Graham Henry, along with Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith, will be coaching the All Blacks during the 2004 season. I don't know much about any of these coaches, although I have heard nothing but praise for Smith and many complaints about Henry after he "stuffed up a Lions tour". I don't actually know anything else about the incident though. Henry & Co. have 2 tests to prove themselves...
NZ's national rugby union team is known as the mighty New Zealand All Blacks! Here's a few facts about them.
All Blacks Squad 2003
Coach: John Mitchell (I DON'T LIKE HIM!)
Captain: Reuben Thorne (he's an all right captain but I reckon it should have been Tana)
Vice-Captain: Tana Umaga*
* Was replaced at vice-captain by Carlos Spencer when Tana was injured in the ABs' first pool match.
Forwards: Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Carl Hoeft, Chris Jack, Corey Flynn, (bit young isn't he?) Daniel Braid, (good tackler but dunno what's so brilliant about him) Dave Hewett, Greg Somerville, Jerry Collins, Kees Meeuws, Keven Mealamu, Mark Hammett, Marty Holah, Reuben Thorne, Richard McCaw and Rodney So'oialo.
Backs: Aaron Mauger, Ben Blair, (replaced by Ben Atiga, hey Mitch I guess this means you're saying that Christian Cullen is, at best, only the number 6 fullback in NZ!) Byron Kelleher, (not too bad I suppose, though I had earlier doubts) Caleb Ralph, Carlos Spencer, (utterly brilliant, even if his goalkicking is a bit on-off) Dan Carter, Doug Howlett, (amazing winger) Joe Rokocoko, (the Try Machine! He is so fast) Justin Marshall, Leon MacDonald, (ok, good goalkicking) Ma'a Nonu, (should have played centre in Tana's place, instead of Leon) Malili (Mils) Muliaina, Steve Devine, and Tana Umaga.
This year the All Blacks have played brilliantly, despite questionable selections by John Mitchell. We have finally regained the Bledisloe Cup (named for Lord Bledisloe, often called Lord-Bloody-Slow due to his lengthy speeches) and the Tri-Nations Cup from the Aussies, after we "lent" it to them for 5 years. We won every game in the Tri-Nations this year, the most memorable defeating Australia 50 - 21 on their home grounds too. That's the highest score we've ever achieved against them in Australia. We also beat South Africa 52 - 16 in our first match against them, but to be honest (and to pity them) they weren't playing as well as they should have been. Maybe they just had a bad day? They really pulled it up for our last match against them which we won only 18 - 11. And the deciding match of the Tri-Nations was played in NZ, against the Aussies, which we won 21 - 17.
We played 3 test matches before the Tri-Nations, winning all but our first game. We played England, and they won 16 - 13. Not bad, considering we were getting used to playing with so many new guys. We beat France of course, with the try machine Rokocoko scoring a hat trick of tries. We also played Wales, beating them easily. No surprise, they haven't beaten the All Blacks in 50 years.
The Rugby World Cup has just finished and for the first time ever the Ellis Cup hasleft the Southern Hemisphere. Yes, that's right everyone, England won. And no, it wasn't a New Zealand-England final like I had thought all along. Somehow, we were knocked out of the competition after losing to AUSTRALIA in the semis. Our last game was the 3rd/4th playoff against France, which we won 40 - 13, placing us third in the RWC. I've no idea how the Hell that happened but hey, 2007 is only four years away. It'll be held in France.
Hey you know what? If I DO get to go, I reckon all those French classes I take just might pay off after all...