Welcome to Blackadderville - enjoy your stay
July 19, 2000

A New Zealand town has been renamed 'Blackadderville' for the week in honour of All Black rugby captain and local product Todd Blackadder.

Signposts to the town of Rangiora - north of Christchurch - have been changed to read 'Blackadderville' although plans to make the modest 28-year-old mayor have been shelved.

The unassuming lock was made All Black captain this year after being overlooked for several seasons during which time he led the Canterbury Crusaders to a hat-trick of titles in the Super 12 competition.

He became a celebrity for many New Zealanders, emerging as the people's choice to captain the side after the All Blacks' disappointing World Cup semi-final defeat by France.

Blackadder will lead out the All Blacks at his Crusaders home ground in Christchurch for the first time on Saturday in the Tri Nations test against South Africa.

The player - who was born and bred in the farming community of Rangiora, 30 minutes' drive north of Christchurch - took his All Black squad to the town on Wednesday.

"Todd is the epitome of what we would all like to be," local councillor Beverly Shepherd-Wright said. "He is strong in character and spirit and brings a cohesion to the team while remaining very humble."

A pub in the town has a giant mural of Blackadder on one of its external walls while shops and staff in Rangiora (population 12,000) have decked themselves in New Zealand's rugby colours of black and silver for the week.

However they have respected the team's wishes not to invest Blackadder as mayor.

"That's a measure of the man - that he wanted the focus not to be on him but on the team in the build-up to the test," said organiser John Stokes. "We respect the management's wishes but we've had a mayoral badge cast and we will present it to him at a more appropriate time."

The modest Blackadder - who still lives in the area and visits the local rugby club whenever he has time - has clearly been a little embarrassed by the attention.

"I'm just concentrating on preparing for the match," he said in time-honoured tradition.

Brought to you by AAP

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