Where every All Black was born (+interactive graphic)

By Dylan Cleaver, Harkanwal Singh

The All Blacks continuing avoidance of Samoa in their travel plans might be New Zealand Rugby's most festering embarrassment, but what of the claim that the All Blacks have pillaged the islands for talent? The answer to that question is not clear cut.

The Herald decided to put the theory to the test, collating the birthplaces* of all those who has worn the black jersey and displaying it. The data was primarily sourced from the allblacks.com and the New Zealand Rugby Museum's website and contained several interesting points.

Of the 1133 men that has represented the All Blacks (in matches as well as tests), just 32 were born in the islands - Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and American Samoa.

Of those four archipelagos, Samoa is the dominant nation. They have produced 13 All Blacks who have played a total of 396 tests. That figure puts Samoa on a par with Nelson and Masterton.

Tonga's nine All Blacks have played a comparatively meagre 53 tests, Fiji's eight have played 138, while Jerome Kaino and Frank Solomon, born in American Samoa, have accumulated 53.

That's 640 tests of value the All Blacks have got out of Pacific Island-born players.

See the table below to search for specific players or places.

Of those players, Mils Muliaina (Salelesi, Samoa, 100 tests), Joe Rokocoko (Nadi, Fiji, 68), Rodney So'oialo (Moto'otua, Samoa, 62), Olo Brown (Apia, Samoa, 56) and Jerome Kaino (Tutuila, American Samoa, 50 not out) have played 50 tests.

What we do not demonstrate here is players of Pacific Island lineage, like Auckland-born All Black great Bryan Williams, Frank Bunce, Sonny Bill Williams and many, many more.

But take that point to its extreme and neither do we count the lineage of United Kingdom and Irish families. Aside from Maori, we're all from somewhere else, some more recently than others.

Including the Pacific Islands, the All Blacks have featured 83 players born in foreign lands. Many of them were in the nascent days of New Zealand rugby and came from far-flung places like Calcutta, now known as Kolkata - Henry Braddon (played 1884) and Maurice Herrold (1893).

Australia is the single nation that has produced the most (22), the most recent being halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who was born in AFL stonghold Melbourne in 1990.

Britain comes next, with 18 split between Scotland (10) and England. Scotland. Ireland has produced four, including captain of the Originals, Dave Gallaher, who was born in Ramelton, County Donegal.

India (3), South Africa (2), Hong Kong (1) and Singapore (1) round out the rest.

* This information is based on birth certificates, some of the towns no longer exist or are known by different names. Four players are registered as Unknown, New Zealand.

Why we launched this project

Watch: Infographic explained

Video

Whenever there's a British rugby journalist in sight, you're only ever a few paragraphs from a line about New Zealand being rugby colonists, pilfering the best Pacific Island talent for themselves and leaving the rest behind.

Aside from the irony - Manu Tuilagi, the Vunipolas, Dylan Hartley et al - and the sheer ignorance of the third Wave of New Zealand immigration, it is questionable as to how much talent pillaging has actually occurred.

The numbers suggest it is probably lower than most would expect.

Domestically, there are some interesting questions to answer: Is Auckland under-represented given its population dwarfs that of any other urban area in New Zealand? What is, per capita, the best All Black-producing city in New Zealand? When will Queenstown finally produce an All Black?

- NZ Herald

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