Eli Orzessek is Travel's Digital Content Producer.

Rugby World Cup 2015 final: Australia refuse to say 'All Blacks'

It's the great All Blacks cover-up - Australian rugby appears to be playing mind games ahead of Sunday's final by refusing to utter the famous name of New Zealand's national team.

There is growing evidence that the Australian Rugby Union has issued a secret edict in the past week instructing that all references to Richie McCaw's team should be as "New Zealand" rather than the "All Blacks" - and it's reached right up to Wallaby coach Michael Cheika and his players who seem to be going out of their way to avoid using the name universally attributed to the men in black.

A recent post on the Australian Rugby Union Facebook Page was edited, replacing "All Blacks" with "New Zealand".
A recent post on the Australian Rugby Union Facebook Page was edited, replacing "All Blacks" with "New Zealand".

The Herald reported yesterday that the official Wallabies Facebook page had posted a message after Australia's semifinal triumph over Argentina, reading: "We're off to our first Rugby World Cup final since 2003, and our first EVER against the All Blacks." The post mysteriously changed an hour later, with the words "the All Blacks" replaced with "New Zealand".

The ARU's website seems to have adopted the same approach.

A media release published on the site rugby.com.au yesterday ended with, "The Wallabies face New Zealand in the World Cup final on Saturday at Twickenham at 4pm".

The last time the All Blacks' name was used on the site was four days ago, before Australia's semifinal against Argentina. Cheika also dropped the term All Blacks during press conferences following the semifinals.

Michael Cheika has dropped using the term All Blacks in press conferences.
Michael Cheika has dropped using the term All Blacks in press conferences.

Clive Woodward, the Lions coach, fronts the media after his team's loss to the All Blacks in 2005. His strategy of not naming the All Blacks backfired. Photo / Getty Images
Clive Woodward, the Lions coach, fronts the media after his team's loss to the All Blacks in 2005. His strategy of not naming the All Blacks backfired. Photo / Getty Images

The Herald has not been able to find any quotes from Wallaby players since the semis where they use the name All Blacks.

The Australian move appears a copycat manoeuvre to one used by Sir Clive Woodward and the touring 2005 British and Irish Lions.

Woodward banned his management and players from referring to the opposition as "All Blacks", insisting they be referred to as "New Zealand". His theory was that the rugby world unwittingly empowers and mystifies the All Blacks by referring to them by their famous nickname.

The former England and Lions coach talked openly about the edict whereas the Wallabies seem to be keeping it secret.

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Herald inquiries yesterday to the ARU over whether its website and Facebook page have adopted a deliberate policy of not calling the New Zealand team the All Blacks went unanswered.

A survey of the Wallabies' social media accounts showed no mentions of the All Blacks following the semifinals.

Referee Nigel Owens explains a call to Kieran Read and Nic White during the Bledisloe Cup match. Photo / Getty Images
Referee Nigel Owens explains a call to Kieran Read and Nic White during the Bledisloe Cup match. Photo / Getty Images

Woodward's ploy backfired. Not only were the Lions beaten 3-0, but after the tour players complained about having to constantly check themselves and not mention "All Blacks". The tactic also riled the All Blacks.

The Guardian newspaper reported at the time that Woodward had made the controversial decision as he "did not want to strengthen the opposition's self-belief by acknowledging their treasured mythology".

With the psychological war hotting up in the countdown to the World Cup final, it looks like the Australians are playing at something similar.

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- NZME.

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