Beware an All Black

It is often said that a nation’s sporting teams are a reflection of the nation itself. While stereotyping nationality is fraught with obvious dangers, not least being ridiculously generalised, there seems to be a reasonable body of evidence to suggest that the way in which a team goes about their work does indeed reflect the personality of the country they represent.

On face value the style of play shown by various teams in this year’s World Cup did offer a glimpse of their nation’s psyche. The flair and exuberance of the South American, the stoic and regimented style of the Germans, the carefree attitude of the African countries and so on. The performance of the French did nothing to deflect their reputation as cheese eating surrender monkeys and England was, well English.

Having recently returned from the land of the wrong white crowd, I can safely say that our perception of New Zealand could not be further from the truth. Ok, last weekend’s Sunday Mail did report an incident involving a man and a sheep but he testified that he was only helping it over the fence which I think is very plausible given their well know stupidity ( sheep I mean). Some might say that visiting NZ is like stepping back in time by 30 years. I personally found this very refreshing. Despite all protestations, the 80s had some terrific music so why not keep playing it on high rotation. The 82’ Holden Commodore was a ripper so the need to upgrade to any modern vehicle seems superfluous.

However, New Zealand’s passion for sports is a truer reflection of the country and its’ inhabitants and no other team shows those qualities more than the All Blacks. You can roll out your Tall Ferns and All Whites and get generous support. But put 15 blokes in a black jumper and then you see what the place is about. It has been said that the black and white army from Victoria Park have an unequalled passion. Not when compared with the passion of an entire country that has a seige mentality greater than Bin Laden.

Australian have a reputation as a nation that loves its sports none more so than “The Sporting Capital of the World”, Melbourne, that our teams are a reflection of our character. Well I’m afraid that the faux adoration shown by groups such as the Fanatics (get a job you lot) pales against the fervour and absolute commitment to the NZ rugby team. The All Blacks are New Zealand.

Where else can a group of like minded individual hurl insults and abuse at their opponents BEFORE a game and the opponents take it like whimpering dogs. The Haka has no peer and quite frankly the players openly snicker when John Williamson sings Waltzing Matilda. How can a song about a sheep shagger inspire fear? The All Blacks are mix of races just as New Zealand is. Like their fore fathers, they have a treaty that recognises the connection between the indigenous Maori and the settling Europeans. Only this treaty has a slight twist. The spiritual leader of this group is not a mythical god or warrior, it is Richie McCaw. There is no other man spoken of with such reverence. He is the face of the All blacks and he is a New Zealander. Proud, unrelenting and fierce in battle.

But like many young countries, New Zealand still is full of insecurities and the All Blacks represent the country’s greatest fear. Failure to win the Rugby World Cup. No other trophy inspires a nation like this one. It is their holy grail, their ultimate prize, their reason for being. Sure they get behind their cricket team but it difficult to commit to a team that once donned a beige uniform.

Yet every four years, they stumble at the final hurdle. Next year New Zealand will host the Rugby World Cup. The nation’s soul will be on display through the 15 blokes in a black jumpers and all ceremonial displays of aggression will be replaced by real actions. Let’s, for our own safely, hope they don’t stumble again as there are 450,000 expatriate New Zealanders in Australia and heads will roll should they not be appeased. Forget the goose in the yellow jacket behind the Collingwood goals. These people are serious. Very, very serious.

About Tony Robb

A life long Blues supporter of 49 years who has seen some light at the end of the tunnel that isn't Mick Malthouse driving a train.


  1. John Butler says

    So TR, going back there any time soon?

  2. Tony – a year ago I had to go to NZ to attend a Board meeting for a particular company. The room was full of All Black gurnseys and paraphernalia including a large framed and signed poster of Richie McCaw.

    At the conclusion of the meeting (I was the only Aussie there) they asked how I enjoyed being in the same room as the great Richie McCaw. When I asked them (somewhat provocatively) “Who the hell is Richie McCaw?” I almost got lynched!!

  3. John
    Id go back in a minute. Great place and people. Just a little unhinged when it come to the All Blacks and a tendency to deep fry everything that moves. I ducked out by declaring my love of Hockey and Badminton.

  4. Also It was odd that they had not heard of Chris Judd or seem interest in were Gary Ablet Jnr would be playing next year. Go figure

  5. Great read TR.

    I’m surprised they were not interested in Gazza given he’s considering playing for one of their major cities.

    Was at the Comedy Club one night and a comedian threw out the line, “If Australia was ever invaded by Indonesia, I’d head straight to New Zealand. They’d be the safest country in the world given the number of bouncers they’ve got.”



  6. Pete,
    I beleive they have a night club for bouncers to go with puny white blokes on the door

  7. Rocket Rod Gillett says

    I always recall after the Wallabies beat the All Blacks for the Bledisloe Cup in the early 2000s, a newspaper banner headine asked, “How could a rugby team beat a rugby nation?”

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