The haka, an ancient war dance performed by New Zealand teams, is one of the most captivating sights in sport. On Friday, at the Princesa de Asturias awards, the All Blacks were distinguished in the sports category. Sitting among so many worthy people and the institutions they represent, who were also honoured, it filled me with pleasure to see this noble spectacle first hand. Rugby is also notable for having been able to preserve for considerably longer than others the 19th century values in place when the sport was born. Even now, with the game inevitably professionalized, it retains its distinction.
Not all of the All Blacks were present of course. They had a game to play. But it was still a nice representation and among the players who attended was the youngest of the Barrett brothers, Jordie, an All Black and the son of an All Black. His father Kevin, a legendary forward, was asked upon his retirement what he planned to do from then on. “Now I’m going to concentrate on making new All Blacks,” he said with simple assuredness. And he did so. Three of his sons now represent the senior All Blacks side. Barrett senior passed down the mythical devotion to a sport that in New Zealand is a way of life. That is why, with only five million inhabitants, the All Blacks have such global resonance.
Throughout the ceremony there were many sage words spoken, concerning poetry, art, comedy, science, harmony… politics was discussed as well, in a transcendental moment for this country. There are other publications where you can keep abreast of developments in that regard and I recommend that you do so. Here it is sufficient to say the All Blacks also transmitted their message. Not in words, but through their haka, the best expression of the values for which New Zealand were being recognised: racial and cultural integration, values of unity, friendship and solidarity… concepts that were also present in the main speeches of the evening.