Former Napier Technical division three rugby player and Greytown's ``$36 million dollar man'' Rob Guildford was farewelled in style yesterday.
More than 600 mourners attended the tangi for Mr Guildford at Greytown's Papawai Marae. All Blacks Piri Weepu, Ma'a Nonu and Neemia Tialata, Hurricanes captain Rodney So'oialo, Junior All Blacks Hika Elliot and Israel Dagg, numerous members of the world title-winning New Zealand Under-20 rugby side and their families along with a busload of Tech clubmates were among them.
Mr Guildford died of a heart attack shortly after watching his son, Hurricanes and Kelt Capital Magpies winger Zac Guildford, score two tries as New Zealand beat England 44-28 in the Under-20 World Cup final in Tokyo on June 21. He was 44.
A former Wairarapa Bush representative and Greytown club player, Mr Guildford moved to Napier with his family 12 years ago.
He played for the Tech thirds until a knee injury forced him to hang up his boots last year.
He worked in the electrical industry for Gooder Construction. Mr Guildford was described as ``a real family man who was committed to his children's sporting pursuits''.
His younger son, Victor plays for the Napier Technical premiers. Numerous former Napier Boys' High School team-mates and teachers of both of Mr Guildford's sons attended the tangi.
One of his mates made the comparison between the Masterton family which won $36 million in the Big Wednesday Lotto last week and Mr Guildford.
``Masterton had their $36 million Lotto winners and here in Greytown we had our $36 million man in Rob Guildford.''
Mourners heard about Mr Guildford's passion for rugby. He won the Wairarapa Bush player-of-the-year award during one season and played 39 games for the province.
At his wedding he had a broken leg collected in a game. He was a ``rugby, racing and beer'' bloke.
As one of his mates told the service: ``Most of us are lucky enough to be involved in one of those three things ... Rob had friends from all three.''
Mr Guildford is survived by his wife, Deb, and sons, Zac and Victor.