Monday, September 01, 2014

Secret to New Zealand All Black Success: Passion and an incredible feeder system

There is no more dominant teams perhaps in all of international sports than the New Zealand All-Blacks. Not only do the Kiwis have winning records against all competitors, their win percentage across all games is a colossal seventy-five percent (or so). This of course is no reflection on the quality of opposition. Each of the Australian Wallabies, South African Springboks as well as England and France, to name a few, play high intense rugby and boast admirable records on their own but it is the All-Blacks who steal the show. While the New Zealanders boast a proud history of great players - Jonah Lomu, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Colin Meads – it is the level of teamwork, all round commitment, position play and the pride of following in a tradition that borders on the excellent that have elevated the All-Blacks to legendary status. They never seem to field a weak team and are always a force to be reckoned with. In fact it would not be out of line to say that the All Blacks are rugby union’s default champions. So what is the basis for this success? I believe that it is a consequence of the various tiers of competition that colour the panorama of the kiwi rugby world. Take the Canterbury Rugby Union, who are 11 time winners of the ITM Cup (New Zealand’s premier national competition). Amazingly, 48 Club teams feed into this particular union from three sub-unions, yet Canterbury is only one of 26 unions. The elite from Canterbury then play at the next level in the Super 15 Competition tier together with top players from the various other regional unions in an odyssey of rugby that pits the best of New Zealand against their counterparts in South Africa and Australia. The best of the best from these rarefied Super 15 teams are then selected to represent the All-Blacks on the international front. No other nation boasts such a multi-levelled structure that guarantees consistent competition on a yearlong basis (South Africa comes closest), but clearly it does the trick and is a key component in All Black success.
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