HOUSTON (Reuters) - Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn will look just about anywhere for a winning edge ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl in Houston, and said he has been hugely inspired by the extraordinary legacy of the New Zealand rugby team.
Widely known as the All Blacks, New Zealand's rugby players have established themselves as one of the most successful teams of all time in any sport, and Quinn has long looked at rugby for extra insight into tackling techniques in the National Football League.
"I did read an interesting book last year about the New Zealand rugby team, the All Blacks, and the culture they've had, the winning they've had," Quinn told reporters as the Falcons continued their preparations for the NFL’s championship game against the New England Patriots.
"I've studied rugby from tackling and it's been a driving influence on our leverage tackling, using our shoulder tackle, keeping our head out. So, my interest for rugby was already there.
"And then when I found out more about their (New Zealand rugby) culture, what they stood for, how they had long-term success for years and years, that book of legacy was certainly one that left a big impression on me."
The All Blacks have won nearly 79 percent of their 552 test matches since 1903, significantly higher than South Africa, who have the second-best record, winning 65 percent of their 464 tests.
New Zealand's winning percentage has exceeded 80 percent since rugby turned professional in 1995 but their successful culture can be traced directly back to the 1905 'Originals' and 1924 'Invincibles' teams, the start of a winning ethos that has been passed down through the years from player to player.
A small South Pacific country of less than 4.8 million people, New Zealand has dominated world rugby over the decades and their international team is the only one with a winning record against all opponents.
"Someday, I will make that trip over there to see them compete and play," said Quinn, who is the former defensive coordinator for the Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks.
"That's how strongly I felt about just reading about them. I haven't had any interaction with them up to now, but it was definitely a book that captured me."
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Andrew Both)