Why the All Blacks are Struggling: The Decline of New Zealand’s Rugby Gods

2023-09-13 13:05:00


What’s wrong with the All Blacks? The great rugby nation New Zealand is worried about its “gods in black”.

Legend: Currently ineffective The legendary Haka of the New Zealand rugby players. imago images/Sportimage

They will roar again, stamp their feet, open their eyes wide and look wild, beat their chests, arms and legs. The famous Haka, a traditional Maori war dance, is always a spectacle for the All Blacks. But the most famous rugby team in the world now has a problem: they hardly spread fear and terror anymore.

We have lost a battle, but we still have a war to win.

“Simply terrible” was the start to the World Cup, said TV expert Israel Dagg after the historic 13:27 in the opening game against hosts France – never before in World Cup history had the Kiwis lost a game in the preliminary round. The shock is still deep, especially since the fans have still not come to terms with the historic 7:35 defeat against arch-rivals South Africa in preparation.

The All Blacks were once feared and seemed invincible, but those days are over. And the country is in turmoil, rugby in New Zealand is not just a sport, but an attitude, a kind of religion – and the “All Blacks” are a shrine. They have slipped to fourth place in the world rankings – something that has never happened before.

Head coach heavily criticized

Coach and team don’t really know how to deal with the crisis. “We have to pull ourselves together and look forward,” said winger Ardie Savea defiantly: “We have lost a battle, but we still have a war to win.” And head coach Ian Foster, who has of course long been heavily criticized, is sticking to his goal: “Win ​​the tournament.”

But at home the team is already described as “the worst in history”. A win is absolutely necessary against outsiders Namibia on Friday in Toulouse; an exit in the preliminary round is unimaginable despite the faltering legend and some injury problems.

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But experts believe it will probably be over by the quarterfinals at the latest. Because then defending champions South Africa or the strong Irish will probably threaten. The only thing that really counts for New Zealand is the title.

Former world champion coach brought back

But the “All Blacks” have now “lost their aura,” wrote The Times. The excitement surrounding the unsettled team is huge; in a kind of panic attack, ex-head coach Steve Hansen, the 2015 world champion coach, was recently brought into the coaching staff on an unofficial basis. That’s a bit like Hansi Flick having hired Joachim Löw as an advisor in his final days as national coach.

But the players are happy. Hansen has “a good, deep connection with many of the players he has trained before, you can see that in the players, the smiles and the jokes,” said attacker Dane Coles: “That lifted the mood a little.” But they still don’t spread fear and terror.

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