Sports

In Search of Total Rugby Dominance, All Blacks Coaches Turn To West Point Generals, Ballet Dancers and Cage Fighters

"If you stop looking to learn, then you may as well retire."
May 26, 2017, 8:21pm
Official All Blacks Instagram Account

On the surface of it, sitting down with some of the United States' greatest military minds, top ballet dancers and cage fighters doesn't seem like a way to become the most dominant rugby team in the world.

Yet that's exactly what the All Blacks top brass have been up to over the last few weeks in the United States, as they prepare for the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

All Blacks main coach Steve Hansen and mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka visited West Point Military Academy in New York last week to learn about military preparation and logistics.

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Recently, assistant coach Mike Cron admitted that he'd been diving into the world of ballet to learning about lifting techniques that could be used in rugby line-outs, and spent time with cage fighters discussing new grappling methods, for tackling on the rugby paddock.

"We had the opportunity to visit the Naval Academy and Marine Corps at West Point in the States," Hansen, who has led the All Blacks to two World Cup victories since he took over the team in 2012, told the New Zealand Herald.

Highlights of the All Blacks 42 - 8 victory over Australia in Sydney last August. Source: YouTube.

"We went up for a few days and had an incredible learning experience and shared some of our stuff as well. We are very thankful for what the departments we visited gave us.

"We are fortunate that we have a really strong brand which is able to possibly open doors for us that maybe aren't open for other people. We would be foolish if we didn't take these opportunities."

The All Blacks are world-renown as one of the most dominant sides ever in their sport, with a 77 per cent overall winning percentage since 1903. Since Hansen took over the reigns from Sir Graham Henry in 2012, the All Blacks have lost just four of their last 68 games.

Hansen, who has led the All Blacks to two World Cup titles, reckons that thinking outside the square is the way to stay on top of the competition.

"I'm a firm believer in getting outside the square all the time," Hansen also said to the NZ Herald.

"I am fortunate to head a group of people who are great exponents of wanting to get better and we drive that message to the players and we live it ourselves and we have programmes that we set up for ourselves so that people are going all over the place and coming back to share that information.

"Everybody is probably doing that but if you stop looking to learn then you may as well retire."