Friday, October 31, 2014

The All Blacks Are Coming To Town!!

On Saturday we get to enjoy an very rare treat.  The greatest Rugby Union team in the world is playing here in the United States--almost in our own backyard.  The New Zealand All Blacks (don't worry liberals, the team is named for its all black jerseys--or "kits"--not for the color of its players.  Think of the Cincinnati Reds or the Stanford Cardinal) will be taking on the United States Eagles in an international "friendly" Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field in Chicago.

For those of us who love international rugby, this is a HUGE deal.  The All Blacks have not played in the United States since 1980.  They are on an international tour this year to promote the upcoming 2015 Rugby World Cup--which will be played in England--but would desperately love to get into US markets in the future.  New Zealand is to rugby what Brazil is to soccer or the United States is to basketball--they are far and away the best at the sport and they are the most passionate about it as well.  And they have a large following around the globe--including here in the US.

The All Blacks also bring with them one of the oldest and most beloved traditions in sports: The pre-match Haka--a mix of dance, chant, threat and challenge to their opponents at mid-field that pays tribute to the county's Maori native population:

Here in the United States, a team doing that would be penalized to start the game and players would likely be suspended. 

Team USA is likely going to get smoked in this game.  Like in soccer, the US in rugby is seen as a potential powerhouse--but the sport just can't gain any traction--since those who would be unstoppable view football as the better alternative because it can get you into college for free and get you paid big bucks in the NFL.  But imagine little English guys or Aussies trying to tackle JJ Watt or Melvin Gordon or Percy Harvin on a larger field and with no pads or helmets on.

I would love to be there in person for the game--but I can't (stupid household chores I promised I would do before winter!!).  However, NBC will have televise the game live!! (I need to take a break for a few minutes here, Honey).  It kicks off at 2:30--right after the Badgers wrap up their butt kicking of Rutgers.  I hope you can check it out.  I think you'll enjoy what you see.


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