All Blacks are Winning and the Sun is Shining

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.


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