Friday, November 17, 2006

The All-Blacks are in France

After giving the English a good hiding, the All-Blacks have come to France to demonstrate their current superiority in the Rugby world. I like Rugby, but don't spend a lot of time watching sport,and have no intention of starting writing about it. I did, however, hear an interesting story about how the New Zealand team got the nickname "the All-Blacks". That's easy, you may answer, it's because they always wear black. Not so.

Yes, they are the only team to wear black and so never have to wear away colours, but that's not where the name comes from. Apparently, when they first visited England in the nineteen thirties, everybody thought that this bunch of sheep farmers were going to get slaughtered by the UK teams. To everyone's surprise, they inflicted a humiliating defeat on the English(serves 'em right!).

A journalist for one of the major British newspapers wrote about the match with the headline, "All Backs", meaning that the whole team were "backs", the position that requires all the skills needed in Rugby. Of course, when the article went to be typeset, the person responsible concluded that it must have been an error and inserted an "l" to make it "All-Blacks". And thus the legend was born.

I have no idea if this story is true or not, but a little research on the net should yield either a confirmation or a denial, but whatever the case, it's interesting to see how new words and phrases can develop unintentionally, sometimes just because of a simple typing mistake.

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