"In a World Cup, you do not have to be the best team on Earth, you just have to win three games in a row (quarter, half and final, ed)" In his own way, Conrad Smith, double winner of the trophy with New Zealand (2011, 2015), now coach at Pau, sums up the equation proposed to the last eight qualifiers of the ninth global tournament of rugby in Japan. On Saturday, at 12.15, the All Blacks will face Ireland in Chofu, on the outskirts of Tokyo, in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. The country's long white cloud country team is still a big favorite in the event, although Ireland has beaten them twice in their last three games. His only two defeats against XV Trefoil in a hundred and fifteen years of history. Since the beginning of the XXe century, the Blacks present a statistical record that flouts the understanding and maintains the legend. Anatomy of a myth in the form of an alphabet commented by former "all-blacks" interviewed by Libe.
The cult was forged from the beginning in … Europe. During their first tour of the Old Continent in 1905-1906, the Originals conceded only one defeat in 33 games. They earn a nickname, "The All Blacks", whose origin does not come from a shell of an English journalist who would have written "They are all blacks" instead of "They are all backs" (They are all back) but the name of the first team from New Zealand, a Maori selection, the Natives, who played in black. It will be twenty years to see the All Blacks again. These will win their 32 games in Europe in 1924-25. They will be called Invincibles. These first two trips will endorse the founding myth. Based on sporting exploits, the rarity of their appearances and definitive details that add to their mystique (their entirely black outfit, the silver fern embroidered on their torso). Later, will come the haka, this insular warrior ritual. "The black jersey, the silver fern have been there for a hundred and twenty years. They represent all the players who preceded us. It's unique, it gives us pride. We are a small country, we do not have many neighbors. It's a bit of us against the rest of the world, reports Ian Kirkpatrick, ex-captain of the Blacks (1972-74).
like high school
"New Zealand produces great streaming players because our clubs and school system are super-organized."explains Colin Slade, double world champion, today in the Pau section. In fact, rugby at school works in part against what might be expected of elite discipline. "Youth categories are determined by weight, not age; we reward those who progress the most; everyone is guaranteed to play at least one half. We prefer the game to the result ", details Graham Mourie, former captain of the national team (1977-82). The competition resumes near the end of high school with the National First XV, a domestic league school, which unleashes the passions, much like the university championship of American basketball. "That's where most of the All Blacks come from," ensures Kirkpatrick.
In New Zealand, of course, rugby is a matter of tradition and culture. From the beginning, in the second half of the XIXe century, the Maori played with the Pakehas ("whites") who brought rugby from old Europe. For about twenty years, the Polynesians have come to swell the numbers of the armada, mainly because of the economic immigration. "Islanders played a big role in the recent history of the All Blacks, Jerome Kaino, doubles title holder and captain of Stade Toulousain. "The All Blacks have become a melting pot with the arrival of these immigration children from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, explains Mourie. In all team sports today, national teams tend to integrate players from elsewhere, and overall they succeed. "
like Black Book
This little black book is a booklet that is offered to the merchants on the occasion of their first cape. "It tells the story of the All Blacks. There are pictures of Originals and Invincibles, the lyrics of different hakas, it only contains a few pages. It means especially your enthronement in the selection ", says Colin Slade. The social life of New Zealand rugby players is organized around well-defined rituals. For a long time, it revolved around the humiliation and hazing of the youngest, of a firmly established hierarchy (places in the bus, at the restaurant). "These things have changed with professionalism, says Slade. Until 2004, for example, there were games like a court between players who were the occasion of big drinking. On tour now, we go to a local bar, we do a "black meeting" and we drink a beer, no more. We make dance competitions, we give pledges to the new ones; we have fun, it's very childish. "
This summer, kiwi rugby has buried Sir Brian Lochore, former captain (1966-70), then coach, coach and manager of the Blacks between 1983 and 2007. All the past and present gotha of neo-Z rugby was present at the funeral, and Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister. Even if the All Blacks still favor the collective, he has never been able to do without great leaders. "We often had great captains. They have often been accompanied by guys who are used to the responsibilities. This is the essence of our game, that everyone takes his share. Perhaps we have sometimes lost it with the advent of professionalism. It was necessary to digest this new phase, deciphers Mourie. In 2004, after a failed Tri-Nations tournament and a slow drift of leaders, Graham Henry and Wayne Smith will question everything in the operation of the national team. "Everything is perfectly framed now. Everyone knows what to do, synthesizes Jerome Kaino.
Like many Brazilian footballers from privileged backgrounds (Raï, Leonardo, Maxwell …), New Zealand rugby players consider themselves primarily ambassadors. Of their country, their team, their sport; in this order. "When we put on the jersey, we know that we represent more than his little person. We must be exemplary ", pleads Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 2015 world champion, who evolves at Stade Rochelais. "We also represent those who have worn this shirt before. This jersey does not belong to you, you borrowed it. You try to leave it in a better condition than it was before wearing it, " supports Colin Slade.
as a world cup
Between 1987 (their victory in the first edition) and 2011 (their second title), the All Blacks often had the bad idea to be the best team on the planet between two World Cups without winning. Until conceiving a form of curse. To the point that the federation intrigued to be awarded the global tournament in 2011 to the detriment of Japan. Although they find it hard to admit, the Blacks were starting to feed a complex. "In 2011, we had learned from our failures, we were excited. Around us, the supporters were nervous. I hated the idea that we could lose that final. Well, yes, we imagined the worst, "admits Jerome Kaino. The Blacks blow the Blues (37-15) in hens, before beating them hard in the final (8-7) in a match unbreathable. "We all grew up with the idea that we have the best team in the world. We know the necessary hindsight, play relax but there, it was a real relief. Then in 2015 (their third title), we rolled out, " swear Slade.
as Kapa o Pango or Ka Mate
If a marketing genius had looked at the cradle of the All Blacks, we are not even sure he would have thought of the Holy Trinity of the New Zealanders: the equipment all black, the fern money and the haka. A kind of perfection. The haka, a centuries-old ritual, has allowed Maori culture to be discovered around the world. It nearly disappeared in 2004 when Graham Henry revolutionized the Kiwis, as Ian Borthwick tells All Blacks, at the heart of black magic (1), his book sum. "It's become something for sponsors and TV," lamented a manager. Finally, the Blacks will keep the link with their heritage. In November 2004, before a match in Saint-Denis, Henry will show the players images of the French mocking the haka five years earlier. As a result, the Neo-Zs will perform a Ka Maté (the best known hakas) wild before sticking a dance to the Blues (6-45). A few months later, to celebrate the new era, they will begin a new song, as warlike as spiritual, the Kapa o Pango.
as a strategy
"If our rugby has managed to be as successful, it owes in part to his coaches top level. They perpetuate our culture, are constantly inventing, innovating, renewing the performance. They are constantly seeking, explains Jerome Kaino. This permanence at the top for nearly one hundred and twenty years finds its foundations in this constant search, in this strategic watch of what is done elsewhere and in other sports at all levels of the kiwi pyramid: the school, clubs, provinces and the national team. "Very early, we are taught to work hard, to be humble. In the country, there is an expression that says "good people make good All Blacks". Of course, the talent is important but if you have the right attitude, that you are disrespectful towards the team or your teammates, we will quickly find someone to replace you, continues Colin Slade. Good players, that's not missing. "
. (tagsToTranslate) New Zealand (t) Rugby Union (t) New Zealand (t) Haka (t) Colin Slade (t) Jerome Kaino (t) World Cup (t) Māori (t) Fern (t) coach (t) Europe (t) Immigration (summer)