Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
4 January 2016
What a haka classic this is! This one from the little-known but very significant New Zealand Maori team's world tour (with games mainly in France) back in 1926-27. Back then French rugby was very much in the doldrums. The national team hadn't won a game for years in the Five Nations Championship. But the 'Maori rugby' style of fast, open back play changed attitudes right across the south west proved very popular - and soon it was adopted to French way.
The All Blacks beat USA by 51-3 at Berkeley, California. The result plus big defeats by Australia in 1914 helped USA concentrate on their own football!
Once allowed in the game of rugby union, hacking was the practice of bringing a running player down by kicking him in the shins. After several players were severely injured, and one was even killed, measures were taken to have the practice banned in 1871. Many were the protests in Letters to the Editor columns of London newspapers at the time, centred mostly on a ‘softening’ of the game! A number of clubs wanted to maintain hacking as it endorsed the ‘manliness’ of the sport.
In fact hacking played a significant part in the formation of the sport of rugby. When the Football Association (soccer) was formed in 1863, its rules banned handling, running with the ball and hacking. The Blackheath Football Club in London refused to accept that type of game and helped to confirm the new game based on the running, handling rules of Rugby School, which allowed hacking and tripping of a ball-carrying player. Ironically, Blackheath and Richmond later led the drive to have hacking banned after the toll of injuries became too high.The practice was even banned at Rugby School.
Since then hacking has (thankfully) been lost to the game of rugby.
How many players of Samoan-birth or Samoan heritage have captained the All Blacks in tests? Name them.