Get up, Mr. Buck! All Black who saved the haka knighted
Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford (All Blacks – Twitter)
Hardman all black Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford – the player credited with injecting the fear factor into New Zealand’s pre-match haka and who once played with a torn scrotum – was named a knight on Monday for service to rugby.
Shelford, the 1987 World Cup winner, was named a New Zealand Knight Companion of the Order of Merit on the Queen’s Birthday Honors List.
“It’s huge. It was quite a surprise,” the 63-year-old told AFP.
A powerful No.8, Shelford contested 22 tests, captaining New Zealand from late 1987 to 1990.
He then led the All Blacks on a streak of 14 unbeaten tests.
His winning record would be enough to command the respect of All Blacks fans, but Shelford’s legacy was bolstered by two notable factors.
The first was the breathtaking courage he displayed when he continued to play in a test match against France in 1986, despite horrific injuries, including a torn scrotum.
The second was Shelford’s role in reviving the haka. As his chivalry quote says, the attacker without a prisoner gave the famous challenge his “mana,” a Maori word meaning prestige or gravity.
While the All Blacks have played a version of the “Ka Mate” haka since 1905, when Shelford made his first tour with the team to Argentina in 1985, it was seen as a novelty that many players wanted to give up.
“It had been done pretty badly over the years… I spoke to a lot of former All Blacks and a lot of them hated doing it, especially the European (white) boys,” he said.
“They didn’t understand it. It wasn’t for them to do it.”
Proudly proud of his Maori heritage, Shelford set out to teach his teammates the cultural significance of the haka.
But only after he and compatriot Hika Reid called a locker room vote on whether to keep the pre-match ceremony.
“I told Hika, we’re not going to do this unless we have 100% membership. I’m not going to do a haka alongside someone who doesn’t want to do it,” he said. -he declares.
The result was the terrifying, thigh-slapping challenge we know today, performed by the All Blacks with such fire-spitting intensity before games that some critics argue it gives them an unfair advantage.
“Once they started doing it right – saying the words right, doing the right things, taking pride in it – they loved it,” Shelford said.
He was happy to have helped forge a distinctly Maori ritual into a symbol of national identity adopted by New Zealanders from all walks of life, with schools, cultural groups and many sporting codes all performing their own version.
“It’s pretty special when you see him played on the world stage at somewhere like the Olympics or a World Cup,” he said.
Shelford said his greatest pride on the pitch was being part of the squad that won the very first World Cup at home in 1987 with a 29-9 victory over France.
The victory was made sweeter by what happened the last time the teams met eight months earlier in an infamous event dubbed “The Battle of Nantes”.
The Blues, eager to avenge a loss the week before, came out swayed and Shelford, known as the All Blacks’ executor, found himself a scarred man.
He lost four teeth and his scrotum was torn by a stray French boot, with Shelford insisting that medics sew him up on the sidelines and then bring him back to the fray.
He eventually left the field with a concussion after being knocked out in the second half as France won 16-3.
“They beat us on the scoreboard, but they also beat us – we lost a lot of mana that day,” he said.
“We had talked about it and we wanted the French to be in this final (of the World Cup). We wanted to play a big scale rugby that everyone would love and we did it, we pushed back the kehua (ghost ) on our shoulders of what happened in Nantes. “