Kiwis no drop kicks if you’re talking rugby

Next month’s HSBC Sevens Worldwide Series event is in Wellington, New Zealand.

Jonah Lomu, a legend of the paddock – winning 64 caps for the All Blacks’ 15-a-side team – will act as an ambassador.

“I’m on board with anything that encourages homegrown rugby and showcases Wellington at its best. This is our nation’s capital city, and in my eyes, this is the best tournament in the world.” CNN

The New Zealand Women’s Sevens squad were stoked to be the 2012/13 champions of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, and with male and female rugby sevens matches making a debut at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, everyone with a silver fern on their shirt, will give all other teams and the audience, a hang of a great game!

Men and women play on the same team in Wheelchair Rugby, part of the Paralympic programme, and things can get a little aggro (the game was first called Murderball!). The New Zealand team, with members of the Wheel Blacks, were gold medal winners at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, and contribute to the unforgettable duels that typify rugby.

So if you’re talking rugby, Godzone people will be away laughing, and the rest of the world can get in behind.


The following definitions from ‘The Godzone Dictionary’ by Max Cryer.

Kiwi Maori A native bird, Apteryx australis, which is flightless, nocturnal, tailless, ground-feeding, short-sighted and with a very characteristic shape. The name is believed to be imitative of its cry. By 1887 the kiwi was being depicted in a university coat of arms, and by the start of the First World War the word, with a capital K, was widely used to describe New Zealand soldiers. It has grown since to become shorthand for sharemarket dollars, a furry fruit, boot polish, the national rugby league team and New Zealand citizens in general. During the 19th century, people then resident in New Zealand were known by such fanciful names as Fernlanders, Maorilanders and Moalanders, but kiwi is the identifying term that has stuck.

Drop kick (1) A technique in rugby of dropping the ball and kicking it as it bounces up. (2) A loser, someone whose level of alertness is less than ideal.

All Blacks New Zealand’s official representative rugby team. They wore blue at their first outing in 1884, but changed to black in 1893. There has been no clear evidence confirming why they became known as All Blacks, apart from the simple fact that their uniforms were that colour. The first known printing of the name was in the Devon Express and Echo in September 1905: ‘The “All Blacks” as they are styled, by reason of their sable and unrelieved costume’. A belief that the name came from a British provincial newspaper’s typographical error – ‘blacks’ rather than ‘backs’ – has never been proven.

Paddock An area of open land that is fenced, usually for farming purposes. In Britain, the word is usually associated with horse-racing, while farms are made up of meadows or fields. New Zealanders also sometimes refer to a rugby field as the paddock.

Stoked To be energised, happy, surprised, cheerful, in some way fired up. The word is derived from stoke, as in adding fuel to and tending a fire or furnace. As the actual action of stoking fires became rarer, from the 1950s onward, the word stoked became more popular. I’m really stoked that you’ve been chosen to play for the All Blacks.

Silver fern A national symbol for New Zealand, especially in relation to sports teams. silver_fern_new_zealand The beautiful silver fern was a common emblem of New Zealand before the kiwi. The country was sometimes called Fernland; the Native Rugby Team used it as an emblem when touring Britain in 1888 and the 1905 the All Blacks did the same; after 1900 it appeared on New Zealand’s meat and dairy exports; First World War New Zealand servicemen were commonly known or Fernleaves and in the Second World War as Silver Ferns. In 1990, this last name was given to the New Zealand representative netball players. The New Zealand Rugby Union has copyrighted the silver fern frond, which is used as the All Black symbol.

Hang of a A qualifier or intensifier that increases what it is applied to. The term seems to have arisen on both sides of the Tasman as a genteel version of ‘a hell of a’, with ‘a heck of a’ along the way. A lot of mud on the rugby field is not as much as a heck of a lot. A harvest is obviously a lavish one if a hang of a lot of grapes are picked.

Aggro abbrev. A combination of aggravation (made worse, intensified) and aggression (over-readiness to attack), this contracted abbreviation came into use in the 1960s to indicate annoyance and exasperation. The meaning of aggro has both widened and weakened: it can indicate either a potential street fight, or something as minor as a person being a few minutes late, thus causing aggro to the person waiting. Bernie couldn’t play rugby on Saturday – he damaged his hands after some aggro in the street on Friday night.

Wheel Blacks New Zealand’s national representative wheelchair rugby team.

Godzone abbrev. of God’s Own Country. In the New Zealand context, the expression dates from a phrase in Thomas Bracken’s very long 1893 poem written in praise of New Zealand. Premier Dick Seddon boosted the phrase’s popularity. In 1906, on his way home from Australia, Seddon sent a telegram to New Zealand saying that he was returning to ‘God’s Own Country’. He died the next day, but the expression outlived him and, thanks to eminent poet Allen Curnow, changed slightly to Godzone. God’s Own Country has also been used in connection with India, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), the United States and Australia.

Laughing, to be away Indicates a propitious beginning – that all preparations have been made, attitudes are positive and the project or activity will be successful. We needed somewhere to rehearse and the community hall is available for eight Saturdays in a row, so we’re away laughing.

Get in behind A command given to (usually rural) dogs to come to heel. This broadened into a gentle and semi-humorous way of telling someone to behave properly. There are two other extensions of meaning: (1) to signify that a person or group is going to support a proposal (get in behind it), and (2) as an ejaculation of surprise or disbelief: You’re running for Parliament? Get in behind!)

Do you enjoy talking rugby?

Rugby_Books_ExisleRead these books from Exisle Publishing.

For The Love Of The Game: Grassroots rugby in heartland New Zealand by Gregor Paul and Gregory Crow

For the Love of the Game is a celebration of New Zealand grassroots rugby and the people who make it happen. For the Love of the Game takes the reader through the process of training and preparing for the game, fund-raising, the road trip, the great traditional rivalries and the after-match rituals.

Top Ten of Everything Rugby by Gregor Paul

Top 10 of Everything Rugby is a journey through international history, ranking the best and worst in lists that cover (among other things) disastrous coaching appointments, captains, debuts, psychos and scandals.

Interested in the answers to the following questions?

  • What were the 10 greatest moments in the game?
  • Who are the 10 hardest men?
  • Who are the most iconic players?
  • What are the 10 nastiest incidents ever witnessed on the field?
  • Who are the most overrated, the most underrated, the least likeable? and,
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The answers to these (and other) questions are in Top Ten of Everything Rugby.

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I have a dream

Martin_Luther_KingThe 15th of January is the birth date of Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929 – 1968. At the age of 35, in 1964, he was the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

This well known phrase is explored in ‘Who Said That First?’

Notably said by Baptist minister Martin Luther King in Detroit in June 1963, then again with tremendous effect at the Lincoln Memorial,Washington, in August 1963. The expression is simple and could have been used previously by others at other times – there is an echo of Stephen Sondheim’s words (‘I had a dream’) introducing Ethel Merman’s hit number ‘Everything’s Coming up Roses’ in the show Gypsy (1959), but such was the impact of the Lincoln Memorial speech there is little doubt that when the phrase is used nowadays, Martin Luther King comes to mind first.


From ‘Who Said That First’ by Max Cryer.

Dr. King delivered the “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. Along with Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” it is considered to be one of the greatest speeches of all time. The full speech is available for reading at The King Center’s website.

Image: Martin Luther King, Jr. giving a lecture, 26 March 1964.
Source: Library of Congress. U.S. News & World Report. Photographer unknown. No known copyright restrictions.