Top Document: The soc.culture.new-zealand FAQ
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We are basically mad about sports in NZ. Many weekend activities are based around some form of organised sport. NZ has generated some of the finest sports people in the world. A very few are listed in the section on Famous New Zealanders (C5.6). -------------------- C4.1.1 Why do New Zealander Sportspeople Wear Black? Dave Frame wrote: "Around that time (don't know if it was before or after the change) they played against some British [rugby] team and a correspondent wired his paper in his report to say that the NZers played like they were "all backs", meaning they were heaps more mobile than their British counterpart (that should sound familiar to anyone who's seen the RWC this year). Anyway, somehow it got messed up in the wiring process and it got printed as "all blacks" and the name stuck." And Brian Dooley confirmed; "The first story here is close enough to the truth if "An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand" is to be believed. The story was reputedly confirmed by one of the last living members of the team." and Lin Nah adds: "It used to refer to athletes representing NZ as well. I think the change (with respect to NZ athletes) occured in the 1994 Commonwealth Games and the Olympics." Brian Sorrell 'complicates' things with: "Soccer (and sometimes cricket) are about the only team sports that don't. Can't remember what the hockey team (hockeyers? hockeyists?) wear. "But it did all begin with rugby. The story (as I recall it) was that it arose from when the first NZ rugby team toured Britain (the 1905 team?) with far more success than either they or the British expected. A British sports journalist, impressed by the NZers unconventional style of play, wrote that they played as if they were "all backs" (referring to the speed and mobility of the forwards, a tradition continued to this day). A printer's error converted this to "all blacks", the name stuck, and an all-black uniform was adopted. "I think I read this some years ago in, if memory serves right, N.A.C. McMillan's bible of All Black history, "Men in Black." So I don't think it's apocryphal (although if it is, it's a good yarn anyway :-))."