All Blacks

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The All Blacks are the national Rugby Union team of New Zealand. The team is widely regarded as the best team in the world. The All Blacks have won the tri-nations and Bledisloe cups for successive years, however had not won the Rugby World Cup in over twenty years. For example, the All Blacks lost 5 games out of 51 between 2003 and the 2007 World Cup yet lost to France in the semi-finals, a team they had twice beaten that year by 40+ margins. But, they finally won the World Cup in 2011, against France, winning 8-7.

The name "All Blacks" comes from the predominantly black outfit worn by the team. Legend has it that on their first tour to the UK in 1905, a journalist described them as playing like "all backs" due to the fast and skillful nature of the play. This was subsequently mis-scribed as the "All Blacks" and the name has stuck.

The team is selected from the New Zealand Super 14 franchises: the Auckland Blues, Canterbury Crusaders, Otago Highlanders, Wellington Hurricanes and the Waikato Chiefs. Only those players playing in New Zealand are eligible for the All Blacks. This is creating quite a dilemma in New Zealand rugby as many top players are leaving for overseas clubs. The current captain is Richie McCaw and the coach is Steve Hansen.

Before each match, after the national anthems of both teams have been performed, the All Blacks perform the haka. A haka is a traditional Maori war dance and is a formidable and impressive sight. The All Black haka is now a recognizable and respected "right of passage" for opposing teams.[1]