The great Test match between Italy and New Zealand, scheduled for Saturday 6 November at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, is approaching, and there’s no one, passionate about rugby or not, who isn’t excited hearing about the All Blacks.
The New Zealand national football team is one of the most recognizable teams in the history of the sport, able to create and maintain a very popular and globally recognized brand. Pseudonyms, like hakka and fern, have become an indelible part of the country’s culture. But what is behind this name? Why are they called “all blacks”?
Why is New Zealand called all blacks?
To explain its origin, a tactical hypothesis is needed on attitudes in the field of rugby. Training is divided between straight ahead, a term used in English to refer to scrum operators, ei their backs, a term used for forward. The latter are the most technical and talented players, the best at moving the ball and excite the crowd: the comparison can be with football with the attacking midfielders or the playmaker, who is able to charm every time they touch the ball.
The origin of the name lies precisely in this characteristic of their backs. During a tour of the British Isles in the early 1900s, given the skill and technique of the New Zealand players, an English journalist reported that they played as if they were strikers: all their backs, accurately. Given the black color of the uniform, the team later became known on the tour as the All Blacks, a nickname they still hold today.
Contrary to what one might imagine, the name is not solely derived from the black color of the uniform, which serves to represent the association with Maori culture and is used in all sporting events, which is the blue equivalent of Italy. Rather, it derives from the skills and quality of the New Zealand national team, which have remained unchanged over the years, leading to the fame, charm and power of the All Blacks name.
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