Keven Mealamu (born 20 March 1979 in Tokoroa, Waikato, New Zealand) is a New Zealand rugby union footballer. He plays at hooker for the Blues in Super Rugby, Auckland in the National Provincial Championship, and the New Zealand national team, All Blacks. In a Bledisloe Cup test match against Australia on 20 October 2012, Mealamu became the third All Black to reach 100 test appearances.
He is a former student of Aorere College, where his brother and former Manu Samoa player Luke Mealamu currently works as a social worker. He played as a flanker for New Zealand Under-16s and New Zealand Schools before switching to hooker in 1998.
Professional Career and the All Blacks
He made his debut for the All Blacks on 23 November 2002, against Wales at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Mealamu's provincial rugby debut was for Auckland in 1999. He first played for the Blues in 2000, but had a stint with the Chiefs in 2002 – the same year he debuted for the All Blacks. Mealamu also made a fine contribution to the start of the All Blacks' 2006 Tri Nations campaign with two tries against the Wallabies during the first match. Mealamu captained the Blues through their 2006 Super 14 campaign, but was forced to relinquish the captaincy in 2007 due to his commitments to the All Blacks. Mealamu was made test captain in the test match against Scotland during the All Blacks 2008 Grand Slam tour, as regular captain Richie McCaw was a reserve for that match. He was a part of New Zealand's 2011 Rugby World Cup winning squad. In 2014, he made his 150th appearance for the Blues, becoming the first player in Super Rugby history to make 150 appearances for one team.
Mealamu and All Blacks captain at the time, Tana Umaga, were involved in an incident in the first test of the Lions tour to New Zealand on 25 June 2005. In the first minute of the Test, Mealamu and Umaga combined to upend Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll in a controversial post-ruck clean-out. The clean-out resulted in O'Driscoll dislocating his shoulder, necessitating surgery and causing him to miss the rest of the tour. O'Driscoll and Lions management characterized the incident as a "deliberate spear tackle". The independent citing commissioner found that neither Mealamu nor Umaga had a case to answer at the time due to inconclusive evidence, but after viewing new amateur footage of the incident, Greg Thomas, communications manager for the sport's governing body, the International Rugby Board (IRB), described the tackle as "unacceptably dangerous" and stated that IRB was instructing referees to suspend players for three to six months for such offenses. After the controversy, Mealamu's reputation was reinforced by his exceptional play during New Zealand's triumphant 2005 Tri Nations campaign in which he scored the key winning try and bonus point against the Springboks in Dunedin. He also scored a match-winning try against England later that year in Twickenham on 19 November.
Following a test match against England at Twickenham on 6 November 2010, Mealamu was cited by the independent citing commissioner (John West, Ireland) for headbutting Lewis Moody. He was found guilty by Professor Lorne Crerar and given a 4 week ban. On appeal this was reduced to two weeks. The appeal panel (Peter Ingwersen of South Africa, Robert Williams of Wales and Jean Noel Couraud of France) issued a statement saying "Although [we] upheld the original decision that there had been an act of foul play, having had the opportunity to review the video footage, [we] concluded that the act was not intentional and that it merited a lower-end entry point in the IRB list of sanctions, namely four weeks. In view of the compelling mitigating factors and the absence of aggravating factors, this was reduced to two weeks."
^ Knowler, Richard (2012-10-18). "Keven Mealamu to start for 100th milestone". Stuff. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
^ "Henry defends duo over O'Driscoll". BBC Sport. 28 June 2005. Retrieved 2006-11-14.
^ Orlovac, Mark and Jim Stokes (25 October 2005). "No action on new O'Driscoll video". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2006-11-14.
^ "NZ want O'Driscoll injury laid to rest". Independent Online. 26 October 2005. Retrieved 2006-04-01.
^ "All Blacks hooker Mealamu cited after England game". BBC Sport. 7 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-08.