Thanks to Tom White for sending me this. An insight into New Zealand indigenous Maori culture as well as the game. Some awesome photos.
A year ahead of the next Rugby World Cup, the dominance shows no sign of abating, even though New Zealand has a population of under five million and is a fraction of the size of several rivals in the sport. Understanding how New Zealand maintains that dominance requires a look at the grass roots of the game, where generations of young boys have dreamed of pulling on the black jersey. Gisborne, on the quiet east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, is a place of such dreams. The humble city is home to Gisborne Boys’ High School, a public secondary school with a rugby pedigree.
The majority of the high school’s student body is of Maori descent. The administration views nurturing a connection to cultural identity as a key to developing strong boys and strong rugby players.
“Most sporting teams strive to create a team culture, whereas our team is modeled after an actual living and breathing culture,” said Ryan Tapsell, dean of Maori studies at Gisborne Boys’ and the defensive coach for the First XV, the senior team composed of the most talented players in the school. “Our players reflect on the ancestors that have come before them, those that have set a foundation for us.”