Earthy reminder of home for All Blacks
July 6, 2007

A special gift from adidas and the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) will make sure the All Blacks stay connected to their homeland at a purely grass roots level for the World Cup in France this year.

The NZRU and adidas are in the process of cutting a piece of turf from dozens of grounds around the country.

Soil from the turf will help to make up the gift that the team will take to France in August.

Adidas NZ marketing manager Craig Waugh said the idea behind the campaign was that the 1072 All Blacks to date were "Of This Earth".

"The turf we are collecting from clubs around the country will cover the rugby grounds on which every All Black has played," Craig said.

"We'll then be creating a very special gift to send along to France with the All Blacks when they contest the World Cup."

NZRU marketing manager Fraser Holland said turf would be collected from major stadiums like Eden Park, Waikato Stadium and Carisbrook, as well as small provincial grounds like Southbridge, the home ground to first five-eighths Dan Carter, and Opunake Beach, home to prop Carl Hayman.

The first collection will take place on Monday at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.

Meanwhile, the composite pitch will likely remain in France.

"There would be difficulties bringing it back in," said Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries spokesman Jeremy Lambert.

And if the French, or any other nation competing at the 2011 World Cup considered copying the concept, MAF was unlikely to have their defences breached easily.

"They would have to declare it and then the quarantine service would determine what treatment would be required, it might need to be heat treated -- soil carries risks to our biosecurity," he said.

Lambert said soil importation was not common although trampers and sportspeople inadvertently carried soil back into the country on their footwear.

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