Hard Copy: Cloning The All Blacks
Hard Copy: Cloning The All Blacks
Rugby nations have stood in awe of All Blacks brilliance for too long. I'm creating a blueprint for them to play like New Zealand!
Rugby nations have stood in awe of All Blacks brilliance for too long. I'm creating a blueprint for them to play like New Zealand! Read more
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.
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!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)