It was remarkable on Friday night to see three brothers in the same All Black team for the first time. We have seen previous families produce a multiple All Blacks, the Clarkes, Meads, Goings, Whettons, Brookes, Whitelocks, Franks, Saveas - often two in the same team, never three.

The remarkable Barrett family, profiled by Jane Phare in this paper today, set a precedent on Friday night that we might not see another family match in a lifetime.

How did the Barretts do it, our story asks? Genes helped. Father Kevin was a forward good enough to play Super Rugby 20 years ago, mother Robyn was a runner and a netballer, and quick. Beauden can attribute his blistering speed to her.

But the environment that bred them is given just as much credit by the experts. There were five boys in the family growing up on a Taranaki farm. Like all available hands on a farm they were expected to work, and farm work is hard work. City dwellers have no idea how hard it is. The physical exhaustion of farming is the reason many a boy raised on a farm does not stay on the land.


It is also the reason so many good rugby players have come from farms. In that selection of sibling All Blacks above, the Clarkes, Meads, Goings, Brookes and Whitelocks all grew up on farms. There were five Clarke brothers too, who all played for Waikato, at least once at the same time. Five sport-loving, competitive boys are bound to improve together.

Sibling rivalry is probably the fiercest contest known to man. But when the siblings play on the same team that rivalry can be transformed into an intuitive harmony as seen at times this season when Jordie Barrett joined Beauden in the Hurricanes. The physical resemblance made it hard enough to tell them apart at a glance, their upright, gliding style of running made it doubly difficult.

Rugby has often produced fine role models for New Zealand. These three All Black brothers like to be likeable characters off the field too. Beauden has been voted the world's best player on his sublime performances last season but his grin is as unassuming as before. Scott and Jordie look to be similar.

It takes well-grounded young men to handle the adulation (and criticism) accorded an All Black in New Zealand. May the Barretts light up our rugby for as long as they can.