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NZ Rugby World

NZ Rugby World SPECIAL ISSUE 02 2017

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New Zealand Rugby World is the premier authority on our national game; with sharp analysis and irreverent humour the two key components. In both style and content the writing is award winning and provides an unparalleled depth of insight into the people who play the game and the issues that matter to the fans. The cast of contributors is world class as is the photography and lay-out. Pick this magazine up and you won't want to put it down - rugby has never been so much fun.

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New Zealand
Dark Horse Collective Ltd
6 Issues

in this issue

4 min.
editor’s letter

NOT EVERYONE WILL agree with the 50 players we have chosen for this special issue. There are a few All Blacks included in our list who didn’t play a significant amount of test rugby or necessarily have high profile careers. There are some inclusions that take a bit of justification – but who merit their place nonetheless and to understand why, it’s imperative to be clear that this issue is not about acknowledging the ‘best’ players. This was not an exercise is evaluating whether Richie McCaw was a better player than Michael Jones or whether Sam Whitelock can now be considered a better lock than Colin Meads. That wasn’t it at all. Instead, this was an exercise in trying to determine which players have been able to have genuine influence in shaping the…

2 min.
setting the benchmark

2009 hadn’t been a good year for the All Blacks. At one stage they were sitting on a record of played eight, won four, lost four. Of those four losses, three had come against South Africa where their deficiencies under the higher ball were exposed. The game had gone all kick and chase and the All Blacks weren’t equipped. Their lineout was also broken and they were struggling to win the ball at set piece as their scrum was creaking, too. They’d also been hit hard by injuries and had to play, at various times and lengths, without Richie McCaw, Ali Williams, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu and Daniel Carter. But by mid-September the ship was turning around, in came Tom Donnelly at lock, Owen Franks at tighthead, Kieran Read became the regular No…

1 min.
cultural revolution

This turned out to be a critical game in New Zealand rugby history. It became the catalyst for huge change within the team and effectively influenced the next 13 years. The All Blacks coaching panel of the time discovered a huge amount about the state of their players this day at Ellis Park. After being thumped, the players had a huge session on the booze, which ended up with some of them being put in the recovery position in the hotel grounds. It was a shocking night, largely because it illustrated how wed the All Blacks were to amateur institutions such as court sessions. When they got back to New Zealand, the coaches introduced a new leadership model – giving huge responsibility to the players. The wanted a collaborative leadership team, not a dictatorial…

1 min.
world domination

No team had ever successfully defended their world title and given that six champions had tried and failed, there was a feeling it would never be done. It was just too hard to either keep a team together for four years until the next tournament or successfully regenerate with enough new faces to give the team a new edge. But the All Blacks did it: they managed to hold onto half of their squad that won in 2011. Against the odds perhaps, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock, who were all close to or in their early thirties at the previous World Cup, made it to England still as genuine world class players. Bolstering this old guard and energising the side were new players such…

15 min.
50 most influential all blacks in history

50 Stephen Donald [2008-2011] CAPS 23 Stephen Donald is the perfect example of why no one should ever think doors stay permanently closed in a professional career. They don’t – as he proved when he went from being the most vilified player in New Zealand to national hero. Donald is living proof that the most unlikely players can end up having the most incredible influence. No one can say the All Blacks wouldn’t have won the 2011 World Cup without Donald, but he certainly had a massive influence in ensuring they did. Drafted into the squad as the fourth-choice first-five for the semifinal, he ended up having to play 55 minutes of the final. He wasn’t in great shape physically, hadn’t played for five weeks and he suddenly found himself as the All Blacks’…

14 min.
green tea party

Looking back now, it’s easy to see how off track the All Blacks were in the first decade of professionalism. Strangely, their big advantage in the amateur period was their professional attitude and culture. Or at least, what helped the All Blacks in that late period of amateurism was that they were more professional than their international peers in attitude and discipline. They trained harder, smarter and spent longer working on their basic skills. But they were still largely amateur in mindset when it came to the wider issues of lifestyle and holistic preparation. And it was this that came to hurt them in the first decade of the professional era. The game transitioned but in many respects the All Blacks didn’t. They embraced professionalism, but only up to a point. They remained…