I love the All Blacks - always been a bit of a fan. (understatement of the week) And this rugby world cup has made me even more of a zealous supporter if that is possible- and not only because of their skills, which are indeed 'alright' (Note the Steve Hansen-ism there) - its the way they have conducted themselves on and off the pitch that has me in awe, the leadership of this team has been, well - outstanding. How easy would it be to be for these guys to be swept way in this professional era of sport. The All Blacks are seen as one of the best in the world - isn't it great that they are a bunch of good men too. They remain humble, dignified and real. This doesn't happen by accident.
Direction comes from the top and that is why for me Steve Hansen is the player of this tournament. The culture of this team is evident everywhere we look - from the way they play, to how they give their interviews, how gracious they are with the opposition, how they interact with fans, the understatement, humility and groundedness oozes from everywhere. Its a class act. Its true his desert dry answers are gathering a fan-dom, but this man is leading from something way deeper - its inherent in him, because it feels real.
'It is okay to hurt but you don't have to be arrogant and I think rugby is a great game in teaching you some core values of being grateful and being humble.
"I don't think it is driven by being liked. It is driven by that's how we want to live. That's the identity we believe the legacy of the All Blacks has demanded from us. It is really important to us that we live that way - that identity and those values all the time."
The players have taken to this idea that good values are entwined with being a New Zealander. The All Blacks' culture is seen by the players as an extension of the system which they came through.
Being gracious and humble is not a contrived or specific All Blacks trait - it is an inherent part of what it means to be a Kiwi. (source Gregor Paul)
These are not just fluff words, every time you see this team, every interaction embodies these values. Being true to those values and articulating them well helps make this team the success that they are on and off the pitch. Everyone is on the same page. Its phenomenal stuff, quite breath-taking to watch and I am LOVING it. They are paddling your own waka. Their foundations are solid - Steve Hansen take a bow.