Time British scribes got their facts right

Last updated 00:00 12/09/2007

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It's always good to get your shots in early. So before the [mostly British] scribes starting writing about how the All Blacks are the Pacific Barbarians and the NZRU pillages the southern seas, here's a few facts.

Five All Blacks were born in Samoa - Jerry Collins, Rodney So'oialo, Chris Masoe, Mils Muliaina and Isaia Toeava - and 12 of the Samoa squad were born in New Zealand.

It might be asked, tongue firmly in the cheek, who is pillaging from whom.

Add in Fijian-born wings Joe Rokocoko and Sitiveni Sivivatu, and Tonga's Sione Lauaki, and the All Blacks tally rises to eight.

That's still fewer than the number of "Kiwis" in the Samoa squad, and at least eight more Samoans have played first class rugby in New Zealand.

Their coach, All Blacks great Michael Jones, was also born in New Zealand, while assistant coach Pita Fatialofa was a Ponsonby and Auckland stalwart.

Japan are coached by another All Blacks legend, John Kirwan, who coached Italy at the last World Cup.

Throughout the 20 World Cup squads in France are 24 players who were born in New Zealand and who are not in the All Blacks. Many are well known as they have played in the Super 14 or NPC.

Others have household surnames like the Whakatane born Hayden Mexted who plays for USA, a team coached by North Harbour's Peter Thorburn.

The attacks on the racial make up of the All Blacks have always conveniently ignored the immigration trends of Pacific Islanders moving to New Zealand and the diverse cultural mix in our major cities.

Critics also gloss over the fact many of the All Blacks born in Fiji, Tonga or Samoa moved with their families to New Zealand when they were young Muliaina, for instance, was just three.

Such facts won't stop the claims the All Blacks have gained an unfair advantage by poaching players from the islands, especially when such critics begin to fear New Zealand might win the World Cup.

But then those writers have never let the truth get in the way of a 'good' story.

  • When the All Blacks met Zinedine Zidane at their hotel on Marseille's superb beach front a young French lad was in such awe as he was invited to meet the footballing legend that he walked through the hotel spa pool to get there.

  • Italy might have been poor in their 76-14 loss to the All Blacks on Saturday but their coach, former French halfback Pierre Berbizier, was in superb from afterwards as he answered questions in French, English and Italian.

  • Tonga's Epi Taione has changed his name for the duration of the World Cup to Paddy Power, the brand of an Irish bookmaker sponsoring his team. The Tongan player wants to score a try against England in Tonga's final pool game on September 28. Paddy Power (the bookmaker) has set odds of 7-1 on its namesake delivering.

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    The Tongans also made headlines when they sat down to a lunch of 30 roast chickens, 27.2 kilograms of roast lamb, 27.2 kilograms of roast beef, 13.6kg of pasta and 13.6kg of potato salad.

    They washed it down with 40 litres of orange juice at the Fusion Inn for an English pub lunch last week.

    That's more than a quarter of a million calories and nearly 10,000g of fat consumed by the squad at the pub in Lymington, Hampshire.

    It's owned by former Tonga captain Isi Tuivai who called in two extra chefs and three extra waiters to deal with the scrum.

    Tonga's heaviest player is 29-year-old prop forward Mosese Moala, who is listed in the media guide as tipping the scales at 135kgs.

  • Quote: "It was the worst performance in a long time, very, very poor," Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan sums up his team's effort in their 32-17 win against Namibia.

    - Stuff

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