A powerhouse lock, Hadley was a key part of the Canadian team which reached the World Cup quarterfinals in 1991. In 1993, he captained his team in a drawn series against a powerful England A touring team, which included the likes of Martin Johnson, Tim Rodber, Neil Back, Darren Garforth, Graham Rowntree and Kyran Bracken.
After moving to the UK, he spent three years with Wasps, during which time they reached the final of the Pilkington Cup (in 1995) and twice finished third in the Courage League.
Standing 6’7” tall and weighing in at 21 stone, he was a true giant on the field and one of the most respected and feared enforcers of the late amateur era.
Former Wasps’ captain Lawrence Dallaglio, who played with him for three years, has fond memories of his old teammate, saying,
“This is really sad news. He was a wonderful man, a real character and a very serious rugby player. When he came into the Wasps team, there were some pretty imposing characters there, like Dean Ryan and Buster White, but he added his own unique brand to the team and the club. He was a real enforcer on the field and one of the boys off it.
“It was still the amateur era and he enjoyed mixing work and rugby. When he joined the club, I was still trying to establish myself and the hardest thing I ever had to do was lift him in the lineout. If things weren’t going well, he certainly let you know about it. Off the field, he was a very kind and generous man and the thing I most remember about him was his laugh!”
Lawrence’s good friend Chris Wright was one of the Wasps’ scrum-halves at the time. Diminutive, even by scrum-half standards, he once tried on Norm’s jacket. It nearly reached the floor.
Perhaps his finest hour was when he was travelling to work on the London Underground, at rush hour. Two youngsters were smoking and abusing any passengers who challenged them. Norm rose from his seat, drew himself up to his full height and glowered at them. They immediately stubbed out their cigarettes and hastily got off at the next stop, while Norm received a round of applause. The story reached the front pages and Norm’s behaviour was commended in the House of Commons.
A great player and a great man, who will be sadly missed.