The All Blacks no longer want the brood

The All Blacks no longer want the brood

New winners of the 2023 edition of the Rugby Championship, the New Zealanders were particularly dominant over South Africa, the current world champions. The All Blacks are still formidable, despite two years of slowdown. Good news for rugby union as it struggles to maintain its dominance in the land of the long white cloud.

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The Barretts gained ground again during the recent Rugby Championship. Brothers Beauden (32 years old), Scott (29 years old) and Jordan (26 years old) Together they played all three matches of the just-concluded 2023 edition, with the All Blacks crowned freshers, back-to-back winners of South Africa – the world champions – Argentina and Australia.

This fraternal trio is unprecedented in New Zealand and world rugby. Never before has a national team fielded three brothers in its 15th start. The New Zealanders were able to do this thanks to the Barrett Rugby tribe, which includes eight brothers and sisters. Their father Kevin himself played long seasons in the New Zealand Championship. When asked about his future plans after his retirement in 2000, Kevin replied that he had “a few All Blacks to raise”. His method appears effective because three of his four sons have worn an All Blacks jersey. Also a professional rugby player, the fourth had to give up the sport due to repeated concussions.

These three brothers, who already lined up together against Canada during the 2019 World Cup, should have the opportunity to recapture that world-class experience in a few weeks' time in a New Zealand squad keen to regain its dominant status. He is not accustomed to losing, and suffered 4 defeats and 12 draws in 2022: losing twice in a row at home to Ireland, once to Argentina and losing in South Africa.

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Three brothers Jordan Barrett (left), Scott Barrett (centre) and Beauden Barrett (right) in July 2021 in an All Blacks jersey. © AFP/Michael Bradley

These poor results sparked widespread criticism of the New Zealanders and their coach, Ian Foster, who took office at the end of 2019 after… world Cup. The All Blacks then finished third in this competition, which was won by South Africa, their major rival from the southern hemisphere, who took home the All Blacks with three world titles.

Fewer rugby players in New Zealand

A new coach, Scott Robertson, has already been chosen to succeed Ian Foster after the next World Cup. His roadmap will of course depend on the results achieved by the All Blacks this autumn, who in particular face the Blues on September 8 in the opening match of the competition. A talented coach, Perpignan passed him on as a player, knowing that his mission would go beyond the simple sporting framework and that he would have to help the rugby union, which is experiencing some discontent in the archipelago, to restore dynamism.

The country's leading sporting system has been in decline for several years and has seen a decline in the number of participants, in favor of rugby sevens or other disciplines such as basketball. In a published analysis On Stuff, New Zealand sociologist Paul Spoonley explains In high schools, the number of players decreased by 20% between 2000 and 2020.

This decline is explained by the fears raised by this harsh sport and the demographic development of this country, which has a population of just over 5 million people. Its big cities have It witnessed the arrival of many immigrants from Asia where discipline was hardly practiced. In rural or remote areas, the aging of the population tends to reduce the number of practitioners.

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These various factors are eroding the number of licensees within the New Zealand Rugby Union, which today estimates the number at 160,000 licencees.. These are only those who play in official competitions. Other sports are seeing more favorable dynamics, such as football, which is seeing an increase in the number of fans among girls and boys.

An exciting encounter with the blues

A certain disappointment can also be seen among the fans, who were few in number during the matches of Super Rugby Pacific, the main tournament in the southern hemisphere which this season brought together six clubs based in New Zealand, five in Australia and one in Fiji. “The stadiums are empty, rugby attracts our children less and people are leaving.” Recently journalist Mark wrote why, We regret the lack of interest in competition dominated by New Zealand franchises. For him, domestic rugby needs to reinvent itself to remain attractive. Without this, it will be difficult to continue to attract young people and provide enough fertile ground for the eventual All Blacks.

In this context, the New Zealanders' performance at the upcoming World Cup will be of particular interest, with a final win potentially allowing them to regain real momentum. Their last world title dates back to 2015 and the All Blacks have painful memories of their elimination in 2019 by England (19-7). Like the daily newspaper The New Zealand Herald, which the next day chose to have the front page completely black. Exclusion was seen as a real tragedy for the country and for all black people.

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Income in 2H After earning a place in the World Rugby Rankings, the New Zealanders have regained their form over the first half of 2023. However, they are wary of any overconfidence in light of the World Cup. Especially since their first match will be against the host country, France. Who is among the candidates for the competition?. “We're not going to be in a friendly environment where everyone loves us and supports the All Blacks, we're going to a country that wants to see us fail and play poorly,” Ian Foster recently said on the Weekend radio programme. Sports. His team knows what to expect: the last time the two teams faced each other, in November 2021, it was on the same sports field and the Blues won by a wide margin (40-25).

20 teams for the title

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