The famous Maori All Blacks rugby team from New Zealand did not disappoint.
They delivered their traditional war cry – the haka – to a sold-out crowd of 30,000 at B.C. Place in Vancouver, who wouldn’t stop screaming.
“If we can bring the game here to Canada and promote it and get people playing rugby then it’s awesome,” said New Zealand captain Ash Dixon, “and we’ve done our jobs.”
The visitors pummelled Team Canada 51-9 on November 3 but no one seemed to mind.
They were there to watch Indigenous tradition meet athleticism in the friendly exhibition match leading up to the Internationals in Europe.
It was the All Blacks first time in Vancouver.
And it was the first time Team Canada had an Indigenous captain – Phil Mack from the Toquaht First Nation on Vancouver Island.
“I was super honoured to lead the boys out today,” Mack told APTN News. “I just try to play to the best of my ability and hope for the best.”
The half-time time show featured Maori dancers and members of the Squamish Nation joining together to perform the haka.
Hereditary Squamish Chief Ian Campbell said it’s an honour to host the All Blacks.
“They have been in the forefront of reconciliation through treaty, through economic opportunities, through cultural revitalization, and, also, through excellence of sports,” Campbell said. “They are truly an inspiration to our young people.”
Earlier in the week, some members of the team made time to connect with children and teens from the Squamish and Musqueam first nations.