New Zealand Culture Makes Them Better Footballers

I know we play the game in completely different time zones and mostly of the time, weather conditions too, but there are a few things that English rugby could learn from the newly-crowned World Champions.

Rugby is a massive part of the New Zealanders’ life from a very young age.

They grow up playing it at school and, while we chuck down jumpers for goalposts and play football, they play touch rugby.

That cultural difference is impossible to replicate because nothing will ever shift football from being the country’s number one sport.

But that early grounding gives New Zealand youngsters a good feel for the ball and a great knowledge of the game.

Every Kiwi I have ever played with, and that includes the likes of flanker Josh Kronfeld and centre Daryl Gibson, were really good all-round footballers.

There are lots of good athletes in England trying to be good footballers. In New Zealand, they are all good footballers.

The Kiwis know the game so well because it is inherent in their culture.

That may not be our culture but we can still look and learn from it.

Maybe, as a nation of professionals, we should spend less time in the gym and more time learning balls kills.

We do lots of good things in this country but perhaps we could spend more time practising in game-based scenarios where our skills are tested under real pressure.

If we perform under pressure in training, the chances are that our skills would be better in the bright lights of a big game.

As a sweeping generalisation, I truly believe that the Kiwis are more skilful than a lot of players in England – and I include Ireland, Scotland and Wales in that too.

But we can do something about it if we address the issue.

A certain Kiwi called Stephen Donald arrives at Bath this week.

You may have heard of him.

Read more from Sam Vesty on LivingRugby.

Watch Josh Kronfeld on YouTube, where he has several vidoes up.

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