Here we go. It’s that bit of the rollercoaster where the car has chugged to the top of the climb and it’s about to start on the bit that makes your stomach churn. From kick-off to final whistle and beyond, every single shred of information will be pulled from this game and the next practice, and the next, and so on.
I use the word “information” loosely. Anything that even hints to be important will be crammed into theories and half-formed thoughts in an attempt to tell the future. Like a money-scamming medium, we will be told the fortunes of our national team and the demise of our adversaries. Or worse, their terrifying rise to power.
Tonight though, I actually expect a fun game. A free-running, big-tackling game with the new guys wanting to show off. This sentence should tip you off that I currently do not know the outcome of the game.
I am writing this in the frigid bowels of Westpac Stadium while we wait for our press briefing. What follows are my chronological notes from the game:
Morne Steyn is taking his kicking practice from just in front of halfway. And nailing them. This is ominous.
We roll through the anthems and the South African one is remarkably quiet. Ours is still boring.
Must remember to bring headphones next time. Perfect for listening to radio while watching the game.
White collars, huh. I actually do like it. I will put my full analysis below, so you don’t need to see me rambling on about uniforms.
I forget how quiet rugby games are here. The New Zealand people are a stern watchers. We boo and cheer lustily when required but during most passages of play our mouths are shut, usually set in a grim look, with disapproving eyes above it. We do not like any option taken by players that do not directly result in tries. Penalties awarded to the opposition
Dear Ma’a Nonu, You and I disagree on a great many things. For example I think orange and black should only be combined at Halloween. But in any case, should be able to keep up this current level of play, I will no longer criticise anything you wear or say or do. Keep up this level of play during the coming Rugby World Cup, and you may never have to buy another drink ever again. Yours, a fan on the bandwagon.
I will admit to not recognising Ben Franks.
While the crowd participates in a Mexican wave, South Africa scores. Save that shit for the fucking Sevens.
These are some of the best tries I have seen in international rugby. This is New Zealand playing to the highest of their abilities.
Cory Jane scores the dumbest try ever. I’m mean it’s good and all, but dumb.
Confusion takes hold as various All Blacks and Springboks are injured but the referee wants to keep playing.
The crowd bays for an intentional knock on midway through the second half. They also lustily cheer as Sonny Bill replaces local boy, Conrad Smith. Thankfully the now departed Piri Weepu gets a similar roar.
Set pieces for the win (and a few forward passes it must be said. It’s like a video game. Actually I wonder if Sidhe have the new uniforms added into their Rugby Challenge game, or whether they have designers frantically making them now.
Well that was all rather exciting. The All Blacks seemed to enjoy running about and did rather well against an out of sorts South Africa.
Here’s my first impression from the press conference: the All Black tracksuits have gold zips.
Peter de Viliers is a small nervous man, who is unsure with his words. He moves constantly and while seeming uncomfortable loosens up when talking to South African reporters. His eyes look bloodshot from where I’m sitting and I find myself fascinated by him. John Smit beside him is a direct contrast. Broad and quiet and stable. He smiles as he’s told that he scored his first ever try against the All Blacks tonight. He even jokes about purposefully aiming for the smallest player he could see.
Now to the important part…
Some of you might not know the small piece of trivia that the All Blacks have not won the World Cup since 1987, also the only time it was hosted here. As such the uniforms the host team had to somehow reflect this occasion.
Over the last decade, adidas have changed the uni a few times. Well, tweaked really. An embroidered red poppy, subtle embossing of traditional designs, an awful silver away-uniform, followed a beautiful white away-uniform.
This 2011 iteration of the All Black uniform is the biggest change since adidas removed the collar when they took over the All Blacks from Canterbury of NZ. Which is rather ironic really.
Here’s the PR stuff:
- The new jersey is 50% lighter than the previous one. [How light are they gonna get?]
- The main body is a single tube. [The All Blacks are now a series of tubes]
- The seams are bonded not knitted. [The previous one was the same]
- “The tube has been augmented to fit the player like no other tube construction before”. [This is actually what the press release says]
There is only one machine in the world that can make this fabric, and adidas owns it. But don’t expect Argentina to be wearing augmented tubes. This product is for the All Blacks only.
A lot of people are asking about the numbers. They look big and “futuristic” but I’m also sure they are the same
as they have been for the last year as they were in the Fiji test. The 7s for example are almost identical. The font could’ve been blockier perhaps, or more of a facsimile of the old numbers.
Update (updated again): adidas have confirmed that "it is a specific signature font designed by adidas, and will be used by all adidas Rugby teams in 2011/12". So there you go.
In summing up, I like them. They look good and the collar doesn’t feel like a gimmick at all. It was interesting to watch and realise how normal it looked for them.