As the All Blacks stare ominously at an historically bad five-loss season ahead (four almost certain defeats - at least once to Ireland, twice in South Africa, and England at Twickenham - better All Black teams have struggled mightily at Twickenham) it’s time to fully appreciate how lucky we are to have this team to support.
This is why I love the All Blacks.
The International Media
There are some outspoken ‘journalists’ abroad who love to stick their knife into the All Blacks at any opportunity – yawn.
Is there anything better than the All Blacks winning consistently and sticking it to their critics?
The Head Honcho
I can already hear the mumblings: “it’s professional sport – it doesn’t matter where your coach(es) come from, blah blah blah”.
But surely there is something not quite right about a New Zealander coaching Australia, an Englishman coaching Ireland, and an Australian coaching England and so on?
Nevertheless having a New Zealander in the most important job in the country is something to be mightily proud of.
Devil’s Advocate: I wonder what kind of sugar hit a certain Australian could bring to this team in a 14-month period heading into September/October next year?
The Holy Grail of Scalps
Even in years when the All Blacks aren’t world champions it is clear who the most sought-after scalp in test rugby is.
This isn’t arrogance.
This is a FACT.
For an exceptionally long period of time this team has led the world in terms of a group from different ethnicities successfully working together for the common good. No need for quotas here.
The Style of Play
Anyone who has even a remote knowledge of American sports knows World Rugby are completely and utterly delusional to think they can make significant (even marginal) inroads into the lucrative American sporting landscape.
Any growth into new markets (which includes increasing the game’s profile in the US) will only come from open attacking play. This is the way forward for the game and the All Blacks’ style of play (along with Australia and the Pacific Island nations) sits as a model for the growth of the game.
Good luck finding a better advertisement for the game of rugby union than the All Blacks vs Australia in Sydney in 2000 or against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2013 (and yes it takes two teams to tango to the level on show in these contests).
Is there anything that better represents discipline, teamwork, unity, and focus while also paying respect to those who have come before them as well as the haka?
It is a thing of beauty and long may the team embrace it, develop it and demonstrate a major part of our culture to the world.
They Never EVER Give Up
This team continually proves to be the perfect role model in staying positive and never giving up.
There are too many examples of this team winning games they had absolutely no business winning (Brisbane 1996 and 2014, Sydney 2010, Johannesburg 2010, Dublin 2013) just to name a few.
What do the incredible comebacks listed above have in common? They came away from home. This team delivers time and time again in the most difficult environments in locations spread across the globe.
We don’t rely on playing the majority of our games within a radius of a comfortable three-hour flight from home.
The ‘No Dickheads Policy’
Across a 15-year period the way Richie McCaw represented this team on and off the field, sacrificed for this team, drove standards in this team, performed under pressure and helped steer this team to incredible achievements was incredible – he is undoubtedly our greatest ever New Zealander.
Imitation is the Greatest Form of Flattery
So the All Blacks’ mission statement to be the ‘most dominant team in the history of sport’ was deviously released by the English media in 2012. Guess what England’s mission statement was as released by their coach earlier this year?
NZR can rightfully be proud of how they have punched above their weight financially during the professional era and contributed mightily to keeping this team at or near the top of the mountaintop.
You don’t have to have the fattest bank account to achieve your lofty goals.
We might be in the unfamiliar position of fifth best team in the world at present (ignore the official rankings) however there is certainly a lot to be grateful for and inspired by.