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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 9:46 am

The New Zealand rugby union team, nicknamed "the All Blacks" because of the colour of their kits, have had the mickey taken out of them by the Australians ahead of the tri-nation series involving New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. A digitally enhanced photo produced by the Aussies shows their players with ladies' handbags. England are the World Champions, but New Zealand are probably the best team in the world at the moment, so the Aussies need all the help they can get.

Handbags at dawn for the All Blacks

6th July 2006

Joke: The digitally enhanced photo of the All Blacks with handbags as they peform the Haka, a Maori war dance that the New Zealand team always performs just before a game.

Now girls, let's have a little less aggression. Don't poke those tongues out like that and for goodness sake stop those handbags swinging about. Somebody might get hurt.

But wait...isn't that the famous, fearsome, All Black rugby team [[rugby's equivalent of Brazil]]? That tongue wagging has always been a part of their pre-match war dance - the Haka - along with those flexing muscles and rolling eyes. But the handbags?

These images, digitally enhanced it must be made clear, could result in blood on the rugby field on Saturday when Australia meets New Zealand in the first game of the tri-nation series.

They are part of a, well, tongue in cheek, advertisement being shown on Australia's Channel Seven free-to-air network to give the national team, the Wallabies, a rousing send off.

'Australia is about to play the toughest team on the planet, the fearsome All Blacks,' says the advert's voice-over, before the scene cuts away to the All Blacks swinging their multi-coloured handbags and shoulder-bags, decorated in one case with pink hearts.

The New Zealanders are furious.

'I know it's a p--s take, but it's disrespectful and insensitive to Maori culture,' said the All Blacks' assistant coach Wayne Smith.

But hold on a moment, didn't the New Zealanders start the whole ball rolling with a surprising incident in a Christchurch bar earlier this year?

Captain Tana Umaga and player Chris Masoe were having a few in the Jolly Poacher tavern in the early morning hours after their Wellington Hurricanes team lost the Super 14 rugby final to the Christchurch Crusaders the previous evening when a strange event occurred.


According to reports, Masoe punched another drinker after tripping over his leg.

Upset at his team-mate's behaviour, Umaga picked up a woman's handbag and bashed Masoe on the head with it.

'When that happened, Masoe burst into tears and created a bit of a scene at the bar,' a witness said.

The players were then ejected by...a female bouncer.

The 22-year-old owner of the handbag told local journalists: 'I mean, a handbag of all things!' It's an incident that the Wallabies' promoters decided was just the ticket to give their opponents the boot before the tri-nations series has even started.

But an amused Australian coach, John Connolly, is determined to keep his distance. 'Mate, I haven't seen the adverts yet,' he said, failing to stifle a laugh.

And the Australian Rugby Union said it had no control over, or input into, the promotions for the Test match which, ironically, kicks off in Christchurch where an All Black first laid his hands on a handbag.

The slightly battered handbag was later put up for auction on the internet and sold for 7,500 pounds.

Meanwhile tomorrow fans of both teams - as well as supporters of South Africa who are involved in the tri-nation series - will be wondering if it will be handbags at 10 paces...

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