Sir Whineray had been in hospital for over a month, and was surrounded by his family when he passed away this morning (New Zealand).

Mike Eagle, the Rugby Union chairman spoke to the press: “We have lost one of New Zealand’s great heroes and for the rugby community we have lost a much-loved patron and champion of rugby,” reported the New Zealand Herald.

Wilson was known as not only a sporting enthusiast but a contributor to the community and charity projects.

“We extend our condolences to Lady Elisabeth and to their family as they remember a much-loved husband, a father and a grandfather,” continued Eagle.

Whineray was the patron of the NZ Rugby Union, he died with a wife, two daughters and five grandchildren.

Prime Minister John Key has also paid tribute to the late national hero: “Sir Wilson was a great All Black and may have been the greatest captain we ever had,” explained Key.

“It is fitting that the only biography of Sir Wilson was titled `A Perfect Gentleman’. He was the rare breed of man whose modesty and humility gave no hint of the greatness he had achieved.

“I knew Sir Wilson and respected him immensely. This is a loss all of New Zealand will feel.”

Picture: Getty