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Doug Howlett – Rugby Union – New Zealand

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Are you a rugby fan looking for insights into the career of Doug Howlett, the legendary New Zealand rugby union player? Born in Auckland on September 21, 1978, Howlett had an illustrious career that has left a lasting impact on the sport. In this blog, we will explore his early life, playing career, international success, personal life, and legacy and achievements. Get ready to dive into the world of one of New Zealand’s greatest rugby players!

Key Takeaways

  • Doug Howlett began his rugby career with Auckland at the age of 18 and later played for the Highlanders, Hurricanes, and Blues in Super Rugby.
  • He achieved international acclaim as an All Black, earning 62 caps and holding a record as one of New Zealand’s top try scorers.
  • As captain of the Barbarians, he demonstrated leadership skills combined with his exceptional pace and finishing ability on the field.
  • After retiring from playing in 2013, Howlett made significant contributions off – field as Munster Rugby‘s Head of Commercial and Marketing.
  • His legacy includes numerous trophies and accolades such as New Zealand Player of the Year and being part of the World Rugby Team of the Decade.

Overview of Doug Howlett’s career in rugby union

Doug Howlett stamped his mark on rugby union as one of the most electrifying wingers to play the game. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, his career took off when he debuted for Auckland at just 18 years old.

His prowess on the field quickly escalated him through the ranks, seeing him don the jerseys of Super Rugby giants: Highlanders, Hurricanes and Blues. Renowned for his speed and ability to finish plays, Howlett’s talents caught the eyes of international selectors.

Securing a coveted spot with the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national team, Howlett amassed 62 caps and scored tries that etched his name into rugby history books. Offshore ventures broadened his horizons; Munster in Ireland benefited from his experience until he hung up his boots in 2013.

Through a blend of raw talent and strategic playmaking abilities across multiple territories – encompassing domestic leagues and international arenas – Doug Howlett’s illustrious career set standards that upcoming kiwi players aspire to reach.

Early Life

Doug Howlett, born and raised in Auckland, showed promise as a rugby player from a young age. His natural talent and dedication to the sport set the stage for his impressive career in rugby union.

Howlett’s childhood and upbringing

Growing up in Auckland, New Zealand, Howlett showed an early passion for rugby. From a young age, he carried a ball with him wherever he went, his sights set on one day playing for the prestigious All Blacks.

His family supported his sporting ambitions, cheering from the sidelines as he sprinted down local fields honing his signature speed. School days were punctuated by rugby practice and matches; this is where Doug developed his sharp eye for scoring tries that would later make him famous.

During high school at Mount Albert Grammar, Howlett’s talent truly began to shine. He played not only in top-tier school competitions but also represented Auckland at under-19 level competitions with exceptional skill.

The dedication to his sport was evident — training sessions before sunrise and rigorous fitness regimes became part of his routine. This strong foundation laid during Howlett’s developmental years paved the way for an illustrious career that would see him become one of rugby union’s most celebrated fullbacks and try scorers.

Playing Career

– Debuting for Auckland at just 18 years old, Doug Howlett quickly made a name for himself in the world of rugby union. From there, he went on to play for three Super Rugby teams, showcasing his skills and speed on the field.

Debut for Auckland at 18 years old

At 18 years old, Doug Howlett made his debut for Auckland, marking the beginning of a remarkable rugby career. His exceptional talent and dedication had already caught the attention of rugby enthusiasts, setting the stage for his future accomplishments.

This pivotal moment marked the start of an illustrious journey that would eventually see him become a celebrated figure in New Zealand rugby history.

Transitioning from amateur to professional at such a young age was testament to Howlett’s natural ability and relentless work ethic. It also laid the foundation for what would be an impressive and enduring presence in both domestic and international rugby union.

Played for three Super Rugby teams

After his debut for Auckland at 18 years old, Doug Howlett went on to play for three different Super Rugby teams throughout his career. He began with the Highlanders, showcasing his skills and speed on the field.

Later, he joined the Hurricanes before ultimately finding success with the Blues. Howlett’s time with these teams allowed him to leave a lasting impact on New Zealand rugby while demonstrating his versatility and adaptability as a player.

His tenure with multiple Super Rugby teams not only honed his abilities but also contributed significantly to the growth and success of each team.

International Success

Doug Howlett’s international success includes achieving 62 caps for the All Blacks, captaining the Barbarians and earning a reputation as a legendary finisher with incredible pace on the rugby field.

62 caps for the All Blacks

Doug Howlett represented the All Blacks in a total of 62 matches throughout his illustrious career. His exceptional speed and finishing ability on the wing solidified his position as one of New Zealand’s most prolific try-scorers.

With this impressive record, Howlett showcased his consistency and impact at the international level, contributing significantly to the success of the team.

Moreover, Howlett’s 62 caps demonstrate his longevity and dedication to representing New Zealand on the rugby field. His presence in the lineup provided a consistent threat to opposition defences while also inspiring fans with his remarkable performances.

Captain of the Barbarians

As the Captain of the Barbarians, Doug Howlett showcased his leadership skills and exceptional rugby talents. He led by example on the field and inspired his teammates with his determination and commitment.

Howlett’s tenure as captain further solidified his status as a respected figure in the international rugby community, earning him admiration from fans and players alike.

Under Howlett’s leadership, the Barbarians experienced success on numerous occasions, leaving a lasting legacy in the history of the team. His ability to bring out the best in his fellow players was evident during his time as captain, contributing significantly to both individual and team accomplishments.

Legendary finisher and pace

Doug Howlett was celebrated for his extraordinary finishing abilities and blistering pace on the rugby field. His remarkable agility and acceleration allowed him to outmaneuver opponents, making him a lethal force in scoring tries.

Howlett’s legendary capabilities as a finisher were evident in his consistent scoring record throughout his career with the All Blacks and various club teams. His ability to swiftly exploit gaps in the opposition defence made him an invaluable asset, cementing his reputation as one of the greatest try-scorers in New Zealand rugby history.

Howlett’s exceptional speed and finishing prowess earned him widespread recognition, as he consistently showcased unparalleled skill in finding the try line. This combination of speed and clinical finishing powered Howlett to numerous accolades and trophies, establishing himself as a pivotal figure in the world of rugby union.

Personal Life

After retiring from professional rugby in 2013, Doug Howlett took on the role of Head of Commercial and Marketing for Munster Rugby. He continues to be involved in the sport at a managerial level, leveraging his experience and expertise to contribute to the growth and development of the game.

Retired in 2013

In 2013, Doug Howlett bid farewell to his illustrious career in rugby union. His retirement marked the end of an era for one of New Zealand’s most celebrated players. After a remarkable journey that spanned over two decades, Howlett left a lasting legacy on the sport.

His final years were spent as the Head of Commercial and Marketing for Munster Rugby, where he continued to contribute to the game off the field.

During his playing days, Howlett’s impact transcended borders as he represented both New Zealand and Ireland at the highest levels. Despite retiring from active competition, his influence on rugby union remains indelible, inspiring future generations of athletes around the world.

Head of Commercial and Marketing for Munster Rugby

Doug Howlett transitioned into a successful post-rugby career as the Head of Commercial and Marketing for Munster Rugby. In this role, he leverages his extensive experience in the sport to develop and implement strategic marketing initiatives, cultivating partnerships and driving revenue growth for the prestigious club.

His leadership has been instrumental in elevating Munster Rugby’s brand presence both locally and internationally.

Howlett’s profound understanding of rugby’s commercial landscape coupled with his innate passion for the game makes him an invaluable asset to Munster Rugby. By spearheading innovative marketing campaigns and forging key alliances, he continues to uphold the club’s legacy while propelling it towards sustained success on and off the field.

Legacy and Achievements

Doug Howlett’s legacy in rugby union is one of incredible achievement and impact on the game. With multiple trophies and accolades to his name, he has left a lasting mark on the sport and inspired future generations of players.

Multiple trophies and accolades

During his illustrious rugby career, Doug Howlett amassed multiple trophies and accolades, solidifying his status as one of New Zealand’s finest. His standout performances earned him the title of the top try scorer in Super Rugby history, a remarkable feat that showcased his scoring prowess and on-field impact.

Additionally, Howlett’s exceptional speed and finishing ability led to numerous accolades, including being named New Zealand Player of the Year and securing a spot in the World Rugby Team of the Decade alongside legendary players like Dan Carter and Richie McCaw.

His impressive achievements underline his lasting legacy in the world of rugby union.

His decorated career was highlighted by significant milestones such as leading the All Blacks to their first series win against England in 30 years and playing a pivotal role in Munster’s historic victory over Toulouse in 2008 Heineken Cup final.

Impact on the game of rugby union

Doug Howlett revolutionised the game of rugby union with his electrifying speed and exceptional finishing skills. His ability to change the momentum of a match through his quick bursts and clinical try-scoring made him an iconic figure in the sport.

Howlett’s impact on the game extended beyond just scoring tries; he set a new standard for wingers, showcasing how they could become influential playmakers on the field. With his remarkable versatility and relentless determination, Howlett inspired future generations of players to push their boundaries and redefine their positions within the game.

Howlett’s influence on rugby union transcended borders, leaving an indelible mark on both national and international levels. His legacy continues to shape modern strategies and playing styles, as teams aspire to cultivate players who embody his dynamic skill set.


In conclusion, Doug Howlett’s impact on rugby union is undeniable. He achieved 62 caps for the All Blacks and displayed exceptional finishing and pace throughout his career. His versatility on the field also contributed to his success, playing both as a winger and occasionally as a fullback.

Howlett’s legacy continues to inspire rugby fans around the world, solidifying his place in the annals of New Zealand rugby history.


1. Who is Doug Howlett in New Zealand rugby?

Doug Howlett is a former professional rugby player from New Zealand, known for playing with the All Blacks Sevens and in the Rugby World Cup.

2. What position did Doug Howlett play?

Doug Howlett was a wing, which means he played on the side of the rugby field and was known for his speed and scoring tries.

3. Did Doug Howlett win any championships with New Zealand?

Yes, throughout his career, Doug Howlett won several titles and even participated in winning campaigns at the Rugby World Cup with New Zealand’s team.

4. Is Doug Howlett still involved with rugby after retiring as a player?

After retiring from playing, Doug has been involved in various roles within rugby but focuses more on business interests outside of sport now.

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