on the field of play. He was well built for a hooker, standing 1.82 metres tall and weighing 233 pounds, but he was remarkably mobile and extremely skilful in both tight and loose play. Possessing excellent handling skills, he made a habit of popping up in the right place at the right time. He ended his career with an overall tally of 55 points in Test matches, including 12 tries and he was phenomenally accurate with his lineout throws.
Sean's father, Brian (BBJ) Fitzpatrick was an All Black 1951 – 1954, so Sean was brought up in the All Black tradition. After making his international debut for New Zealand on June 28, 1986, he took part in the inaugural World Cup in 1987 when he enjoyed one of his best-ever rugby moments as the All Blacks went on to win the tournament final in Auckland against France. Thereafter, he missed only two Test matches over the next decade. He took over the All Black captaincy in 1992 and went on to become the second most-capped New Zealand player of all time.
As the game of Rugby Union developed in the early 1990s, with its increasing emphasis on fitness and the eventual advent of professionalism, Fitzpatrick was very much in the forefront. Widely regarded as one of the best players in his position of all time, his legendary strength and mobility saw him shape the prototype of the modern rugby union hooker.
Probably the crowning moment of Fitzpatrick’s illustrious career came in 1996 when he inspirationally led New Zealand to a memorable test series triumph over South Africa - the first time that the All Blacks had ever won a series on South African soil. He played his 92nd and last international on November 29, 1997
He was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit by the Governor General in 1997. At the end of 1999, Fitzpatrick was named as hooker in Rugby World magazine’s Team of the Century. In March 1999 Sean was appointed as ‘Rugby Consultant’ to the NZRFU responsible for player development and liaison.