Former New Zealand rugby captain Tana Umaga has been honoured by Queen Elizabeth II.
He received the recognition a week after he reduced a team mate to tears by hitting him around the head with a handbag.
Umaga, who announced his retirement from the All Blacks in January, was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to rugby in Queen’s Elizabeth’s annual Birthday
Umaga said he and his family were very proud of the honour. “It’s come as a bit of a shock… it’s put a smile on my face,” Umaga was reported saying in the Dominion Post newspaper.
Umaga was in the news the week before for striking Hurricanes team mate Chris Masoe with a woman’s handbag in a Christchurch bar early on Sunday morning after Masoe had punched a
man. Masoe was reportedly in tears afterwards.
Owner Nicole Davies cashed in on the fame of her handbag, selling it in an Internet auction at the weekend for 22,800 NZ dollars.
Umaga played 74 Tests for the All Blacks, including 21 as captain, and still plays for the Hurricanes in the Super 14 competition.