The first usage apparently dates from the first tour of Britain by a New Zealand national rugby team, given the title The Originals, in 1905/1906. (According to Greg Ryan there was also a tour of Britain in 1888/1889 by The New Zealand Native Football Representatives).
According to Billy Wallace, one of the members of the Originals, the name originated in a London newspaper's description of the New Zealand representatives playing as if they were all backs. Other sources suggest that it is more likely that the name originated in the black uniform worn by the players, with earlier reference to "the Blacks" as a common type of nickname at the time (New Zealand Rugby Museum on this topic).
For much of the 20th century, rugby union appeared to be New Zealand's national religion, with selection to the All Blacks perhaps more highly regarded than a knighthood. The All Blacks have always been a formidable power in world rugby. They have experienced many highs, such as winning the World Cup, but also a unique low when they lost two test matches on the same day, September 3, 1949. On that day they lost 6-11 to the Wallabies in Wellington, and 3-9 to the Springboks in South Africa.
The All Blacks are one of the traditional powers in rugby union. Their fiercest rivals are the South African Springboks and the Australian Wallabies, against whom they compete in the annual Tri Nations Series. New Zealand have won this series six times, four more than any other side, with the latest win in the 2005 competition.
The All Blacks have a positive win record against every nation they have played in over 100 years of competition. A number of nations have never beaten the All Blacks, whilst defeating other major rugby powers. These include Argentina, Canada, Fiji, Ireland, Italy, Samoa, Scotland and Tonga (although Scotland have drawn twice and Ireland and Argentina once). By this measure the All Blacks are the most successful international rugby team in history.
Although entering as favourites on numerous occasions, they have had less success in the World Cup, winning it only once. This was the inaugural competition, held in New Zealand in 1987. They have been consistent performers, however, never finishing lower than fourth. They finished second once (in 1995), third twice (1991 and 2003) and fourth once (1999).
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For the latest official statistics see: http://stats.allblacks.com/
Other representative rugby union teams
- Black Ferns: Women's national representative team.
- New Zealand Maori: National representatives of Māori ethnic origin or ancestry. Historically this also included any players of non-European ethnic origin — the Springboks from South Africa refuse to play the Maori side as it is selected on racial grounds.
- Junior All Blacks: National representative team generally regarded as the second national team behind the All Blacks. The team was last assembled in 1984 until it was re-created in 2004, replacing New Zealand 'A' as the second-tier national side.
- All Whites: soccer
- Silver Ferns: netball
- Tall Blacks: basketball
- Black Sticks: hockey
- Black Caps: cricket
- Black Sox: softball
- Wheel Blacks - Wheelchair Rugby
- Black Cocks: badminton (proposed) 
- Ice blacks: ice hockey
Some famous All Blacks
- 1981 Springbok Tour
- Bledisloe Cup
- Tri Nations Series
- Rugby Union World Cup
- Super 14
- National Provincial Championship
- Ranfurly Shield
- New Zealand national rugby league team - The Kiwis
- New Zealand Maori