The New Zealand Rugby League mourns the passing of Richard Bolton, a player, coach, manager and administrator who left an indelible mark on on rugby league in New Zealand.

Born on June 4, 1943, Bolton carved out a strong career as a loose forward, representing Auckland and Mount Albert clubs. His playing highlight was undoubtedly his selection for the 1972 tour of Australia, where he earned his sole New Zealand Test cap as Kiwi #499. Despite missing out on World Cup selection that year, Bolton contributed significantly to Māori Rugby League. He represented them as a player in 1972 and later captained the side to victory in the inaugural Pacific Cup in 1986. He repeated this feat in 1988 and served as a trainer for the Māori team in 1990.

Bolton’s leadership extended beyond the playing field. He served on the NZMRL board and coached Waikato from 1987 to 88. His dedication to the sport’s development shone through his roles as manager of the Howie Tamati-coached Kiwis from 1992 to 93 and the 2005 Junior Kiwis. Notably, he was pivotal in establishing the National Secondary Schools competition while serving as the NZRL’s National Development Officer.

Bolton’s commitment to Auckland Rugby League as deputy chairman further cemented his legacy as a tireless administrator. In 2013, he was awarded an NZRL Life Membership, a fitting tribute to his lifelong service to the game.

The New Zealand Rugby League extends its deepest condolences to Richard Bolton’s family and friends. He will be remembered as a versatile player, a leader, and a passionate contributor who helped shape the sport not only on the field but also from the sidelines.

Richard Bolton, former New Zealand rugby league player and coach. 1995. Copyright photo: