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10 August 2014
Sunday night on the couch at around half past eight at my place has always been a bit of a ritual. Its always been the time to settle back and enjoy 'quality theatre' on New Zealand's TV1. This last weekend having a film about a familiar and warm rugby memory for New Zealanders in that timeslot might have been a risk. But 'The Kick' was a delight. I never moved for its near two-hour duration.
Seeing our famous All Blacks characterised so well, in a solid storyline about Stephen Donald being at first not wanted by the All Blacks for the 2011 Rugby World Cup - and then, because of injuries to those who had replaced him, recalled from a lonely whitebait vigil to become a national superstar was very well told. Perhaps the only quibble was the ending; Donald's great kick in the final versus France, while wearing a tight rugby jersey, had already become part of our great All Black story. But 'The Kick's' dramatisation of it recalled our excitement in a new way.
I loved the Stephen Donald character (played by fit young actor David de Latour); especially the scenes of him havin' a few beers at home to cover his disappointment at not having been picked in the All Blacks since he had had a shocker v Australia in Hong Kong in 2008.
I also thought the depiction of his mates Mils Muliaina and Richard Kahui were spot on, while the bloke who played Graham Henry was the best of all (grim faced and stony like 'Ted' was for the seven years of his All Black coaching time).
The scenes of World Cup games being played by actors then intercut with actual match footage was seamless; too often in any film of sports stories the actors involved cannot match the commitment and energy of actual athletes so authority is diminished. But in 'The Kick' that did not happen. It crossed my mind that using so much IRB Rugby World Cup footage must have cost the producers plenty. I hope they think it was all worthwhile.
I know the production staff of the movie were pleased with what they got; I said hello to producer Danny Mulheron in a plane one night and he was grinning with the progress of the action. Then I saw writer Tom Scott having lunch one day; he too looked chuffed.
They have every reason to be pleased. They have captured a beaut New Zealand rugby story very well. I hope 'Beaver' Donald is pleased too. His life changed with that winning moment for New Zealand on Eden Park. From Hong Kong's zero placement he went back to lifetime hero. Now the story of his 'comeback' is there for everyone to celebrate for all time.
The first test when playing for money fires up Sean Fitzpatrick's team to a 43-6 win over Australia in Wellington!
A Maori challenge, or war dance, which is traditionally performed by New Zealand rugby teams before their test matches. Vigorous, aggressive and intimidating, the haka was a ritual dance performed as much to fire up its proponents as to strike terror into the hearts of the enemy. In the rugby context, the haka issues to the opposition the challenge to play hard and well.
The first New Zealand team to perform the haka was the 1905–06 team in Britain. The 1928 All Black team in South Africa did the haka and the South Africans replied with a war chant of their own, being made up on the morning of the game!
New Zealanders know that when All Black teams are made up only of Pakeha players (Europeans), the haka is never performed with the vigour and feeling exhibited by Maori players.
Originally the haka was only performed by New Zealand teams when they were playing away from home, but when Scotland toured New Zealand in 1975 and later during the World Cup games in 1987, the haka was from then on always seen within New Zealand too. It is enormously popular in all the countries visited by New Zealand teams.
Which New Zealand sports broadcaster once described a tight tennis match as 'a Battle of Nutrition.'
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