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Princess of Asturias Award for Sports 2017
New Zealand’s national team and highest rugby representation achievable in the country, the All Blacks are the most successful international rugby side of all-time. With a winning percentage of 77.1% over 552 Tests (1903-2016) they are noted as one of the most prolific teams across any sport. Instituted in 1893, the team played its first international match in 1903 against Australia in Sydney and toured the British Isles in 1905. Having become an icon of the sport worldwide, the All Blacks are also considered an example of racial and cultural integration, conveying values of unity, friendship, solidarity and sportsmanship.
Current Rugby World Champions, the All Blacks are the most successful national team in the history of the sport, having won three of the eight Rugby World Cup tournaments that have taken place to date (1987, 2011 and 2015). They are the only team to have won this title on two consecutive occasions and head the rankings of wins against other national teams. Since their international debut in 1903, only Australia, England, France, South Africa, Wales and Ireland have defeated the All Blacks in an official test match. With a winning percentage of 76%, the All Blacks are among the most successful teams in any sport. Since the International Rugby Board (IRG), nowadays World Rugby (WR), launched the world rankings in 2003, the All Blacks, who currently holds the number 1 ranking, has topped this list over 80% of the time. In 2014, the team established a milestone by leading the rankings for five years running.
New Zealand competes with Argentina, Australia and South Africa each year in The Rugby Championship, known as the Tri Nations Tournament up until the inclusion of the South American team in 2012. Of the 21 editions of this tournament, the All Blacks have won on fourteen occasions, with much better competition statistics than those of its rivals. They have achieved a Grand Slam –when a southern hemisphere team on tour defeats England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales– on four occasions (1978, 2005, 2008 and 2010). Since the beginnings of rugby in New Zealand, this sport has been associated with the haka –a Maori tribal dance of challenge– which is performed by the players on the pitch before the beginning of each international game and which has become one of hallmarks of the national team.
The current squad is led by coach Steve Hansen and made up of forwards Ardi Savea, Brodie Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, Codie Taylor, Dane Coles, Elliot Dixon, James Parsons, Jerome Kaino, Joe Moody, Kane Hames, Kieran Read, Liam Coltman, Liam Squire, Luke Romano, Matt Todd, Nathan Harris, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Owen Franks, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Cane, Samuel Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Steven Luatua and Wyatt Crockett and backs Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Anton Lienert-Brown, Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith, Charlie Ngatai, Damian McKenzie, George Moala, Israel Dagg, Julian Savea, Lima Sopoaga, Malakai Fekitoa, Rieko Ionae, Ryan Crotty, Seta Tamanivalu, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, T.J. Perenara and Waisake Naholo.
The All Blacks have been named Team of the Year on ten occasions (2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016) by World Rugby, the international governing body for the sport. They received the Laureus World Team of the Year Award in 2016.
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