‘Lessons for all of us’: All Blacks make a mockery of meaningless pre-match gestures with Maradona tribute before the Haka (VIDEO)
In a year full of rancor and accusations of empty pre-match gestures, New Zealand’s rugby union team have united viewers worldwide with a touching Maradona tribute – although their generosity to rivals Argentina ended there.
Before performing their ceremonial Haka, All Blacks captain Sam Cane strode to the center of the pitch to lay out a replica of their shirt with Diego Maradona’s name and famous number ten on the back.
Cane’s side were about to play a home international against Argentina, Maradona’s homeland and a country in mourning following the death of the legendary striker who led the nation’s football team to World Cup glory in 1986.
“Lovely touch,” said Gary Lineker, the broadcaster and former England striker who scored a reply to Maradona’s two goals in the quarter-final of the competition and faced accusations of poor taste earlier this week, having made mention of the forward’s “Hand of God” scandal in his own Twitter tribute to his old friend.
A special gesture from the All Blacks to Argentina before tonight’s Haka.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 28, 2020
Pure class, a beautiful gesture. This is why I love rugby – no matter how much of an enemy you are on the pitch, the mutual live and respect for each other is unequivocal to any other sport. 🖤💙
— Angharad Kalicinski (@AngKalicinski) November 28, 2020
— Anand Reddy (@AnandSReddy) November 28, 2020
Lineker’s frequent antagonist, broadcaster and outspoken Arsenal fan Piers Morgan, described the moment as “brilliant”, adding a heart to his remark.
Former UFC champion Conor McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, was also captivated by the footage. “My favorite pre-game tradition in sport,” he admitted. “Goosebumps.”
Fans in countries where major sporting events remain behind closed doors voiced their surprise at seeing a packed crowd in the stadium in Newcastle, Australia, while also praising the All Blacks.
“Pure class,” said one. “This is why I love rugby – no matter how much of an enemy you are on the pitch, the mutual love and respect for each other is unequivocal to any other sport.”
The work they do on team culture is great. Lessons for all of us.
— Annette (@annettesjl) November 28, 2020
Really emotional seeing that
— Jackie Volosatov (@jackiev1712) November 28, 2020
And look at that a normal rugby match in the land of zero covid. Oh to be on an island led by a competent leader!
— GillSteelenson (@Squirreltower) November 28, 2020
Another pointed out: “The work they do on team culture is great. Lessons for all of us.”
The niceties ended there as Cain’s team crushed Argentina to all-but win the Tri-Nations series, registering 38 points without reply as they stormed to victory.
Their social media team also had a day to remember, earning more than a million views for their clip of the team paying their respects and carrying out the Haka.
Matches around the world, including Saturday’s fixtures in the English Premier League, are observing a minute’s tribute this weekend following the announcement of Maradona’s death from heart failure on Wednesday.
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