Madrid - New
Zealand's All Blacks were awarded Spain's top sports prize
on Wednesday for being "an example of racial and cultural integration".
The team famed for performing the haka war dance derived from New
Zealand's indigenous Maori and for fielding rugby greats such as the
late Jonah Lomu were given the Princess of Asturias Award for Sports.
"Having become an icon of the sport worldwide, the New Zealand team
is also considered an example of racial and cultural integration,
conveying values of unity, friendship, solidarity and sportsmanship,"
prize organisers said in a statement.
Speaking in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo where the organisers
are based, jury president and former Spanish athlete Abel Anton said the
All Blacks had racked up a "very high percentage of victories, which
puts them among the most successful teams in any sport".
He added the team helped contribute to "the unity of New Zealanders of different origins, as symbolised by the haka".
Coached by Steve Hansen, the All Blacks have won three of the eight Rugby World Cups so far - in 1987, 2011 and 2015.