Monday, June 23, 2014

Those Gorgeous Superstars of Sport by Joanne Hill

I've noticed a lot of writers have got, frankly, a bit of a thing for sportsmen and it hit me that it would be entirely remiss if I did not - as the lone Kiwi here - take a moment to talk about New Zealand's national rugby team, the All Blacks.

The All Blacks are "it"  in New Zealand. We do have a national soccer team, a rugby league team, a cricket team and more - but our rugby team, the All Blacks, is 'it.' As a teenage girl you might dream of marrying an All Black; as a mother, of raising a son to play for them. As a romance writer, well, it's all perfect fodder for the creative mind.

In August last year the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference was held in Wellington and it just so happened that the hotel we were staying at on that exact weekend, our usual conference weekend, was the hotel the All Blacks - the whole team - were also staying at for a big game.  It just does not get any better than that.  Sadly the organising committee will, I suggest, never, ever, in the history of writers' conferences, be able to top that again. We even got media coverage because - let's face it - romance writers and All Blacks... That's a pretty provocative headline.

The best night was after our Awards Dinner when hundreds of fans congregated in the lobby bar to await the return of our winning team after their match against the Australians. The lobby was heaving with men and women waiting for the team, the air thick with excitement, and when the team arrived back, triumphant but exhausted, even though they didn't hang aroundthe lobby area it was a moment. A glorious moment.
Over the weekend many of my fellow conference-goers shared tales of All Black encounters - some were downright shameless.  One ran up to her favorite player and told him she loved him. Another one saw her favorite, Ma'a Nonu, and trailed after him calling his name.  I gather she sounded like a sheep as she tried to get his attention with "Ma'a, Ma'a." I think she may have told him she loved him, too, and he may have obliged with a hug. Yet another tried to get into her room with her swipe card when the door suddenly opened and standing there - so she claims -  shirtless, with six pack abs, was Dan Carter, one of our All Black superstars. She was on the wrong floor.

Back in 2011 New Zealand hosted the Rugby World Cup and for weeks we were abuzz with excitement. The ABs (as we call them) won, and there were a host of photos of the team holding the trophy, our glorious captain Ritchie McCaw, the relief of a sports mad country, the parades afterwards. But of all the photos, there was one that gripped the nation in an entirely different way.  It was of superstar player Sonny Bill Williams on the field. He'd ripped his shirt during a game and because of the hi-tech nature of the fabric, had to have help to remove it. The team doctor Deb Robinson obliged as men and women across New Zealand - across the world - could only gaze in wonder at the amazing physique of six-foot-three Sonny Bill and in envy at Dr Deb Robinson. (Here's a link to an article and a video - the video might not work in your part of the world but never fear - scroll down and you'll see the pic!)
So... (Clears throat) What is it about these men, our sporting heroes? What is it that sends women and - let's face it - men, grown-up heterosexual men into acting like school kids when they're around them? And just who are your current sporting heroes? Do share.

Joanne Hill is a New Zealander who never married an All Black and, even more disturbingly, discovered her children had no desire to play rugby.
Her latest book, a romantic comedy called Dating Daisy is part of a boxed set with six fellow Kiwi authors called "Second Chances"and will be released July 1 exclusive to the iBooks Store for just .99c


  1. I think what makes us love the sports stars is a) most of us can't achieve that level of skill, and b) there's something sexy in watching them exhibit that skill. Even in high school, the popular guys and girls are the sports stars. It'd be nice is we loved the guy who wins the science fair, but watching him work just doesn't reach any level of excitement.

  2. We've been remotely following the All Blacks since they did a segment on them here a year or so ago. It's fantastic that you were there at the same time they were!

  3. Aileen, that's a vision, getting excited watching the guy at a science fair!
    Mel, yep, it was pretty neat, even for the middle aged among us...