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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

By Richard Asher
$142
pledged of $22,085 goal
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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

About

Is it an overstatement to call the All Blacks the greatest phenomenon in the history of sport? I don't think so. They do things with 15 men and a rugby ball that other nations seem to find impossible. Not just when a special group of players comes along, but all the time.  

Enough has been written about what makes New Zealand rugby so remarkable. Their system, their national love affair with the game, their philosophy and - we've all heard it enough times - senior players sweeping out the team sheds. Yet nobody writes about this more positive and practical question: Why can't teams take the New Zealand way for themselves, and beat them at their own game on a long-term basis? If sweeping sheds out is a cause of brilliance, then I would hope every team from Wales to Argentina are doing it too. But are they? 

Sweeping sheds is a silly example (maybe...) but in all seriousness, most of what the New Zealand rugby team do is 'open source'. Preparation may happen behind closed doors, but the performances don't. Opposition coaches can watch every single All Black game on video, ninety times over if they wish. They can delve into the minutiae of each miracle play and boil it down to its base elements. In essence, they should be able to copy the All Black way. No?

And yet they don't. Or can't. Or won't. No other country even comes close to  producing the skill levels of the All Blacks on a regular basis. The consensus seems to be that the best we can do is try to shut them down or rattle them into losing, because these people simply come from another planet. I wonder if some opposition actually believe that the haka gives New Zealand magic powers, and it is their divine right to be the best for all time. 

Should we thinking like this, Welsh fans? Isn't that a loser mentality, England fans? Do you think you'll regain the Bledisloe by catching them on an off day twice in one year, Aussies? And come on, Scotland fans, why shouldn't you beat the Kiwis one day? Et vous, les amateurs de rugby francais, doivent les beux moments contre les All Blacks de Nouvelle Zélande restent forcément dans le passé?  

No. I don't believe the AB's have magic powers, nor that they are not of this world. And yet rugby is becoming remarkable for the absence of cycles of dominance. New Zealand just keep on being the best. 

None of this can be considered good for the game. Something ought to be done about making them beatable: and I don't mean poisoning their soup. Waiting for the All Blacks to trip up isn't going to work on a regular basis. Nor is trying to somehow stifle their magic with savage defensive tactics. The only way to match them is to do what they do, and do it just as well.     

Who, if anyone, is serious about doing this? While this South African sportswriter must begrudgingly admire the team that destroyed my Springboks 57-0 one dark day not so long ago, I feel an ever-stronger urge to challenge the opposition coaches and administrators of the rugby world to start thinking bigger. They too have 15 humans and a rugby ball: it cannot be so inconceivable for other countries to consistently play at All Black levels.  

As a professional sport journalist, I want to answer the 'why can't your country copy the All Blacks' question by way of serious interviews and detailed technical research. I'm motivated by a deep need to discover the answer, and I know how to get it too. I want to spend quality time with those in the know, both on and off the record, and pool their knowledge. 

By this I mean both the people who know the All Black way, and those whose job it is to emulate it. Players, ex-players, coaches and administrators from New Zealand and around the world. As a former BBC and Formula E sports announcer, I will be making a selection of these interviews available as regular podcasts throughout the project and, as you will see in the rewards, it's possible for you as a backer to join in the grillings! 

But the higher purpose of the interviews remains this: I want to build a manual for creating All Black-beaters. A comprehensive pooling of rugby brain power geared towards that single purpose. There must be enough wisdom and knowledge out there: it's just a case of bringing it together. And since nobody whose full-time job it is seems able to manage that, I'm stepping up. Consider it my service to the global rugby community! 

Why do I need to raise money? Well, doing such a thorough and professional piece of old-fashioned journalism is, of course, time-consuming and expensive. It would take me countless (possibly expensive) calls and emails, many weeks of writing time and would involve European travel at the very least. Ideally a trip to New Zealand too. I also need to pay to get those books and calendars printed, plus buy some good recording equipment in order to podcast. Finally, writing is what pays my rent, not a hobby. This project would mean putting all other freelance projects and earnings on hold for a year.

Unless my Lotto numbers come in tonight, I can't afford to perform this long and costly job without the help of the rugby community. Fun fact: If everybody at one of this autumn's Twickenham Stadium sellouts gave me 20 pence, we'd reach my target. Considering how much a test match ticket costs, I think it's safe to say rugby's fans can afford to help me out here :)

Your reward? The answer to the question every frustrated rugby fan outside New Zealand keeps on having to ask themselves: 'Why can't we do that?'

And who knows what I'll unearth? Maybe, contrary to popular belief, I'll discover that we can do that! 

Risks and challenges

Executing this project is the last thing I am worried about. That I can interview even the most reticent sports personalities (my experience with Finnish race drivers stands me in good stead) and write well about sports is a given: please see my video portfolio at https://www.youtube.com/watch…

Here are some examples of rugby writing I have done, which include Currie Cup match reports and an investigative journalism piece around illegal payments. These were respectively published by SuperSport, Africa's premier sports broadcaster, and Sports Illustrated.

https://www.supersport.com/rugby/article.aspx…
https://www.supersport.com/rugby/article.aspx…
http://richardasher.yolasite.com/resources/Schoolboys%20Rugby.pdf
http://richardasher.yolasite.com/resources/10_SCHOOLBOYRUGBY.pdf

To see my entire writing portfolio, visit http://richardasher.yolasite.com/portfolio.php

There will be a challenge in getting people to sit down for quality interviews with me, which will certainly involve travelling. Doing this for a silly deadline would be a problem, but this project is about quality and not speed. With a year to work on it, I'm sure I'll be able to get appointments with the people I need to talk to.

My project doesn't require any outside approval and there is no impediment to starting once fundraising is complete.

The only genuine challenge is raising the funds I need to execute the project and earn a decent living from the work. But that goes without saying...that's why you're reading this!

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    Ebook

    One copy of ebook delivered to you by email. I will make this available in standard formats .pdf, .mobi and .epub.

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    Early-bird paperback

    Catch a special price for the paperback if you make your pledge during the first week!

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    Paperback

    This amount will cover one copy of my final book, as well as the ebook.

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    Calendar

    Receive a special 2019 calendar that will celebrate great All Black defeats. Illustrated with those rare moments of triumph, I will highlight anniversaries of days in history when New Zealand went down. Because we need daily reminders that they've never actually been unbeatable...

    You will also receive the book and ebook

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    See your question answered in print

    I would pose a question to an interviewee of your choice on your behalf. The question and answer, along with your name and hometown, would be published in the appendix. You will also receive a copy of the paperback and ebook.

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    Be An Editor

    Really want to play your part in the creative process? Be among the select 10 to see my first draft and give me feedback on it! Especially suited to those who love giving constructive criticism...

    You will also get a question and answer published, plus receive the final paperback and ebook, along with acknowledgement as an editor.

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    Watch the All Blacks at Twickenham

    Since beating the All Blacks is what this whole project is about, what could be a more fitting way to celebrate my publication in 2018 than by witnessing Eddie Jones and England's long-awaited attempt to take them down on November 10 next year? I'll be wangling some tickets for five backers.

    You'll also receive the ebook and a copy of the paperback, and get a question answered in print.

    Tickets only - no travel or accommodation!

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    Paperback Signed by All Black Beaters

    I'm going to get 25 of the paperbacks signed by three players who've beaten the All Blacks in a sanctioned test match at least once in their careers. It's too early for me to try and organise this, or promise specific names, but it's going to happen!

    You will also receive the ebook and get a question answered in print.

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    Join an interview

    I'll invite you along to sit in on one of the interviews I set up for my book. Best case scenario could be watching match videos with somebody like Eddie Jones or Warren Gatland, Keith Wood or Sean Fitzpatrick. I can't promise exactly who will agree to an interview, but I can promise to make each of the 12 most interesting interviews available to a project supporter. No travel costs included, please note! If more than one of the 10 wants to join the same interview, I'll draw names from a hat to be fair!

    You'll also receive a copy of the book and ebook, and have a question/answer published.

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    Be A Podcast Co-Interviewer

    At this level you get to join in on one of the interviews I make, with your voice on the podcast as co-interviewer.

    You will be welcome to physically join, however I don't know where you live nor where I will be able to get interviews. As such, this reward has to include dialling-in online.

    You'll also receive a copy of the book and ebook, and have two questions/answers published in print, be they from the interview you joined or relayed in an interview with somebody else.

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    Select the team to beat New Zealand!

    Once I've concluded the best recipe for making a team that plays as well as the All Blacks, I'd like to select a 'World XXIII' of current players who best-suited to come together and beat them at their own game.

    I'd like to invite a few of my top Kickstarter backers to join the selection panel to discuss and vote for who would make this team. We'll have a proper meeting, which will take place in London next November 10, to co-incide with the test match between New Zealand and England at Twickenham. If you live far away, you can Skype in - no problem!

    Sadly this may have to be no more than a fantasy side, fantasy-coached by whoever impresses me most in the interviews, but I'll be issuing a media release with the team sheet and a few bullet points on what I've learned about how they ought to play. I hope the rugby media might see fit to share it - and your name will go out on all communications!

    Who knows, maybe a TV mogul will like the idea and set up the game for real...

    You'll also have the right to join one of my interviews (it may be shared with another backer), have a question/answer published and get your name in the acknowledgements in the book. You will of course also receive the ebook and paperback.

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    Book Dedication

    Get the entire book dedicated to you, including your name on the cover as primary backer of what I hope will truly be a service to the rugby community. You would be mentioned in all communications and of course receive all additional rewards above!

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    Early-Bird Ebook

    Receive the final ebook for €2 if you pledge within the first week (and a bit) of my campaign!

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