Traditionalists and fashionistas both had cause to celebrate when the All Blacks emerged for their first match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Banishing the multi-coloured array of neon boots that have taken the edge of the New Zealander’s menacing look in recent seasons, Richie McCaw’s team wore completely black boots.
Combined with the recent greying of their crest and the hoops on their socks, New Zealand have never looked so dark.
As expected, Twitter was quick on the uptake and praise was almost universal.
All Blacks are the coolest, most intimidating sporting team on the planet. Black on black kit, all wearing black boots. Awesome. #allblacks
— Rhys Weston (@rhysweston1980) September 20, 2015
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All blacks players being made to wear all black boots along with kit is the most satisfying thing I’ve ever witness
— Harry Stockton (@harrystockton97) September 20, 2015
Former England World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward said New Zealand set the standard for team culture.
Very interesting to see All Blacks all wearing All Black boots – all the talk about culture and team work these guys still set the standard
— Sir Clive Woodward (@CliveWoodward) September 20, 2015
History of black
Whilst New Zealand have always worn black, their name is thought to actually come from a corruption of a journalist’s comment that the team, during their inaugural tour of 1905, played like they were ‘all backs’.
For most of the 20th century New Zealand’s kit had a white collar and the socks were topped by white hoops – usually two. Adidas have slowly blackened the kit in the last two decades, most often by removing the white collar. Much to the annoyance of the staunchest of traditionalists, Adidas changed the two-hoop sock pattern to three hoops – thereby fitting in with their brand image.
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The creep of neon boots into the side by several players in recent years had spolit the image of the All Blacks for many. So the return to old-fashioned boots is sure to delight legions of old-school fans.
As well as the slick new black look, New Zealand also unveiled a new haka ‘arrow’ formation for the World Cup.
Here comes the Haka! McCaw standing in front. Arrow formation. Like the French in #RWC2011 Final. Mealamu leading. #NZLvARG #RWC2015
— iamjonnyking™ (@iamjonnyking) September 20, 2015
Whatever happens in the rest of the tournament, nobody is going to look quite as sharp as the Kiwis.