Deaf Blacks gear up for trans-Tasman rugby clash
Posted on 10/06/2015
Author: HANNAH MCKEE | Photographer: HAGEN HOPKINS
From left, Ben Webb, Kamau Wise, Darryl Alexander and Theodore Waterhouse are members of the Deaf Blacks, who will take on Australia's Silent Knights on Sunday.
They wear black jerseys with pride, they have a cup to defend this year, and their coach reckons they are near unbeatable.
The Deaf Blacks, New Zealand's representative deaf rugby team, will defend their Cochlear Cup title against Australia's Silent Knights on Sunday.
Darryl Alexander, who was born deaf, is one of eight Wellington players on the team of 32.
Deaf Blacks player Darryl Alexander wants to make sure his team hold onto the Cochlear Cup.
The 32-year-old has played eight tests with the Deaf Blacks and was the team's vice-captain in 2005. He also works as a teacher of the deaf, and lives in Paparangi with his wife and two boys, aged 4 and 2.
As a child, Alexander was more focused on playing football, but enjoyed watching rugby matches with his family.
He became interested in deaf rugby as a teenager in 1998, when the annual National Deaf Rugby Championship was held in Wellington.
"I joined the national tournament in 2001 playing on the wing. The selectors were impressed and selected me for the Deaf Blacks at the age of 18. Playing rugby took off from there."
He also enjoys playing football, cricket, basketball and table tennis.
"There are many deaf sports teams and individuals successfully achieving their dreams.
"I feel blessed representing my country. I wear the black jersey with pride and knowing that the silver fern stands out of my chest is a huge honour to bear. It is something that I am always grateful for."
Deaf Blacks head coach Colin Hammond, who is not hearing-impaired, says trans-Tasman sporting rivalry is just as rife in deaf rugby as it is in hearing rugby.
But currently, neither country is on top. The world champions are Wales.
Hammond, who will also accompany the team on a tour to Japan in November, says: "It's a real experience, it's absolute fun being able to coach these guys. They're a big team, big as in big guys, but they're fit and fast and, in my opinion, I think we are pretty unbeatable."
Alexander says the best thing about being in the Deaf Blacks is the team's bond.
"We've become life-long friends and the memories are always celebrated and cherished ... this is an exciting time for New Zealand Deaf Rugby."
New Zealand Deaf Blacks vs Australia Silent Knights. Christchurch Park, Sunday, June 14, kickoff 1pm.