New Zealand High Commission Ottawa, Canada
Māori All Blacks in Canada
History was made on Sunday 3 November, when the Māori All Blacks bested the Canadian national rugby team in the highest attended rugby match in North American history. A sell out crowd of 22,556 rugby fans piled into BMO Stadium in downtown Toronto to watch the match. The crowd was treated to wonderful renditions of both national anthems, performed by Ataahua Papa and Scott Newland, followed by a haka performed by the Māori team.
Coached by former All Black Kieran Crowley, the Canadian team started strongly and, perhaps aided by the 2 degree air temperature, led 5–0 after 10 minutes. Ultimately, the depth of the New Zealand team overcame the Canadian competition and they powered away to a 40-15 victory. This is now the fourth victory by the Māori All Blacks over the Canadian team in a rivalry going back nearly 100 years.
Sunday’s game was broadcast on the Sports Network in Canada, Māori TV in New Zealand, and was reported in newspapers throughout Canada. For those who missed the match, it can now be viewed on YouTube.
Simon Tucker, New Zealand High Commissioner, and Phillip Crawley, New Zealand Honorary Consul in Toronto, attended the game and hosted a range of Canadian business contacts across the wine, meat, banking, investment, media and tourism industries. Recent Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton, who was on a promotional tour of North America for her book The Luminaries, also joined the High Commissioner’s cheering contingent at the match.
The Māori All Blacks are excellent sporting ambassadors for New Zealand, and will continue their North American tour when they face the USA Eagles in Philadelphia on November 9.