Denis Hickie – Ireland’s preparations and the World Cup atmosphere.
Much ado about nothing. England have decided to wear a black kit against Argentina in this year’s World Cup. It seems as though the media have blown this small matter out of proportion. Having said that, there have been one or two vocal Kiwis, who appear to oppose the idea vehemently. New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key has been quoted as saying, “There is only one team that wears black with pride and that’s the All Blacks.” It must be understood that rugby is a sport full of tradition and values. These elements contribute massively to the camaraderie and respect that are so prevalent in rugby throughout the world. Rugby is a very unique sport in that way. Whatever happens on the pitch stays on the pitch. You cannot say that about many other sports.
England did consult New Zealand Rugby about their black kit and they met no opposition to to the idea. It does seem a little odd that England would decide to wear a full black kit as opposed to just a black jersey. This is what really irks some New Zealanders. New Zealand are known as the All Blacks because of their famous all black kit. England traditionally play in white jerseys and shorts so the switch to black seems a little extreme. Kiwi legend, Jonah Lomu also gave his opinion “..in some ways, you are just disrespecting the legacy of past players…”. Therein lies the disrespect of tradition. It makes little difference what color shirt a team plays in really. As long as the country’s emblem rests on the heart of the player wearing the national jersey. That is all that matters,……right?
Tomorrow the 2011 tri-nations tournament resumes in Wellington and sees New Zealand take on South Africa. There have been many different opinions regarding the tri-nations competition this year. Much has been made of the Springbok’s growing injury list as well as the rumours circulating about a secret training camp for the World Champions. South Africa effectively have a second choice team taking the field tomorrow. It is always difficult to call any International XV a “second” team. There are two reasons for this.
Firstly, the players who will represent their country in tomorrow’s game, will certainly not be thinking that they are on a “second string team”. The team will wear their nation’s jersey with utmost pride regardless of the result. The player’s will feel that they have a point to prove to the public, while also making their own bids to be included in the squad for the World Cup. They will give it everything they have, win, lose or draw. Secondly, immediately following Saturday’s match, the scoreline will be between New Zealand and South Africa. Not New Zealand and South Africa “B”. So, tomorrow’s result will take it’s place in the annals of rugby and forever tell us who won between these two teams. The scoreline will never read “it was an understrength South African team”, it will simply read, South Africa. Unquestionably it is a terrific honor to represent your country in any sport, as it is for tomorrow’s South African debutant, Gerhard Mostert. It would be a mistake to think that Mostert is giving any thought to the lack of international experience in his South African teammates. I bet the only thing he is thinking of is representing his country tomorrow.
Another royal wedding! Although it will be nothing like the spectacle of Prince William and Kate Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but, tomorrow sees England rugby star Mike Tindall weds Zara Phillips. Ms Phillips is the Queen’s granddaughter and 13th in line to the throne. The couple are due to wed in Edinburgh, Scotland and is being dubbed as a “sports wedding”, not a royal wedding. Stars from the world of rugby and equestrianism will be in attendance. Zara Phillips won a gold medal in the World Equestrian Games in 2006. One wishes the couple a fantastic day and a lifetime of happiness together.