It was a mystery of New York proportions. I was downtown when I saw him, walking through Greenwich Village on a corner of Sixth Ave, not far from Carrie's house in Sex and the City.

He was talking on his phone and twisting on the spot, wearing beads and low-slung jeans. His T-shirt was black and bold. "McCaw & Carter & Messam & Nonu" it said in white block writing.

Baseball, basketball, American football, hockey and about 50 other sports would rank as more popular than rugby in New York. Aside from the odd tourist in an All Blacks jersey traipsing through Times Square, it's rare to see Americans wearing selection-topical Ts.

It was a bit weird to ask for a photo but anything goes in NYC and the guy seemed happy enough. He just kept talking.


For all I knew he could have had a firm opinion on our outside backs and the decision to travel with three halfbacks. But he might also quite reasonably have just seen the shirt somewhere and fancied it, never having watched a minute of rugby in his life.

I mouthed the word "Rugby".

He pointed at me, nodded and I waited some more. Then, on the phone and with somewhere to be, he up and walked off at a clip and I figured I'd better let him be.

I went to bed none the wiser, but kind of pleased with the mystery of it all. And in the morning I awoke to a message from an independent clothing label based in Brooklyn. Bakline specialises in rugby gear and has printed a new T-shirt in time for the cup.

McCaw & Carter & Messam & Nonu.

Jack Tame is on Newstalk ZB Saturdays, 9am-midday.