Bruce Dickinson Honored By NZ Rugby Team

Iron Maiden frontman and rugby fan Bruce Dickinson admitted to having “a bit of a fantasy moment” at the band’s two shows in New Zealand.

As part of his costume changes at Christchurch’s  April 29 and Auckland’s  May 1, he proudly sported a personalised jersey gifted to him by the country’s All Blacks men’s national rugby union team.

“I’m a rugby fan,” he told the cheering Christchurch crowd. “And for me, rugby and metal and everything, it’s a little bit similar. We don’t give a shit. It’s all about the game. Metal, it’s all about the music.”

The night before the Auckland show, the band attended a match at Eden Park, watching the Auckland Blues beat Melbourne’s Rebels 36-30. He endeared himself to the sold-out Vector Arena crowd, saying that their team always seems to “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

After pulling on his jersey again during the encore, he revealed the AB team had been invited backstage. Before the NZ tour, the British band released an All Blacks tribute T-shirt as part of its merchandise range as a tribute to the team’s Rugby World Cup victory last year. It featured Iron Maiden mascot Eddie in black rugby gear and sweatbands, holding a ball under his arm.

Maiden manager Rod Smallwood, also a rugby fanatic, attended the World Cup finals in New Zealand in 2011 and London in 2015 to catch the All Blacks, according to local media. 

“So the idea for the shirt for this tour is based on admiration and respect for an incredible sporting organisation,” he said.

During their 2011 visit, a tribute T-shirt to All Blacks legend Colin Meads was such a hit with New Zealand’s rugby fraternity that team coach – a friend of Smallwood and a Maiden fan – asked to use the image on some of the team’s own T-shirts which it gave as prizes for best players during the 2015 World Cup matches.

Iron Maiden’s latest The Book of Souls album debuted at No. 2 on the New Zealand charts.