Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rugby, rugby, rugby

As you know, if you follow my blog since a long time, I’m a big fan of rugby. I’m not practicing myself but I really enjoy watching a good game. Newt year will be the 2011 Rugby World Cup (it is held every four years) and it will be hosted in New Zealand, one of the very important nations in the rugby world. I will not be able to go there (I have been able to attend to the final in 2003 in Australia and in 2007 in France) but I will for sure follow on TV as much as possible.
I also try to collect stamps related to rugby, but I do it less seriously than I do for frogs (or cows now ;-)). I guess next year will be the occasion for several countries to issue rugby related stamps.
Already in 2010 New Zealand has issued three sets of stamps related to rugby. Yes three! Only one is directly linked to the World Cup itself, but still. I just received those stamps and wanted to share them with you.

The first set was issued on the 9th of June 2010 to commemorate the centenary of Maori rugby. Maori players have had an important role in the history of rugby in New Zealand. One Wirihana is the first Maori known to have played in an organized rugby game in 1872. On the 21st of May 1910, the first official New Zealand Maori team played (and won) its inaugural game against Rotorua sub-union. The set issued to commemorate this anniversary contains two stamps and one souvenir sheet.
Here are the stamps.
The stamp on the left side pictures the jersey that has been designed to commemorate the Maori rugby centenary. The jersey is black adorned with Maori imagery printed in dark black ink. The black color reminds everybody that this is from the darkness, the nothing, that all things were created. The complex design of the jersey is illustrated with several items of the Maori mythology. The central figure located on the front of the jersey is Tanerore, the god of haka, who is the guardian of the Maori rugby and who represents the warrior spirit of the person wearing the jersey. The back of the jersey is illustrated by the Beginning, the separation of Ranginui (the sky father) and Papatuanukiu (the earth mother). The creation of the world is the basis of the haka, the traditional dance that the Maori rugby team uses at the beginning of any game to impress the other team. This haka is different from the one of the New Zeland team, the All blacks, with their famous “Kamate, kamate”.
As you can see, this jersey is full of symbols that should inspire anyone who wears it to play a rugby game!

The second stamp pictures the centenary logo with a ball shape representing the circle of life. In the heat of the ball is the silver fern, the symbol of New Zealand rugby.

The set also contains a souvenir sheet, containing the previous stamps and illustrated with an actual picture of the first Maori Rugby team.

Here are the nice FDC of this issue.

A second set of stamps has been issued by New Zealand post on the 4th of August 2010 to pay tribute to the current All Black, the national New Zealand team that has reached an unrivalled winning percentage since the first test against Australia in 1903.
The set contains two black stamps and one souvenir sheet, all picturing the silver fern. This distinctive emblem was adopted by the New Zealand Rugby Football Union in 1893. Originally it was a graphic representation of the native ponga fern (Cyathea dealbata). It has been modified through the years.

The FDC is also fully black with a silver postmark which is quite nice.

Finally on the 9th of September, New Zealand has issued a set of two stamps and one souvenir sheet related to rugby, this time in direct link with the Rugby World Cup. The stamps picture the official logo of the World Cup that you can find on all official product issued by the RWC (Rugby World Cup organization).

The 2011 Rugby World Cup will be the seventh tournament since its creation in 1987 where the All Black won the first cup, beating France in the final game 29 to 9 at Eden Park, the very famous stadium located in Auckland, New Zealand. The nations that have organized the world cup are :
- 1987 : Joint organization between Australia and New Zealand. The cup is won by New Zealand.
- 1991 : England, the cup being won by Australia
- 1995 : South Africa, and the cup is won by South Africa (May be have you seen the very good movie Invictus, from Clint Eastwood, that tells about this victory)
- 1999 : Wales, and the cup is won by Austtralia
- 2003 : Australia, and the cup is won by England
- 2007 : France, and the cup is won, once again, by South Africa
Let’s hope France will make a good performance in 2011, but I have some doubt that we can wee the tournament.
In 2015 the Rugby World Cup will be hosted by Japan, quite a premiere since Japan is not one of the BIG nations of rugby.

With these three sets issued in 2010 about ruby, I wonder how many stamps New Zealand is going to issue next year!

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