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All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has paid tribute to the Anzacs, as commemorations take place at the Blues and Highlanders’ Super Rugby clash in Auckland on Friday night.
New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia are acknowledging the Anzacs at this weekend’s matches.
Hansen, who is present at the Eden Park match, said although he understood the metaphorical comparison of “going out to battle” on the rugby field, there was no comparison to the sacrifices made in war.
“Sometimes rugby gets compared to going into battle which I can understand but I realise there’s no comparison to what those who serve in our armed forces have to deal with.
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“I can only imagine what the pressure of being in a hostile and life-threatening environment is like. I have nothing but respect for our men and women in uniform and that’s why I support the RSA and ask all Kiwis to show their support for our current and former service men and women through this year’s poppy appeal.”
Hansen is one of seven RSA ambassadors this year, joining SAS hero Willie Apiata VC, soldier Melanie Childs, former soldier Tina Grant, filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson, mental health advocate Mike King and recording artist Rebecca Nelson.
With Anzac day falling on a week day, New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia are paying their tributes over the weekend’s matches, through reading the Ode in both te reo Māori and English, playing the Last Post, a moment’s silence and The Reveille.
The second New Zealand match is the Crusaders v Sunwolves on Saturday in Christchurch.
Commemoration activities will also include poppy collections for the RSA poppy appeal at the gate as fans arrive at both games with Aucklanders having the opportunity to text their donations from the game.
When war broke out in 1914 the All Blacks squad was in Sydney playing Australia, and on the return trip all committed to volunteer in the war effort. In total 13 All Blacks and 150 first class players paid the ultimate sacrifice in the war.