Let me just start by saying The All Blacks have won the back to back Rugby World Cup titles!
I have been a church-goer my whole life. A couple of years a go; I planted myself at a church called Equippers church in the central city of Auckland. One of the main things I have learnt from this place:
‘Talent will take you where only your character will keep you’.
‘Your talent is enough to take you where you want to go, but it’s your character that keeps you there.’
Many people have risen to a place, only to stay a while before fading away, like working hard to get money, then spending it on an expensive hotel only to find out you can only stay there for a day.
And I understand this revelation as developing your character is as much, if not more, important than developing your talents.
It’s about understanding how important your character development is. Of course, developing your talents is important, but I have talked to a lot of young people who think that what makes them reach the top of the crop or be successful, is their talent. So they develop their talent and some don’t have an understanding of the importance of developing their character.
Your character can be really hard to define.
Some would describe it as the bedrock of your personality, that which defines who you really are, who you are when no one’s looking.
It links to my definition of integrity: Who you are when you’re with people, is who you are by yourself, there’s no need for dual personalities because you’re secure in your own character. I’m not talking about the character seen on the field, but more of the character displayed off it.
What I am most impressed with while watching the All Blacks in this World Cup is that they have continuously shown the character and humility that some think they have every right not to have considering their great success in recent years in this game. And of course every nation has shown class and genuine humility, but something has struck a chord in what something a rugby great happened to say about the All Blacks.
Well-respected Namibian captain Jacques Burger posted on his Twitter account of how shocked he was with the All Blacks.
— Jacques Burger (@Nabasboer) October 23, 2015
The All Blacks have been consistently number one, but I have yet to hear an All Black gloat of their achievements (although I have heard many All Black supporters gloating, including myself).
In light of this, I’ve tried focusing on the way each All Black conducts themselves through videos, tweets, articles of not just interviews with All Black players, but of what other people have to say about them.
Reading of how gobsmacked Namibian players were when invited into the All Blacks’ changing sheds, having beers and chatting away and how many Namibian players queued up to take selfies with Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, I asked myself; would other champion teams extend an invitation to the opposition to come to their changing/dressing room for a beer and a chat?
And I have only recently heard of the Georgians being invited also and how excited they were at the prospect of taking photos and becoming friends with some of the All Blacks.
After the last pool game, the Tongan team huddled in a circle, dropped to their knees to pray together. Then, All Blacks Kaino, Liam Messam and Waisake Naholo went over and joined the huddle, and bowed their heads.
Kaino, aware the Tongans were off home after that match said “I thought I would join them because faith is a huge part of our island culture and, regardless of what you do on the field, once the whistle blows you all are friends and brothers and that’s not just the island teams.”
He continued “It is the guys in the rugby circle.”
Else where on the field, while talking to some of the opposition Sonny Bill Williams was holding one of the Tongan players’ children, and Tongan family members took photos.
There have been numerous occasions where the All Blacks have shown genuine class. One of the most enduring moments was after the All Blacks versus Springboks semi-final, at the end of the match, a dejected Jesse Kriel sitting in disappointment and leaning against a goalpost, head in his hands when Sonny Bill Williams comes across to him, hugs him, and lifts him from the ground to encourage him.
Williams said after the match that he said to Jesse Kriel was “Nothing but respect bro.”
And we all know of the respect between the All Blacks and the Springboks, pictures flood the internet of players from both teams, hugging, chatting, smiling after the game, even the coaches are in some photos, showing it’s not just the players but the management who are humble and have great character.
Even in the final, humility shown by the coach, Steve Hansen walked around congratulating and encouraging his team and the opposition. They have done something no one else has done, by winning back-to-back world titles, and along the way to the title they have been humble and shown a lot of character!
I believe an honourable mention should go to the Wallabies, working real hard and being so humble in defeat, listening to Stephen Moore goes to show how amazing these players are.
Colin Slade summed it up quite sufficiently: “Just having them in the changing room, sort of brought it back to rugby, and what this World Cups about, and that’s enjoying each others company off the field, but obviously you know battling it out but then once the games finished and then it’s coming in and having a beer.”