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By The Balls: A Gripping Intersection of Sport and Politics in New Zealand Rugby

"By The Balls" is a gripping exploration of New Zealand rugby's turbulent history, as told through the eyes of the players themselves.

Keywords: New Zealand, Rugby, Politics, 1987 Rugby World Cup, Resilience, Unity. Three-Word Summary: Gripping, Enlightening, Resilient


"By The Balls", a compelling documentary directed by Simon Coldrick, Charlotte Purdy, and Christopher Dudman, was released in 2019. The film takes us through a turbulent time in New Zealand rugby's history, at the birth of the first Rugby World Cup. It's an intriguing exploration of how sport and politics can intertwine, impacting not only the athletes but also an entire nation.


This documentary is a riveting account of New Zealand’s rugby history, as told from the perspective of the players themselves, including David Kirk and Buck Shelford. It delves into the struggles, triumphs, and political turmoil surrounding the inaugural Rugby World Cup.

More Film Analysis


"By The Balls" takes an investigative and participatory approach, guiding the audience through the players' own experiences. The directors have done an excellent job in their research and presentation style, revealing an in-depth exploration of the subject matter.

Historical and Factual Context

The documentary is set in the 1980s, a period when New Zealand was grappling with political issues that had significant repercussions on its sporting landscape.

Key themes in the film

  • The intersection of sports and politics.
  • The impact of political decisions on athletes and the sport.
  • The significance of resilience and unity in the face of adversity.

Film Comparisons

Unlike other sports documentaries on iWonder, "By The Balls" uniquely intertwines sport, politics, and personal narratives to provide a comprehensive view of New Zealand's rugby history.

Noteworthy Moments

The film effectively highlights the emotional roller-coaster the players experienced during this turbulent period, making for some truly poignant and enlightening moments.


"By The Balls" has been well-received by audiences, with an IMDB score of 6.5. Critics have praised the film for its raw and insightful portrayal of the players' experiences.


"By The Balls" is a must-watch for anyone interested in sports, politics, or the power of resilience. It provides a captivating insight into a crucial period in New Zealand's rugby history.

More film information:


  • IMDB score: 6.5
  • Awards: 1 win



  • David Kirk: A former rugby union player, he was the captain of the All Blacks when they won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987.
  • Buck Shelford: A former rugby union player, he is known for his physical style of play and leadership of the All Blacks.



  • New Zealand: The documentary takes place in various locations across the country, as it traces the history of rugby in New Zealand.

Key Questions Raised by the Film

  1. How does politics influence and shape sports?
  2. How can a team's unity and resilience impact their performance?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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  1. A famous book, it would be "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu because it deals with strategy, resilience, and overcoming adversity.
  2. A famous song, it would be "We Are the Champions" by Queen, encapsulating the struggle and eventual triumph of the All Blacks.
  3. A famous piece of art, it would be "The Persistence of Memory" by Salvador Dali, symbolizing the enduring impact of these events on New Zealand rugby.
  4. A famous celebrity, it would be Nelson Mandela, reflecting the intersection of sports and politics.
  5. A colour, it would be black, representing New Zealand and the All Blacks.
  6. A music style, it would be a powerful orchestral score, mirroring the film's intensity and emotional depth.