THE ALL BLACKS

SPORTING ICONS

I worked in Dubai a few years ago and was surprised to find one of my students come to class wearing an All Blacks T-shirt. He said they were his heroes and that he found them an inspiration. Here was a guy living in the UAE who told me things about the New Zealand rugby team I wasn’t aware of.

All Blacks Win again

Winning Rugby World Cup Again

I have to agree with the majority of Kiwis who consider New Zealand’s most successful product is the nation’s world famous rugby team. The All Black brand is amazingly successful.

How can a rugby team reach such international acclaim?

Formed in 1903, the All Blacks are the greatest team to have ever played rugby union. They have been the ‘Rugby Team of the Year’ seven times since 2005. As I discovered on my travels, even people in countries that don’t follow rugby, know about the All Blacks. I’m not going to write about the team’s various victories on the sports field as these have been heavily recorded and can be found in countless articles and books on rugby. I do however, want to talk about the impact the All Blacks have had on New Zealand’s psyche.

KIWI ATTITUDE

The boys in the team are popular because they display modesty and make themselves accessible to their fans. They embody the Kiwi attitude that pride is for fools and that getting the job done with the minimum of fuss is the best way to achieve success. Another reason why the average New Zealander loves the players who wear the All Black’s jersey is their complete lack of arrogance. This no doubt comes from the past few coaches who have constantly stated that they must work as a team and concentrate on their next game, not on bragging or trying to impress.  Between games, All Black players are accessible and like to mingle with local kids to encourage them to follow their dreams. Behaving like ordinary boys next door is the reason Kiwis can so easily relate to their rugby heroes and support them in the way they do. This also goes for all the internationally successful sportsmen and women who represent New Zealand. (The New Zealand Olympic rowing champions and the Americas Cup sailors come to mind)

BIG BUSINESS

I went shopping for an All Blacks sweatshirt recently and took a deep breath when I was told the price. The merchandising of the All Blacks logo is carefully managed and a top price has to be paid for a genuine product. However, it turned out to be worth it as the quality of the garment was obvious. It is apparent that anything to do with the All Blacks needs to reflect the quality of the players themselves. It takes dedication and commitment to become an All Black and everything associated with the name is carefully handled.

HAKA

The Haka, a Maori war dance, has been made famous around the world thanks to the All Blacks performing it before every game they play. As a result of the publicity it has gained, the Haka is now performed at many events around New Zealand. Even schools perform the war dance to welcome important people to their schools. It is also performed at numerous public events. Before the All Blacks adopted the dance, it was little seen and very few people knew how to perform it. I personally think the Haka is over performed these days. Its foot stomping, shouts and tongue exposure was originally designed to intimidate enemies so to confront a celebrity or dignitary with it when they arrive at a New Zealand airport is hardly welcoming. If anything, it can be embarrassing for them as they stand and face the aggressive display. However, I have been told that many people regard it an honour to be confronted with a Haka so I guess I have to mellow my opinion on this issue.

All Blacks Haka

All Blacks performing the Haka

Non New Zealanders from singers to entertainers have started to perform the Maori dance as part of their shows but there has been fierce objection from some Maori elders who say it is disrespectful and should only be performed by New Zealanders who understand  the cultural significance of the dance.

WINNERS

Everyone loves a winner. Winning is particularly important to such a small isolated country like New Zealand. Kiwis are known for punching above their weight in many fields of endeavor from science to innovation and the arts. (I will be discussing this in a future blog) However, it’s the country’s sports champions who are most celebrated by the man in the street. Sportsmen and women are the superstars and every time they win an international fixture, and New Zealand is mentioned, a wave of rejoicing rolls over the country. This is particularly felt when a New Zealand team beats Australia. Being such aggressive players and bad losers, a win over them is a special reason to celebrate.

All Blacks Win Again

Rugby World Cup Winners

THE SILVER FERN

The silver fern is possibly the most recognized emblem associated with New Zealand, as well as the All Blacks. “The Silver Ferns” is even the name for the country’s national netball team. The silver fern appears on many Air New Zealand aircraft as the national carrier seems to be adopting it as its emblem too. The silver fern graces the front of caps worn by many New Zealand sportsmen including some of the world’s greatest yachtsmen. It also features on the Black Caps (New Zealand Cricket team) costumes.  I can’t understand why it’s not on the New Zealand flag!

Silver Fern

Silver Fern and the All Blacks

AIR NEW ZEALAND PROMOTION

Air New Zealand is noted for the zany inflight safety videos that started a few years ago. It would therefore stand to reason that one of these would feature the All Blacks. To my knowledge, the airline has used All Black players in a number of promotions because of the international recognition they have. I guess you could say, these guys are New Zealand’s equivalent of famous movie stars. Having said that, we do have our share of famous movie stars too!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ_kMrDmlQY

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