Doug Howlett
Howlett in Dublin, Ireland, 2015
Full nameDouglas Charles Howlett
Date of birth (1978-09-21) 21 September 1978 (age 45)
Place of birthAuckland, New Zealand
Height185 cm (6 ft 1 in)
Weight93 kg (205 lb; 14 st 9 lb)
SchoolAuckland Grammar School
Rugby union career
Position(s) Wing, Fullback
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1996–2007 Auckland 55 (245)
1997 Highlanders 2 (15)
1998 Hurricanes 5 (5)
1999–2007 Blues 97 (275)
2008–2013 Munster 112 (175)
Correct as of 22 June 2019
International career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1997–1999 New Zealand U21 13 (70)
2000–2007 New Zealand 63 (245)
Correct as of 22 June 2019

Douglas Charles Howlett (born 21 September 1978) is a retired New Zealand professional rugby union player. He was primarily a wing, but he also sometimes played as a fullback.

He played for Auckland, and the Highlanders, Hurricanes and Blues in Super Rugby. He finished his career with Munster in Ireland.

With 49 tries in 62 tests, Howlett is currently the seventh-highest try scorer in rugby union history and the top try scorer for New Zealand.

Early life

Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Howlett attended May Road School and Mt Roskill Intermediate School. Howlett is of Tongan descent, with roots in the small coastal village of Kolonga.[citation needed] He started playing rugby at Auckland Grammar School,[1] where he was also a star sprinter, captain of athletics and, during his final year in 1996, Head Prefect. He calls upon his speed as a sprinter (he once clocked a personal best 10.94 seconds for the 100 metres in an under 20 athletics championship in 1998) to great effect in his rugby career.[citation needed]

Playing career

Howlett made his first-class debut at the age of 18 for Auckland in the Air New Zealand Cup. He has played with three Super Rugby teams, briefly with the Otago Highlanders and Wellington Hurricanes and, for the majority of his career in his home city, the Auckland Blues. It was with his hometown Blues that he established himself as one of the finest back players in the world,[citation needed] winning a Super 12 title in 2003. Throughout his domestic career, he remained affiliated with Auckland in the Air New Zealand Cup, with more than 50 appearances for the union.


In May 2009, Howlett was named in the Barbarians squad to play England and Australia.[2]


On 30 August 2007, Howlett signed for Munster, following in the footsteps of another All Black great, Christian Cullen. Howlett joined Munster at the start of 2008. He made his debut for Munster in the Heineken Cup against ASM Clermont Auvergne, notably starting the movement for Lifeimi Mafi's try. His second match came against London Wasps where he notably dived to save the ball in the build-up to Denis Leamy's try. He scored his first Munster try against Ulster on 22 March 2008.

On 24 May 2008, Howlett was part of the Munster team that beat Toulouse 16–13 to win the 2007–08 Heineken Cup.[3] Howlett had won his first cup with Munster only five and a half months into his career in the Northern Hemisphere. Howlett himself scored a try in the final only for it to be disallowed due to a forward pass from Rua Tipoki.

Howlett during a match against Northampton Saints, April 2010

Howlett joins Rod Kafer and Brad Thorn in having won major rugby tournaments in both the southern and northern hemispheres, the Super 14 and Heineken Cup respectively. He enjoyed his success with the Auckland Blues in the 2003 Super 12 and Munster in 2008. With Munster winning the Magners League title for the 08–09 season, Howlett held both a Heineken Cup and Magners League medal in the space of just two seasons with Munster. On 26 February 2010 it was announced Howlett had signed a contract to stay on at Munster until the end of the 2010–11 season, with the option for a further year.[4] That option was confirmed by Munster in February 2011, and he began the 2011/2012.[5][6] But in December 2011, Howlett picked up an Achilles tendon injury in a Pro 12 game against Ospreys which ruled him out for the rest of the season.[7][8]

On 24 February 2012, Munster announced that Howlett had extended his contract until the end of the 2012–13 season.[9] On 24 August 2012, it was announced that Howlett would take over from Paul O'Connell as the Munster squad captain for the 2012–13 season.[10] He underwent successful knee surgery in late January 2013, and returned to action after the surgery on 2 March 2013. On 14 May 2013, it was confirmed that Howlett, after receiving medical advice, would retire from rugby due to a shoulder injury he sustained playing against Glasgow Warriors in March 2013.[11][12][13][14]

Howlett returned to the province as a corporate ambassador in December 2013.[15] He went on to become Munster's head of commercial and marketing, before returning to New Zealand in the autumn of 2019.[16]


Howlett debuted for the All Blacks on 16 June 2000. In his career, he scored on average 4 points per game (155 from his first 38). He was also a first choice winger in the 2003 World Cup.

Howlett scored 49 tries for the All Blacks, a team record.[17] His hat-trick against Italy on 8 September 2007, at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, brought him level with the record of Christian Cullen, the All Blacks' previous leading try scorer and then his try in the 15th minute against Scotland on 23 September gave him the record.

He was selected for the Rugby World Cup squad ahead of Canterbury and Tasman player Rico Gear; however, he was expected to play the first three rounds of the 2007 Air New Zealand Cup. He scored a hat trick in Auckland's victory over Counties Manukau in the first round, and on 11 August against Waikato he scored two, bringing his try total for Auckland to 50. Howlett was known as a winger with a high work rate and strong defensive tackling ability.


Howlett is the brother of former Tongan rugby league international Phil Howlett.[18]

On 22 February 2007 Howlett launched "The Doug Howlett Outreach Foundation" to support New Zealand children between the ages of 8 and 14 who demonstrated academic and sporting ability, initially in the codes of rugby union, rugby league, and netball. It was intended to assist with school and sports fees and sporting equipment. Scholarships and equipment were distributed in 2007 and 2008. The Foundation website is now offline and it appears defunct.

In May 2019, Howlett announced his decision to leave his role as Munster Rugby's Head of Commercial and Marketing after 6 years to return to New Zealand with his family.[19]


Howlett was arrested on 9 October 2007 outside Heathrow Airport's Hilton Hotel on suspicion of criminal damage to two cars.[20] This followed the All Blacks' World Cup loss in Cardiff to France a few days earlier, a game in which Howlett did not play. Howlett subsequently issued an apology through the media.[21]

He was again arrested on 23 December 2010 on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly after his team's Christmas party in Kilkenny city.[22]





New Zealand


  1. ^ "Rugby World Cup: All Blacks keep rolling off the Auckland Grammar production line", 30 October 2015.
  2. ^ "D'Arcy And Murphy Named In Barbarians Squad". irishrugby. 12 May 2009. Archived from the original on 2 June 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  3. ^ O'Sullivan, John. "Howlett's career highlight". The Irish Times.
  4. ^ Geraghty, Pat (26 February 2010). "Munster Rugby: News : Howlett Staying On". Archived from the original on 19 November 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  5. ^ The Editor (7 February 2011). "Munster Rugby: News : Youngsters Weigh in Behind Munster". Archived from the original on 19 November 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2011. ((cite web)): |author= has generic name (help)
  6. ^ "Howlett agrees new deal with Munster". The Irish Times. 7 February 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  7. ^ Farrelly, Hugh (7 December 2011). "Achilles injury rules Doug Howlett out for the season". Irish Independent. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  8. ^ "Howlett ankle injury blow for Munster". RTÉ Sport. 7 December 2011. Archived from the original on 8 December 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  9. ^ "Howlett Extends Contract". 24 February 2012. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  10. ^ "Doug Howlett Named Squad Captain". 24 August 2012. Archived from the original on 27 August 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  11. ^ "Howlett calls time on playing career". Irish Independent. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Munster and former New Zealand wing Doug Howlett Howlett retires". BBC Sport. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  13. ^ "Injury forces Munster's Doug Howlett to retire". RTÉ Sport. 14 May 2013. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  14. ^ "Injury Forces Howlett To Retire". 14 May 2013. Archived from the original on 10 June 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  15. ^ "Corporate Role For Howlett". Munster Rugby. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  16. ^ "Doug Howlett To Return To New Zealand". Munster Rugby. 20 May 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  17. ^ "Howlett & Munster wary of Holah's Ospreys". 7 December 2010. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  18. ^ Jessup, Peter (20 October 1999). "Rugby League: Tongans not planning rough stuff". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  19. ^ "Doug Howlett's 11-year association with Munster comes to an end".
  20. ^ "All Blacks rugby star arrested". CNN. 10 October 2007. Retrieved 13 November 2008.
  21. ^ "Howlett apologises after arrest". RTÉ Sport. 10 October 2007. Archived from the original on 5 May 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  22. ^ "Howlett in 'drunk and disorderly' arrest after Munster team party". Independent News and Media. 23 December 2010. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012.