Attend a Rugby Match of the All Blacks.
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The Practical Guide of the Activity.
- 1The All Blacks' Invincibility Secret?
- 2What Are the Major Competitions of the Country?
- 3What Is the Meaning of the Haka of the All Blacks?
- 4The All Blacks and the Rugby Championship.
- 5Is Super Rugby the Best Competition in the World?
- 6The Rugby Championship.
- 7How to Attend a Rugby Match?
- 8Your Rugby Budget and The Online Booking.
- 9What Is the Atmosphere in the Stadiums?
1The All Blacks' Invincibility Secret?
The public fascination for the All Blacks is far anterior to their last World Cup victory. Unbelievable, but true: the best team on the planet rugby was made up of amateur players until 1995, and it was under similar conditions that the Kiwis had won the world trophy in 1987.
The incredible success of the New Zealand team for almost a century is due to the number of licensees playing in more than 600 teams! With 150,000 players (4% of the population of the country), it is not surprising to see outstanding talents emerge.
To absorb such an astronomical amount of players (not counting weekend players like you and me), there are many levels of championships, perhaps difficult to decipher by the neophyte.
You must, however, assimilate the fundamentals if you dream of attending a rugby match during your stay in New Zealand.
In itself, the system is quite simple, but the Kiwis have the annoying habit of naming their competitions according to sponsors who change from year to year.
Under such conditions, nine out of ten guides (including on the Internet) are outdated and recommend competitions that no longer exist!
You need a serious guide about rugby in New Zealand.
This time, we won't speak of an activity (I will not teach you how to play rugby), but I will give you all the essential information to understand the importance of rugby in New Zealand and explain how to attend a match.
2What Are the Major Competitions of the Country?
It's no surprise if the All Blacks crush everything in their path... To have the honor to wear the famous black jersey with a silver fern, each player will have played countless matches and went through a ruthless selection to join the elite.
There are several championship divisions of which the highest level known as “Premier” is only an intermediate stage.
The players who play at this stage are likely to be selected in the provincial teams, and each province in the country holds a dozen professional teams!
The provincial teams compete in the great TIM professional championship (formerly ANZC). The best players of this competition are then selected to join the Super Rugby (or Super 18) teams, somehow the equivalent of the Champions League of Football in Europe.
And we do not stop there, since the best players of the Super Rugby can hope to join the mythical team of All Blacks and dispute the “Rugby Championship” against Australia, South Africa and Argentina.
We must, of course, add international test matches before the World Cup every four years.
What a program! With such a profusion of matches, being motivated is not enough to attend a competition. You can't just come and sit in a stadium to admire the show.
It is necessary to know which match to see, which team to support ... and to take the season in consideration, because the rugby men do not play all the year.
Competitions, teams, seasons, budget to attend a match ... we will review everything together. But to get to the heart of the subject, we will begin with a presentation of the Haka and everything else will follow quite naturally.
3What Is the Meaning of the Haka of the All Blacks?
The Haka was originally a ritual dance practiced by the people of the South Pacific to celebrate festivities or support a declaration of war. Far from being uniform, interpretation is free and varies according to the prestige of each tribe.
The Haka was popularized by the All Blacks team who has been performing it before each international rugby match since 1905.
The folkloric aspect naturally enchants the travelers, but the ancestral tradition is very important in the eyes of the New Zealanders.
Historically, the Haka has helped ease tensions between the descendants of British settlers (nicknamed pahekas) and the Maori population.
Symbols of the unity of the country, the Haka is taught at school and practiced by either academic and military. The All Blacks are in a way the standard bearer of this culture, now joined by the TallBlaks in basketball. As respected as the national anthem, the interpretation of the Haka is observed in silence in the stadiums.
Therefore, the Haka can't be reduced to choreographed dances before rugby competitions, and its meaning vary according to circumstances (wedding, festivities...).
From the etymological point of view the word "Haka" corresponds to the verb “to do” in Maori. But it has other names and meanings in the Pacific and the Tonga and Fiji Islands have their own interpretation of the Haka, also performed before the rugby matches.
If there are sometimes warrior words in the various Hakas of the country, the famous “Ka Mate” of the All Blacks is far from being the most aggressive. His purpose obviously aims to impress the opponent, but its original meaning largely unknown by the general public has nothing to do with the world of rugby.
The origin of the Haka is associated with a legend that tells the story of a warrior who would have interpreted a dance to thank a tribal chief for having hidden him from his enemies. If you visit the Te Papa Museum in Wellington, do not miss the very well-made documentary that revives the legend.
Here are the lyrics of the Haka, also known as the “Ka Mate”, usually interpreted by the All Blacks.
|MAORI TRANSLATION||ENGLISH TRANSLATION|
Hope whai ake
Waeuwae takahia kia kino
Ka mate ! Ka mate !
Ka ora ! Ka ora !
Tenei te tangata puhuruhuru
Nana nei i tiki mai
Whakawhiti te ra
A hupane ! A kaupane !
A hupane ! A kaupane !
Whiti te ra !
Slap the hands against the thighs!
Puff out the chest.
Bend the knees!
Let the hip follow!
Stomp the feet as hard as you can!
I die, I die,
I live, I live,
This is the fierce, powerful man
Who caused the sun to shine again for me
Up the ladder, Up the ladder
Up to the top
The sun shines!
Depending on the importance of the issue, the All Blacks sometimes interpret the Kapa o Pango far more intimidating. It is indeed a question of terrorizing the adversary in order to deprive him of his vital strength and determination. And it works if one believes the statistics: who forgot the victory 145 to 17 against Japan during a World Cup?
4The All Blacks and the Rugby Championship.
The “Rugby Championship” is the former Tri-Nations tournament where New Zealand, Australia and South Africa were joined in 2011 by Argentina. It goes without saying that the level is exceptional even if Argentina is a kind of sparring-partner.
Each team faces the other three in a series of home and away matches. A victory is awarded four points to encourage offensive game (a draw match nevertheless yields two points). As if that were not enough, bonuses are distributed at the rate of one point for four tries in a single match or in a case of a large victory.
If the Rugby Championship is considered one of the best rugby competitions on the planet, the statistics are largely in favor of the All Blacks.
The New Zealanders won two thirds of the editions, delivering tough matches but with fair-play.
The prestigious events are usually held at Eden Park in front of 48,000 spectators, at the Westpac Stadium (34,500 seats) or the Forsyth Barr Stadium (30,800 seats). But the All Blacks tests match are often played in small provincial stadiums to maintain contact with the population.
An entire match of the Rugby Championship between the Allblacks and the Springboks.A broadcast of Rugbygamesforu2
5Is Super Rugby the Best Competition in the World?
The former Super 15, now Super 18, is now officially called “Super Rugby”. This international competition between 18 New Zealand, Australian, South African and Argentinian franchises produce an exceptional level of play.
The Super Rugby is probably the best international rugby competition. Some people consider it to be even more exciting than a world cup that seems to replay the same matches every four years!
The incredible popularity of Super Rugby lies in the very offensive spirit of the competition, where speed is preferred to physical contact.
In this game, the Christchurch Crusaders have the highest number of trophies won (7), but the suspense remains whole each year. Played from February to August, the competition includes a first group stage which leads to knock-out meetings in three rounds.
Each franchise represents the major provinces of a conference.
The conferences are composed of countries (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina).
And to play their matches, some New Zealand teams cover more than 100,000 km by plane each year!
A franchise (and this is the main interest of the system) constitutes its team with the best players available in the provinces at its disposal. Consequently, the level is incredibly high!
Teams from the same conference compete in round-trip matches. Then each team plays against five opponents of each of the other conferences. In total, there are 18 games per team, half of them being played at home.
The winners of the three conferences and the three teams with the most points (the offensive spirit is well-rewarded) are qualified for the playoffs until to the semi-finals and the long-awaited final.
Now that you know the rules, you still have to choose a team to support. A Kiwi team of course (we are on Kiwipal!). Make your choice in the list where I indicate the stadium and its capacity at the same time.
|Crusaders||Christchurch||Rugby League Park||18000|
|Highlanders||Dunedin||Forsyth Barr Stadium||30800|
6The Rugby Championship.
With 14 teams spread over two levels of seven teams, the professional league begins in the heart of winter (July) and ends in late spring (November).
It is the first level whose secondary stake is to provide players who will participate later to the Super Rugby.
The technical level is excellent even if I recommend preferring an international match of the Super Rugby or All Blacks if you only have to see one match during your stay in New Zealand.
The failure of this system (more and more criticized) is to allow very few promotions coming from the lower divisions.
During your trip, the professional championship may still be named after its last sponsor (ITM or ANZ depending on the year).
Under these conditions, a good solution is to learn the name of the big teams if you don't want to feel lost.
At the risk of annoying some fans, I would say that Canterbury has the best team, followed closely by Auckland and Waikato.
Here are the lists of teams for each level with stadiums capacities:
|Bay of Plenty||Rotorua||Rotorua Stadium||34000|
|Hawke's Bay||McLean Park||Napier||22000|
|Taranaki||Yarrow Stadium||New Plymouth||30000|
Championship - Second Level
|Counties Manukau||EcoLight Stadium||Pukekohe||12000|
|Manawatu||FMG Stadium||Palmerston North||15000|
|North Harbour||North Harbour Stadium||Albany||25000|
|Otago||Forsyth Barr Stadium||Dunedin||30000|
|Southland||Rugby Park Stadium||Invercargill||20000|
7How to Attend a Rugby Match?
Travelers staying a full year in New Zealand will be spoiled for choice if they want to attend a rugby match. But people exploring the country during the high season for few weeks may be deprived of a match during the truce!
The championships take place from March to November and the Super Rugby is played from February to August...
Alas, if you visit the country between November and January, there will be only a few opportunities, mostly international matches, with tickets that are difficult to book and often overpriced!
To avoid the truce, one should visit the country in October in spite of a very unstable weather (it is the beginning of spring) or in March if possible.
I therefore recommend the month of March (the beginning of the autumn) even if the budget of such a trip could be better spent during the high season.
If you are lost, here is a table of rugby seasons in New Zealand to help you to plan your trip:
|Rugby Championship (All Blacks)||From July to August|
|Super Rugby||From February to August|
|Professional Championship (level 1 - 2)||From July to November|
|Amateur Championship||From March to July|
Of course,the All Blacks matches are the dream of every rugby fan. And to make this dream come true, it is necessary to study carefully the calendar of the matches and to book without waiting.
Even a seat at the top of a grandstand leaves an unforgettable memory.
I recommend not focusing solely on the All Blacks (which you can see playing in Europe in friendly matches anyway). A Super Rugby game, with a real stake, is much cheaper and sometimes even more spectacular. Which leads us naturally to speak about pricing and booking process.
8Your Rugby Budget and The Online Booking.
Exorbitant rates were to be feared, but rugby places are quite affordable in New Zealand. With the exception of the All Blacks' matches, you can almost always find tickets for important matches (including for the Super Rugby) even at the last minute.
Paradoxically, in this country that breathes for rugby, many fans prefer to watch the games at the pub or at home (we will talk about this later). A bargain for travelers who can buy tickets for a budget that is often ridiculous.
Be careful, the All Blacks are the exception that confirms the rule: even a minor test match will be fully booked (especially if the opponent is France) and tickets price can reach $400 at the black market!
Here is the average price per competition. They are even more affordable for children (half-price tickets) and there are also major discounts for families. I leave aside the issue of subscriptions which are certainly profitable, but hardly concern the tourists.
|All Blacks||$50 to $250|
|Super Rugby||$11 to $40|
|Professional Championship||$11 to $31|
I still have to show you the list of the official ticket offices, even if you can buy your seats the very same day (or several months in advance to be for the best places).
All Blacks and ITM Ticketing
The All Blacks matches are announced exclusively on the official website of the national team. For other competitions, take your tickets at one of the three main online ticket websites:
Ticket Master (ITM)
Ticket Direct (ITM)
Super Rugby Tickets
Things get complicated because the ticket offices are actually managed independently by each team. You will find more information on the official websites, but to save you time, I have listed the links to all New Zealand franchises.
Auckland Blues Tickets
Hamilton Chiefs Tickets
Wellington Hurricanes Tickets
Christchurch Crusaders Tickets
Dunedin Highlanders Tickets
9What Is the Atmosphere in the Stadiums?
The rugby in New Zealand remains a true religion. You can imagine the importance of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and the joy of the country after the final victory against a French team that many consider to be the strongest rival of an All Blacks team, deemed invincible otherwise. A title of double world champion has been added in 2015 after another great world cup!
And if rugby players are half-gods in New Zealand, getting an autograph of a player after a match or in the street is not an insurmountable feat. Proximity to the public is a sacred rule in New Zealand, and failing to respect this spirit could be enough to break a career.
Before the traditional Haka, you will hear the soundtrack of “Men in Black” or the classic “Paint it Black” from the Rolling Stones in the loudspeakers of the stadium.
The atmosphere before the matches is always positive, and even if one takes the competition seriously, the sense of humor prevails.
Stadiums are rarely full when the All Blacks do not play. A paradox in a country where rugby is revered.
The explanation lies in the excessive number of teams and the lack of stakes (with the exception of the Super Rugby) with rare promotions and relegation at the end of the competitions, although major reforms are regularly announced.
To find a stadium that sings throughout the whole encounter, you must attend an All Blacks match. These players dressed in black are considered ambassadors with the burden of proving that a small country can win all over the world. The New Zealand fair play does not disappoint and the whole stadium often sings the national anthems of both teams without making any distinctions!
But do not expect to find a crazy atmosphere in the stadiums during simple championship matches. In New Zealand, rugby is above all a family spectacle that most people enjoys at home or at the pub.
There is paradoxically less atmosphere in a New Zealand stadium than in a European stadium.
No matter if the mood sometimes leaves something to be desired: attending a game of rugby in New Zealand is an activity that will delight lovers of the oval ball. Those of you who are not real fans of this sport should still try to attend a match, if only to make their friends jealous.
Do not forget to buy a rugby ball to have fun on the huge deserted beaches of the country.
It will be a memory more authentic than a Chinese-made souvenir labeled “maori”. And if you meet an All Black in the street, do not forget to send your selfie to the Kiwipal team!
Questions & Answers.
What can I do for you? I will be delighted to share my knowledge with you, whether you want to attend an All Blacks match or learn to dance the legendary Haka!
- All topics ... 9 answers in total
- Haka Rugby and Culture 5 answers
- Super Rugby 2 answers
- All Blacks 2 answers
Haka Rugby and Culture
- Is the Haka violent in his words and his gestures?
Contrary to popular belief, the dancing performed by the Allblacks does not involve any physical threat. It is primarily a demonstration of collective physical strength aimed at impressing the opponent. There are, however, many variants, some openly aggressive, but rarely interpreted in rugby stadiums.
- Can we learn the Haka?
Of course, but try not to joke too much with this dance in New Zealand. Some Maori do not like people making jokes with a dance that retains a sacred character (tapu) and whose use has recently been restricted in commercials.
- How to discover rugby culture outside matches?
If you cannot attend a game because of the truce, be sure to visit the Dunedin Sports Museum located in the old train station. You will find all the history of the All Blacks and its heroes able to finish the matches without being discouraged by fractures!
- Is the feench Rugby team respected?
She is especially respected and many New Zealanders fear the French performances even more than those of the Australians or the English.
- Can we watch a game if we do not know anything about rugby?
Yes, because even if the atmosphere is not always at the rendezvous, it is an experience to live. On the other hand, if you do not like rugby in general, pass your turn!
- What is the difference between Super 14, Super 15 and Super Rugby?
The three terms refer to the same competition. The term "Super Rugby" is now official.
- How do I view the Super Rugby ranking?
Visit the official website of the competition:Super XV
- Is it easy to get an autograph?
Follow the crowd that awaits the champions before and after the game and you will have all your chances.
- How much does a black market ticket cost?
The price sometimes rises to $400 for a simple test-match, so I let you imagine the price for an official match ...
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