Haka, energy and spiritual journey: what you should know about rugby in New Zealand
Updated: Jul 20
New Zealanders believe that sport is a way of bringing people together and create meaningful friendships. With that, rugby is one of the country’s most popular sports. In New Zealand rugby is as popular as football is in Brazil. Basically, it is a big deal!
The National team is known as the All Blacks because a London reporter made a spelling error when they intended to write “All Backs.” It was a funny typo that stuck throughout the years.
Before every game the team performs the Haka which is a traditional dance and vocal Maori chant. This characteristic dance elevates rugby from being “just a sport” and takes the players on a spiritual journey. I wasn’t kidding when I said that rugby is a big deal in New Zealand!
The All Blacks were the first winners of the Rugby Union World Cup as hosts back in 1987 and have since gone on to win the World Cup twice more in 2011 and again in 2015. New Zealand’s biggest rivals are their neighbours, Australia, who they have played over 170 times. New Zealand have beaten them 117 times.
In general, New Zealand usually dominate other teams and on five occasions they racked up 100 points or more!
- The All Blacks most famous player was Jona Lomu who made his debut on the team at just 19 years of age. Sadly he passed away in 2005 from a heart attack. His legacy, however, continues to live as there aren’t many rugby players like Lomu.
- The heaviest player to ever take the field for the All Blacks was Neemia Tialata who weighed 135kg.
- Only 2% of players who have played for the All Blacks were born in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Western Samoa, crushing rumors that New Zealand scouts talent from across the islands.
- There was once a player from New Zealand who was over 2 metres tall. Great for Line outs!
It is safe to say that rugby is a way of life in New Zealand. If you’re ever touring the country, I highly recommend watching a rugby match. The adrenaline and intensity pumps through the air – you immediately become a rugby fan!