Vale Bill Snowden

Vale Bill Snowden

Born 2 January 1935. Passed Away 4 June 2016. William Leonard Snowden was born in Auckland and attended Auckland Grammar School. 

When he wasn’t allowed to wear the only pair of football boots he owned to play rugby union for the school, he took up Rugby League with the old City Rovers club. 

At age 16, he moved to Ponsonby and was playing first grade the next year. 

He began his representative career when he was selected for Auckland’s 1958 South Island tour. He was again selected for Auckland in 1959 and toured Australia with the Kiwis the same year. This was a strong New Zealand side and they were unbeaten in their 13 minor games, but went down in two of the three Tests. 

Bill played in eight of the 13 games, scoring six tries. He played the first of his 19 Tests at Auckland’s Carlaw Park on 8 July 1961 in the 10-8 loss to Australia. 

He was made New Zealand vice-captain in 1962 and then captained the Kiwis in both home Tests with Australia in 1965. The Australia won the first, 13-8, but New Zealand drew the series with their 7-5 victory in the second Test. 

Later that same year, he became the first Maori to captain New Zealand on a full tour to England and France. Altogether, Bill played 57 games for New Zealand, including his 19 Tests. He also played several international matches for New Zealand Maori.

Bill retired at the end of the 1966 season and in 1967 he coached Auckland University in a minor grade competition. 

Around 1968, Bill and a couple of mated came to Sydney, where he tried to play with the Eastern Suburbs Roosters but could not obtain a clearance from New Zealand. He then changed his name and joined the Bondi United club for two seasons, in the Eastern Suburbs A grade competition. When Jack Gibson coached the star-studded Eastern Suburbs team to the 1974 and 1975 Sydney Premierships, Bill was the chairman of selectors in both seasons. 

He and his wife lived at Sylvania in Sydney’s south, for about 40 years. His wife passed away a couple of years before him and for the last year or so of his life, Bill had some health problems. Because of this he moved into a nursing home at Illawong, where he passed away, aged 81.

Bill is survived by his daughter, Melissa and two grandsons.

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