Nick McCashin

Nick McCashin is a former Bay of Plenty representative who has played professionally in England, France and Spain. Nick is currently playing and coaching in Scotland where he is writing and developing content for to help players excel on and off the field.

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OPINION: Why are the All Blacks so good?

Getty Images     23 Nov 2016     Getty Images

It is amazing how many people ask me, “Nick why are the All Blacks so good?” It's like they are asking me because I have a secret to tell them or know something they don't know. 

So, why are the All Blacks so good? When trying to answer this question I am immediately transported back in time. I grew up in the outdoors, in the summer sun, playing touch, backyard cricket (BYC) and passing a rugby ball around at the lake or on the beach. Like many young New Zealand boys I wanted to be an All Black.

In high school my career adviser got me to do one of those tests to see what profession I should pursue. The computer program spat out options like JOIN THE ARMY, BE A SCHOOL TEACHER, BECOME A PERSONAL TRAINER.

When I told my careers adviser that I was not happy with the answers and that I wanted to be an All Black, she actually laughed. I had this uncompromising belief that I would play Rugby and give my All Black dream a good crack. Some years later that dream has never died (see an article written here). Don't believe everything you read in the paper as I was not expecting to step up to the All Blacks from Scottish club rugby!

To answer the question about why the All Blacks are so good, here are my top 6 reasons:

1. Uncompromising belief of every male rugby player in New Zealander to become an All Black, still thinks they will be and is an All Black. There is a belief within the All Blacks that gives each player confidence, to push harder than they ever thought possible. You do not own the jersey but rather you are the temporary guardian of that jersey and you will leave it in a better place. You will perform for family, your team and the country. You have uncompromising confidence in yourself and the players around you. 

2. Basic Skills
are key at the top level. The All Blacks constantly train the fundamentals of the game until mastery. As we grow up with an awesome summer it is rarely a football which is taken to the park or the beach but a rugby ball. There is always a game of touch rugby on and most games are happy for you to join in. 

3. Humility. The All Blacks of today are some of the most humble professional sports people. They are always willing to go above and beyond for the fans. They all take responsibility to make sure the changing rooms are kept in order. They know that there is always someone else ready to knock you out of that spot or provide something extra which will make the team better. They will not sulk about it if they are dropped. They will work out how they are going improve their game and get back into the team.

4. High level of competition and pathway. The New Zealand rugby pathway is fantastic for aspiring players. If you are good enough at each level you are never left behind. For example if you play well at club rugby, when the season is over you can be picked for the Mitre 10 Cup. From provincial level you can either be picked for Investec Super Rugby, the sevens campaign over the summer or on a rare occasion be picked up for the end of year tour. Every level has a sub level of competition which brings together the best players so you are always exposed to high levels of competition. It is not uncommon to have an All Black playing club rugby when he is returning from injury. He is never feared by the club man but looked upon as an equal. He is flesh, blood and bones ready to be knocked over by the club player looking to test himself.

5. Level of Coaching. The level of coaching in New Zealand is amazing. Not only do you have former players and gifted former players coaching at the top level you often see former professionals coaching their children’s teams or school teams in a way to give back. There is always someone within New Zealand rugby to learn from and help take your game to the next level. Around the world you can see the quality of coaches we have outside of New Zealand for example Joe Schmidt, Vern Cotter, Warren Gatland, Todd Blackadder to name a few. I love it how New Zealand born coaches are the architects in bringing down Steve Hansen and the All Blacks.

6. The Mixture of European, Maori and Pacific Island people.
New Zealand has a diverse mix of cultures. We embrace our culture and the HAKA. As kiwis we feel the tingle down our spine and recognise its importance. We embrace physicality throughout the grades and we learn from a young age that this is a very important part of the game.

To every other nation out there that is trying to crack the code of the All Blacks I am sorry to say there is no hidden code. There is however a simple formula that can be replicated, implemented and used. Uncompromising belief and confidence, basic skill development, humility, competition, quality coaching and embracing your national identity. With all things equal it is not going to be easy. Once you have the formula in place prepare for the Haka and prepare for a war.

Nick McCashin is a former Bay of Plenty representative who has played professionally in England, France and Spain. Nick is currently playing and coaching in Scotland where he is writing and developing content for to help players excel on and off the field.