Holmes catches up with the Deaf Blacks in Christchurch, as they prepare for the first of three test matches against the visiting Deaf South Africans – the first international match for both sides. We see the NZ team during a training session, and Holmes’ Jo Malcolm speaks with Craig Haworth (Deaf Blacks halfback) who explains how being a Deaf rugby player is different from a hearing rugby player. Examples include the Deaf players relying fully on visual cues, being always aware of what’s happening around them during a game, and due to the fast nature of the game, communication using NZSL needs to be rapid and discreet.
The referees also need to alert the players visually to the whistle, in this case by waving a flag or similar, and often it is a bit of time before the play actually stops.
Malcolm Matthewson, winger, adds that he is looking forward to thrashing the South Africans, to show New Zealanders they can be proud of their national Deaf rugby team.
The team visits van Asch Deaf Education Centre and has a skills session with the Deaf students there.
Match day arrives, and the Deaf Blacks recover from early setbacks but ultimately lose 15-22, with Craig conceding it was a good game and the South Africans were more experienced.
Note: The South Africans won the test series 2-1.