Christian Cullen

Christian Cullen

Christian Cullen
Cullen in Fiji
Full name Christian Mathias Cullen
Date of birth (1976-02-12) 12 February 1976
Place of birth Paraparaumu, New Zealand
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight 85 kg (13 st 5 lb)
School Kapiti College
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Centre, Fullback, Wing
New Zealand No. 952
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
Central Vikings
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
2003–06 Munster 44 (75)
correct as of 12 July 2014.
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)


correct as of 12 July 2014.
Super Rugby
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1996–2003 Hurricanes 85 (308)
Current local club retired
correct as of 12 July 2014.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1996–2003 New Zealand 58 (236)
correct as of 12 July 2014.
Sevens national teams
Years Club / team Comps
1995–96 New Zealand 5
Christian Cullen
Medal record
Competitor for  New Zealand
Men's rugby sevens
Commonwealth Games
Gold 1998 Kuala Lumpur Rugby 7's

Christian Mathias Cullen (born 12 February 1976 in Paraparaumu, New Zealand) is a former New Zealand rugby union footballer. He played most of his rugby at fullback for New Zealand (the All Blacks), for the Hurricanes in the Super 12, and for Manawatu, Wellington and later Munster at provincial level. He was nicknamed the Paekakariki Express. With 46 tries scored in 58 Tests, Cullen is the 8th-highest try-scorer in international rugby.


Cullen was born and grew up in Paekakariki, a small town north of Wellington. He is the youngest of three children. He has an elder twin brother named Shane and a sister named Anita. His rugby talent emerged in his high school years and he was selected in the New Zealand secondary schools team in 1993 and 1994.

He played senior rugby for Manawatu in 1995 and scored 70 points through 12 tries, two conversions and two penalty goals. He was selected to the New Zealand sevens squad for tournaments in Fiji and Hong Kong.

Cullen's provincial career started in 1996 season. He played in the first-ever Super 12 game, contested by the Hurricanes and the Blues. That year he scored seven tries in nine matches.

At the 1996 World Sevens competition in Hong Kong he scored 18 tries, including seven in one match.[1] Later that year he was selected as an All Black. He scored seven tries in his first two Test matches: a hat-trick on debut against Samoa and four tries against Scotland. He sustained a knee cartilage injury on the All Blacks' tour to South Africa. [2]

In 1997 Cullen returned from injury and scored 11 tries in 10 games for the Hurricanes, and 12 tries in 12 Test matches for the All Blacks.

The All Blacks had a poor year in 1998 with five consecutive losses, but Cullen scored four tries in seven matches. He represented New Zealand in rugby sevens at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, playing seven games, scoring nine tries and kicking 23 conversions. New Zealand won the tournament and the gold medal.

In 1999 Cullen was a member of New Zealand's unsuccessful Rugby World Cup squad. He played six matches in the Cup tournament, starting five at centre. In 2000 he scored 10 tries in 11 games for the Hurricanes and seven tries in four Tri Nations Tests, including three consecutive pairs.

In 2001 Cullen sustained a severe knee injury that required surgery and an intensive recovery programme. He made himself unavailable for the All Blacks' 2001 end-of-year tour, but was announced ‘dropped’ by coach John Mitchell at a NZRU press conference.[2] Cullen and Mitchell's personal differences went unresolved over time. Cullen was selected to and dropped from the All Blacks squad throughout 2002. He scored four tries in the five Test matches that year.

In the 2003 Super season Cullen scored eight tries in 12 games for the Hurricanes, taking his Super Rugby career tally to 56, a record at the time.[3] He was briefly and controversially selected for the Māori rugby team, despite having, according to his father, about 1/64th Māori ancestry.[4]He was left out of New Zealand's 2003 World Cup squad. He played out the NPC season for Wellington and received a standing ovation after the Championship final, despite Wellington's losing to Auckland.

At the end of 2003 Cullen moved to Ireland, where he played for Munster. His time with Munster was blighted by injuries, particularly to his shoulder, limiting his appearances. His last match for Munster was a 15–7 Magners League win over the Newport Gwent Dragons at Musgrave Park on 28 April 2007. Two weeks later, on 12 May, he announced his retirement from rugby and stated his intention of returning to New Zealand to start a business.[5]


Cullen is the All Blacks' all-time leading try-scorer in the Tri Nations Series, with 16. He was the first player to score a try in every Tri Nations Test in one season. He is New Zealand's second most-capped Test fullback. At the time of his retirement he was the All Blacks' leading try-scorer with 46; that record has since been reset by Doug Howlett. He scored over 150 tries while playing in New Zealand. He is the third-highest try-scorer in Super Rugby with 56 tries, behind Joe Roff and Howlett.


His biography, Christian Cullen: Life on the Run (by John Matheson) was released in October 2003. The book received attention particularly for Cullen's criticism of John Mitchell.


Cullen is of mainly Irish descent. He also has German and Samoan ancestry and claims 1/64th Māori heritage.


  1. ^ Becht, R. (1997). Christian Cullen ‘Awesome’. Auckland, New Zealand: Hodder Moa Beckett Publishers Ltd,. p. 14. 
  2. ^ a b Matheson, J. (2003). Christian Cullen – ‘Life on the run.’. Auckland, New Zealand: Hodder Moa Beckett Publishers Ltd. pp. 66, 127, 133, 147, 192. 
  3. ^ "All Time Super Rugby Records". Sports Digital 20 February 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  4. ^ "Uncovering the Maori mystery". BBC Sport. 5 June 2003. 
  5. ^ "Cullen decides to end his career". BBC Sport. 12 May 2007. 

External links

  • Christian Cullen at
  • Christian Cullen at theSportsWriter
  • Munster profile
  • profile