Thursday, 15 July 2010

Saturday’s historic four-try drubbing of the world champion Springboks rates as one of the best All Blacks performances of recent times. But how does it figure in historic perspective? I delved into my Men in Black to rate the All Blacks’ ten most memorable post-war tests:

1/ September 1, 1956. All Blacks 11, South Africa 5. No game in our proud rugby history has stopped a nation like the fourth test of this bitter series. It was a seminal moment. The great foe was finally defeated.

2/ July 18, 1959. All Blacks 18, British Lions 17. Memorable for Don Clarke’s six penalty goals out-pointing the four tries of the fleet-footed Lions. Almost unbelievably, the All Blacks were booed at Carisbrook.

3/ July 10, 1971. All Blacks 22, British Lions 12. The All Blacks totally dominated world rugby in the 1960s but that domination came to a grinding halt in the 1970 series loss to the Springboks in South Africa. The following year the Lions came to our shores and changed the way we played rugby. The second test at Lancaster Park was the All Blacks only victory in the series and stands out for the greatest individual try ever scored by an All Black – Ian Kirkpatrick’s herculean solo stunner from halfway.

4/ June 14, 1975. All Blacks 24, Scotland 0. Memorable because of the abominable weather. The so-called water polo test saw the great Bryan Williams score two great tries while Joe Karam proved to be the ‘bane’ of the Scots by converting all four tries.

5/ November 11, 1978. All Blacks 13, Wales 12. Mr. Controversial, Andy Haden, took a lineout dive at Cardiff Arms Park. Brian McKechnie did the rest in an unforgettable test.

6/ September 12, 1981. All Blacks 25, South Africa 22. The flour bomb test at Eden Park was the most dramatic in our history. Unlike the 1956 series win where the nation was united, to a man, against the mighty foe, 1981 divided a nation and the scars were not healed until 1987.

7/ June 20, 1987. All Blacks 29, France 9. Our one and only World Cup title. Say no more.

8/ July 6, 1996. All Blacks 43, Australia 6. In my five decades of fervently following rugby, this pearler at Athletic Park, stands alone as the most complete All Blacks performance from the most complete All Blacks fifteen ever assembled on a rugby paddock at one time.

9/ July 2, 2005. All Blacks 48, British Lions 18. Despite the pre-tour hype, Clive Woodward’s Lions of 2005 weren’t much chop but this game stands out for Dan Carter’s as-near-to-perfect-as-you-can-get 33 point performance.

10/ July 10, 2010. All Blacks 32, South Africa 12. History will judge whether this test is the one which changed the fortunes of Graham Henry’s reign heading into the Rugby World Cup. On October 23, 2011 at Eden Park, I guess we’ll know for sure.


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