All Blacks are Winning and the Sun is Shining

on Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Ottawa Senators may have failed to bring home the Stanley Cup this year but the All Blacks did not disappoint. On the 21st of July in Auckland, the All Blacks beat the Wallabies 26 -12 and won the Tri-Nations title for the third straight year and the Bledisloe Cup for the sixth year in the row. For me, that is an omen that all is right in the world.

I am talking rugby. The one sport that competes with ice hockey for my attention. This year in September will be the Rugby World Cup to be held in France. You can be sure of a few more posts then. This post isn't intended to explain rugby (I'll do that in a later post). It is just a celebration of the All Blacks triumph in these competitions just ahead of the world cup.

For the "rugby uneducated", the Tri-Nations is a three way competition between the top national teams of the southern hemisphere which are Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Most fans will agree that these three are probably the best teams in the world. So it is really a competition amongst the elite. Each team plays two games against each of their opponents and the team with the most points from the games wins. The Bledisloe Cup is basically a grudge match between Australia and New Zealand.

Australia's team is called the Wallabies and South Africa's team is the Springboks. New Zealand's team are the All Blacks ......well, because they wear an all black jersey. Anyway, the All Blacks are an amazing and exciting team to watch when they are firing on all cylinders. There were periods in rugby history when they almost seemed undefeatable. It is rumored that the New Zealanders or Kiwis develop and hone their rugby skills by practicing tackling on the plentiful sheep in their country.

The All Blacks also entertain in other ways. One tradition which is a big hit with all the fans is the performance of the "haka" by the team before the games start. The haka is a type of traditional Maori dance and the haka that is performed, "Ka Mate", is a war dance that celebrates the use of cunning to defeat the enemy's purpose. The story behind this haka dates back to 1810 when chief Te Rauparaha hid in a pit to escape his enemies. When he finally emerged from the pit, he saw a man standing at the top but it turned out to be an ally rather than the enemy and so he successfully escaped the enemy's trap. He was then said to perform this haka in celebration.

In English, the words mean; "It is death, it is death: it is life, it is life; this is the man who enabled me to live as I climb up step by step toward sunlight."

The haka is performed with a lot of aggressive posturing, face grimaces, showing the whites of the eyes, sticking out the tongue and slapping of hands on the body. It is intended to send a challenge to the opposing side and to intimidate them.

Here are the words and meaning to the Ka Mate (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Leader: Ringa pakia! Slap the hands against the thighs!
Uma tiraha! Puff out the chest!
Turi whatia! Bend the knees!
Hope whai ake! Let the hip follow!
Waewae takahia kia kino! Stamp the feet as hard as you can!

Leader: Ka mate, ka mate ’Tis death, ‘tis death
Team: Ka ora, ka ora ’Tis life, ‘tis life
Leader: Ka mate, ka mate ’Tis death, ‘tis death
Team: Ka ora, ka ora ’Tis life, ‘tis life
All: Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru This the hairy man that stands here...
Nāna nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā who brought the sun and caused it to shine
Ā upane, ka upane A step upward, another step upward
Ā upane, ka upane A step upward, another step upward
Whiti te rā, hī! The sun shines!

So, the All Blacks are winning and they are favorites going into the world cup. Somehow that reassures me that all is right in the world. Gravity still works and the sun is still shining.

I'll end this post with this wonderful picture to savour. This is the captain of the All Blacks Richie McCaw with the Bledisloe Cup safely in his paws for another year.


Squirrel said...

WOW that picture actually made me want to go watch them play Rugby! Cool dance!

the walking man said...

Congratulations to NZ for their win!

I am afraid though that if a game like that started out that way in Detroit the mac 11's, Uzi's and Ak47's would come out and finish the competition before it started. No sense in playing fair a team that wants to beat you bloody that strongly.



meggie said...

Why LGS, I had no idea you were so passionate about Rugby!

As a Kiwi, dare I say, I stopped being interested when the 1981 Sprinbok tour of New Zealand caused hatred & division to errupt & I saw brother turn against brother in the name of Apartheid.
We owned a country Hotel deep in the heart of Rugby country, & the behaviour I witnessed made me vow never to watch again.

blackcrag said...

As a Canadian, I challenge the All Blacks to a rugby match on ice. There, that ought to even the field a bit.

I'm told Canada has a international rugby team. Of course, I was told by a New Zealander. If it doesn't happen on ice, it doesn't really capture a Canuck's attention.

I'm not surprised by your love of hockey. But I am curious how you came across it? And who your favourite team is, naturally.

MedStudentWife said...

I've never really watch Rugby, and I used to watch hockey (1960's-1970s) when it was truly a Canadian sport.. not like now.

So my comment on hockey & your blog is from the "now" (not the true past Canadian hockey perspective) perspective"...

*heheh -evil laff* no Ottawa Senator is going to match the All Blacks - ice or not (I bet).I know a bit about New Zealand and Maori culture - their game skills are from a lifetime of war. Hockey came from what ?

And from a female perspective.. how many hockey players can strut their stuff the same way these fellows can *swoon* and still mean "death" and really scare their opponent. Forget the scary faces painted on the goalies masks.

Actually - its interesting to look at different sport cultures. As I've been in or reading about the Carribean for the past 15 years, cricket is the biggie. If you listen to CKCU (in Paradise), at times Junior Smith (depending on the season)will broadcast live'ish cricket matches. I've not figured that sport out yet.

I'll be watching your blog for more news:)

Hmmm... gotta find me a video of the "All Black" opening chant

Sorry fellows & gals that might be offended - I am allowing myself a public "drool" *lol*

Josie said...

Great post...! Back when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I had a very(!) good friend who was a New Zealand All Black. I still have the little silver fern pin he gave me.

I watched the team perform the haka one year, and I absolutely fell in love with it. Did you ever see a movie called "Whale Rider"? They perform the kapa haka in that, and it's wonderful.

Somehow I suspected you were a rugby fan.


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I'm not surprised. There's quite a bit of male hunkiness on display! LoL

I understand what you mean but yet surprisingly rugby fans are among the most docile and friendly in the world. My theory is that the violence and mayhem on the field is enough to keep every one satisfied. Now on the field, its a different matter where stomping on heads and biting off ears have been known to happen. :)

I faintly recall the 1981 Springbok tour and the controversies but I think if you watch today, it is a different climate. The South African team is today truly racially integrated and doing well. I think rugby had a role in this. In fact after the end of apartheid, the very first racially integrated national team for South Africa, playing for the first time internationally after years of sports embargo actually wins the Rugby World Cup, spurned on by the presence of Nelson Mandela. It was an emotional moment and one that helped the country build new ties within their communities. Try watching again. I think you would be pleasantly surprised.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Haha. I enjoy both ice hockey and rugby but I don't think it is fair to have the two sports have a go at each other on or off the ice. There are lots of similarities. Both are extremely bruising sports which require physical strength, incredible stamina and yet speed and agility. The result is a fluidity which almost approaches poetry in motion. Oh, and in both cases, the players are probably missing some teeth!

I studied in Ottawa for 3 years back in the early 1990's and learned to be fanatical about the game. For sentimental reasons, I support the Senators even though they sucked when I was there. Basically I support any Canadian team!

By the way, Canada's national rugby team had some brief success in the mid 1990's when you had some decent play makers. It's floundered since.

Thank you for your wonderfully funny comments but please reinsert tongue into mouth, close mouth and stop drooling all over my blog! I'll have to mop up all the puddles, you know!

Ah, cricket. That's a funny game. I can explain it but unless it is one day cricket, it really, really is a slow game.

I think I will try to post a video of the haka for you, squirrel and all the other women lurking and drooling out there.

However did you guess that i was a rugby fan? Intuition or did I give it away earlier?

Oooooo Ooooo Ooooo. that's my response to the news that you personally know an All Black. My closest encounter is a wet, sweaty handshake with Jonah Lomu. One of my friends has a piece of paper with scratches which were made by Jonah Lomu (scratches because the stupid pen ran out of ink!)

Haven't seen the Whale Rider yet.

Open Grove Claudia said...

It's fascinating. I had no idea.

CS said...

Oh, then you must see Whale Rider. It's a wonderful movie.

I have never seen a rugby game, but my brother was on his high school's team in England. Broke his collar bone!

Claire said...

If my giant son had grown up in the southern hemi, he would have loved rugby! As it is he plays (American) football in college. I'm sure I'd love it too since I am his #1FAN.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

glad for the opportunity to share this with you.

I played rugby a total of three times. Chalk it up as another embarassing experience in my life. Needless to say, my team was bad and our greatest acheivement was almost getting a field goal when one player panicked and kicked the ball blindly to get it away from himself. It just missed the upright.

I have watched both America football and rugby. With American football, there are more strategies and set pieces but rugby is more fluid. For me rugby, more fun to watch.

eastcoastdweller said...

Eh, sports. Kids with no coordination, such as I was, grow up to be guys who could take em or leave em.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Well, the only sports I actively take part in is "spectator" sports. I.e. safely tucked in a stadium seat! LoL.

I have actually played rugby before but that is another embarassing tale.

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