Wow. That New Zealand rugby team sure is something to behold. The way those 15 men use that 100 by 69 metre pitch to such marvellous effect; the way they consistently decimate the competition to maintain their undeniable standing as the world’s best; the way their coach handles himself in front of the camera and manages to easily out-staunch his contemporaries; the way their uniforms accentuate every rippling muscle of their formidable physiques; the way their almighty name sounds in your ears – the All Blacks…
Yeah. That could probably use some work.
Back in the early 1900s when a simple mispronunciation lead to NZ’s rugby union side going from the ‘All Backs’, on account of their all-round speed and agility, to the ‘All Blacks’, for some other reason entirely, the fact that only one or two of the team’s players were Black didn’t seem to matter; to now, at a time where the world has become so utterly hung up on political correctness, it is more than a little odd to see just how easily we accept that our national side is called the All Blacks – if it were anything other than our beloved rugby team you can be damn sure we would not stand for it.
What’s interesting though is how quick we are to dismiss the notion that this is a blatant, also mildly offensive, misnomer. Sure, they wear black clothing, but the thing is, in today’s world, if Steve Tew suddenly decided that our national rugby team was to change its name from, for example, the ‘National Brotherhood’, to this new and improved version, the ‘New Zealand All Blacks’, it would cause no end of uproar – “Why would you call them the All Blacks when only a few of them are Black?” some might ask, or “Gee, I don’t know about that, isn’t that a bit, you know, racist?” or perhaps “Nah man, that’s one of those words, you know, you gotta actually be Black to say black.”
In a time where some idiots consider calling a Nigerian ‘Black’ an act of racism, how is NZ still getting away with this?
A little while ago, when the All Blacks were planning to travel to the USA for a one-off match against the Eagles, I watched in delight as a NZ television news reporter interviewed US citizens at random and asked them if they knew what the ‘All Blacks’ were. After receiving a continuous stream of blank, perplexed, or sometimes belligerent, faces, this pasty-skinned reporter approached an African-American woman and said, “Excuse me, Miss, hi, I’m from New Zealand, I was hoping to ask you a question.”
The young lady looked at first shocked, then confused, then glanced at the TV camera and reluctantly replied, “Oh, OK … Go ahead.”
Flashing a quick grin at the camera himself the reporter fired out the question: “Alright, Miss, can you tell me what the All Blacks are?”
This poor little Negro lass’s face dropped; she looked horrified. She glanced again at the camera as if to confirm that this funny-talking person was for real, before turning her gaze back to the reporter, giving a nervous little half smile and replying, “I dunno … My family?”
Never in all my evening news-watching experience have I laughed so hard.
The question remains: how long will it be before someone in NZ realises that we are blinded by our own sense of arrogance and that our national team is flaunting a name that would get a White man killed on the streets of Chicago?
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Platta Cull Crect-Ness
Photography by Ray Chism