Eddie Tonks, New Zealand rugby and IRB chairman, dead at 85

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Eddie Tonks, who chaired the New Zealand Rugby Union during the sport's transition from amateur to professional and was also chairman of the International Rugby Board, has died. He was 85.

His death was confirmed by New Zealand Rugby on Tuesday. A cause was not specified.

Tonks served on the council of the New Zealand union for more than a decade and was chairman from 1990 to 1995, as it faced the massive upheaval of a move to professionalism. The sports’ first professional competitions began in 1996.

Tonks was also a leading organizer of the inaugural Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 1987.

He later briefly chaired the IRB, which is now known as World Rugby.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said Tonks’ “record speaks for itself and he left the game in a better place than he found it.”

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