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THE NEW ZEALAND RUGBY UNION., Star, Issue 8568, 9 March 1906
THE NEW ZEALAND RUGBY UNION.
(Britith-Australasian.) • The Maorilanders came here heralded . by no loud nourish of trumpets. A few » of the more enterprising newspapers > published their names and weights, said ' they were a likely-looking lot of young > **"* n , and had gone into training at the I little town of Newton Abbot. Then we . heard no more of them until the match , with Devonshire. The only people who • I?° an y interest in their doings were ' /S. 8Ur P ri s«^ inhabitants of Newton Abbot, who watched them taking pipe . openers and loosening their muscles m | open-mouthed wonder. But even these : abook_ their heads over the prospect of .onoounter with so redoubtable a team as Devonshire. Indeed, the oldest inhabitant was deputed to convey to the , ' f** Zealanders som© idea of the hopey- iewnees of their task and the ejmf pathy f«it ty Newton Abbot with new-
comers destined to so unfortunate a preliminary experie-nce. There was wild surprise in Newton Abbot that night when the news v/as flashed around that the New Zealanders had not only beaten Devonshire, but had piled up the gigantic score of fifty-five points to four. The quiet little town rose to the occasion, and when the triumphant New Zealanders returned to their training quarters, they found the place transformed. It was nearly midnight, but they were received with a brass band and a torchlight procession. Newton Abbot was not the only surprised community in Great Britain. Rugby football was shaken to its base. The newspaper men launched into a discussion, which has lasted ever since, mainly endeavouring to decide whether this tiling had been brought about by methods or by men. Two further victorias, over Cornwall and Bristol, where ' forty-one points were scored against nothing in each match, spread the interest from the select few in the Rugby world to the general public. The " Daily Mail," in search of a new sensation, opened wide. its fickle arms, and took the newcomers t*> ite capacious bosom. They marched in triumph through the provinces, and, as a climax, made their first appearance in London by beating Middlesex by thirty-four points to nothing, a score that could easily have been increased by 50 per cent. Then they became the rage. Their popularity was . not solely due to their remarkable success. There were picturesque elements in the tour, upon which -ac avid newspaper men quickly fastened, recognising their use for headline purposes. Thus, the uniform of sombre black, relieved only by a silver fern leaf, 1 provided a number of handy nicknames, one of which, the "All 'Blacks," has achieved a lasting popularity. Then the war song in Maori with a solo by their leader and a wild chorus by the whole team, emphasised by furious gesticulations and dancing, was a- thing of which British crowds have never tired. Many attempts were made to encore the performance, and on the few occasions when it was omitted, people Avent away disappointed, feeling that they had not really seen the New Zealanders. Another factor stimulating to public interest was the wise reticencej amounting almost to a mysteri- . ous silence, preserved by the tactful manager or the team, Mr Dixon. Add to this the facb that the team travelled with the- paternal benediction of Mr Seddon, the one colonial statesman who appeals to the imagination of the great British public, and you have all the factors of a gigantic public success. One thing more needs to be said, and it goes to the address of the Australian cricketers. There has never been a , doubt as to the amateur status of the men who wore the fern leaf. They were rot over here to make money for themselves, and thus escaped the suspicion of monkey tricks. The great British public dearly loves a true amateur, and invariably suspects a mock amateur, having excellent reason for its preferences. Nobody grudged the prices, ; sometimes rather excessive, that had to be paid to see the Maorilanders play. A tour as free from taint as this one cannot fail to be successful, so long as the tourists display a reasonable amount* • of skill. The team's excellence and un--1 selfishness displayed in this instance • have won golden opinions for the All • Blacks, and they carry away with them a load of good will which they could never have collected if they^ had been , sharing in the profits of the tour. There . have been, it is true, Press criticisms . levelled at some of their methods of ELay, especially in Wales, where games aye been close and partisan feeling has , run high. But these criticisms will have been forgotten in a week or two, while the splendid record of the visitors, their manly fairness and good temper, and their mighty individual achievements, ' will remain an undying memory.
THE NEW ZEALAND RUGBY UNION., Star, Issue 8568, 9 March 1906
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