‘He loved his rugby – a massive influence on me and a big supporter’ - Sean Lineen’s tribute to dad Terry

Scotland Grand Slam hero Sean Lineen has paid a warm and emotional tribute to his former All Black father, Terry, who died this week at the age of 84.

Sean Lineen, left, with sons Cameron and Jacob, and father Terry. Picture: Rob Smith

Lineen snr played 12 Tests for New Zealand between 1956 and 1960 but, in total including tour matches, wore the Silver Fern on 35 occasions.

His son, who was the original “kilted Kiwi”, represented Scotland 29 times between 1989 and 1992 after qualifying through his maternal grandfather, Jock Macdonald, from the Isle of Lewis.

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“Massive,” said the 58-year-old former Glasgow Warriors and current Scotland Under-20s coach when asked about the impact his former centre father had on his life and rugby career.

“One of the papers said he was called the rock star of the fifties. He loved his rugby – a massive influence on me and a big supporter.

“I think I was quite wild when I was young and he had his hands full with me through my teens and so on. He challenged me when he needed to and he was a big supporter as well. Really passionate man – loved his sport, loved my wife [Lynne] and my two boys [Cameron and Jacob who have continued the family rugby tradition] and was really 
passionate about them, he was just a great man.”

Terry Lineen’s rugby career was impressive but short as he was forced to retire at the age of 24, four years after his All Blacks debut, as he badly injured his shoulder playing the Springboks in Bloemfontein.

“A good guy, good fun, good humour – he had as many friends over here [in Scotland] as he had back in New Zealand,” continued Lineen, who was part of the Scotland team who won the Grand Slam 30 years ago in that unforgettable 13-7 win over England at 

“The e-mails and texts I’ve had from 
JJ [John Jeffrey], Gav and Scott [Hastings] – who met him for a few beers down the years – that meant a lot. He got a new set of teeth and he met Princess Anne when he was last over here, so he did okay.”

A proud Kiwi and All Black to his core, Lineen’s father took great pride in his son’s Test career in the dark blue of 

“I remember in 1990, him and mum followed us everywhere around on the tour to New Zealand [which famously saw the Grand Slam winners come so close to a first-ever win over the All Blacks as they lost 21-18 in the Lineens’ home city Auckland.]

“They came over for the World Cup in 1991. They were over half a dozen times. Mum died in 2014, and he came over for the World Cup in England the next year, so he had a pretty full life.

“But he wasn’t well. He hadn’t been well for a while, but it still came as a bit of a shock. The amount of messages have been unbelievable. The funeral is next week at the Marist Rugby Club [Auckland]. They’re having a guard of honour for him, so it will be fantastic.”

Lineen will take charge of the Scotland Under-20s game against Italy in Calvisano on 
Friday before flying back to New Zealand on Monday.

“He became an All Black when he was 20 and had to retire when he was 24 because of a dislocated shoulder in South Africa,” said Lineen. “He was a good All Black – a great All Black – named in a lot of World XVs – top try scorer on every tour he went on.

“And we used to have some great parties at the house in the mid-60s, when I was a five or six-year-old and all these All Black legends were there – Wilson Whineray, Colin Meads, Waka Nathan all around the house listening to Neil Diamond. That’s why I am a big fan of Neil Diamond – because of dad.”

Lineen’s father’s death comes in the 30th anniversary year of the defining moment of his career as part of that Grand Slam win.

“I keep forgetting until people remind me,” said the former Boroughmuir inside centre when asked if he can believe 30 years have passed since that famous day.

“It’s great – it was a big part of my life and making friends for life. We’ll have a couple of good parties organised in May, with the ’84 lot [at a charity dinner in Edinburgh being organised by Lineen’s Slam team-mate, ex-wing Iwan Tukalo] and then we’re going to London as well.

“It was a group of players coming together. You need five or six 
world-class players to make a truly good team and we had that with JJ, Fin, Gav, Scott, David Sole and Gary Armstrong – truly world-class players.

“I think just about all of us were leaders, not afraid to talk, and most of us listened as well – but we certainly weren’t afraid to speak our mind, which is important.

“That is something we most probably need to go back to at the moment, because it is a different era and, God, it is tough for young players nowadays. There’s so much going on, so much pressure to 
perform and lift weights and education.

“I take my hat off to them, there is a lot of stuff going on, and there is a cracking group of youngsters here that really want to do well for Scotland.”

After encouraging showings in narrow losses to Ireland and England so far, the Under-20s will be hoping to register a first win of the campaign against the young Italians on Friday.

“You can see it, they are desperate to do well,” said Lineen.

“It would be good to get the weekend off to a positive start with a win on 
Friday night.”