Tag Archive: New Zealand


Friendly reunion it was not, but New Zealand fans relished seeing Richie McCaw back in black (Image | AP)

Friendly reunion it was not, but New Zealand fans relished seeing Richie McCaw back in black (Image | AP)

The Rugby Championship began this weekend in Sydney with an emphatic 47-29 victory for New Zealand, underlining once again their dominance since the Rugby World Cup of 2011.

The Kiwis welcomed back talismanic captain Richie McCaw and although he was received in typically robust style by the Australian forward pack, his ability in the rucks and in the loose was immense.

His return from a sabbatical from rugby following the 2012 autumn international loss against England galvanised the team to victory in the first Bledisloe Cup Test of 2013.

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The first two tests were resigned to draws after weather forced New Zealand, and then England, into accepting a stalemate where they would otherwise have cantered to victory.

Prior commitment | England captain Alastair Cook embraces Matt Prior after his century against New Zealand. (Image | The Telegraph)

Prior commitment | England captain Alastair Cook embraces Matt Prior after his century against New Zealand. (Image | The Telegraph)

As a result, the series came down to the third and final test on an exceptionally flat pitch at Eden Park in Auckland.

Surely England, so recently victorious in India and sitting second in the ICC world rankings, could beat a New Zealand side down in eighth that have only beaten Bangladesh and Zimbabwe since 2006?

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Reviewing the autumn internationals

The Autumn Internationals, rugby union's annual break for international sides to tour the globe, provided the usual surprises and entertainment in 2012 (Image | Getty)

The Autumn Internationals, rugby union’s annual break for international sides to tour the globe, provided the usual surprises and entertainment in 2012. (Image | Getty)

Another year, another November packed with international rugby action.

Ranging from high-profile clashes between the world’s best, to a second-tier mini tournament held in North Wales and short tours for minor nations, it was hard at times to keep track of all the action.

Here are all the results, the fallout from the Autumn Internationals and the consequences for the future.

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The draw, made in London on Monday, effectively marks the beginning of the rugby world's qualification cycle (Image | Getty)

The draw, made in London on Monday, effectively marks the beginning of the rugby world’s qualification cycle. (Image | Getty)

On Monday afternoon in London, the world’s rugby union representatives met to distribute 20 teams across the four groups that will form the first round of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The draw was somewhat kind on Scotland, who drew arguably the weakest side in Band 2, while hosts England will face defeated 2011 finalists Australia and Wales in their group. Each group features three of rugby’s 12 ‘Tier 1’ sides, who are guaranteed a place at the World Cup, and two spots available to qualifiers, who we have attempted to predict.

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Following their 33-10 win over Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, the New Zealand rugby union team have remained undefeated in 20 successive international fixtures, a run that stretches back to September 2011.

Combative | New Zealand winger Julian Savea fends off Wales’ Alex Cuthbert at the Millennium Stadium. (Image | 3News)

Add to that figure a victory over England this weekend and they will extend what is already a world record figure to 21 matches unbeaten.

With six Rugby Championship titles in the previous eight years and Rugby World Cup success last year, the question is beginning to circulate: could this All Blacks side be the best of all time?

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Dan Carter kicks a last-minute drop kick to hand New Zealand a 2-0 lead in the Test series. (Image | The Guardian)

Ireland looked to bounce back from their 42-10 drubbing against the All Blacks last week, with Declan Kidney making four changes to the team that was resoundingly beaten in the first Test.

Andrew Trimble replaced Simon Zebo on the wing, Gordon D’Arcy returned to the centre in place of the injured Keith Earls, fit-again Mike Ross came in for Declan Fitzpatrick in the front row, and Kevin McLaughlin swapped for Peter O’Mahony at blindside flanker. Jamie Heaslip led Ireland out on his 50th cap. Nigel Owens was the referee for this encounter, as strict as ever at the breakdown which would be the key to this game.

The Irish scored the first points of the game, prop Ben Franks penalised for going off his feet at a ruck to give Sexton the chance to put the ball into the corner for the lineout. Rory Best threw to Donnacha Ryan, and good recycing by Ireland saw them reach the All Blacks try line. Munster man Conor Murray touched down from the back of the ruck, evading Tony Woodcock to get the first try of the game. Sexton converted to give Ireland a 7-0 lead after ten minutes.

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Debutant Julian Savea gave Ireland the run-around all game long on his way to a stunning hat-trick (Image | Getty)

The first year of the new ‘traditional’ tour schedule has begun with disappointment for the big three teams from the British Isles. Ireland, Wales and England have gone one-nil down in three test series and, while it’s still possible for their summer to be rescued, there’s a lot of work to be done.

In fairness to Ireland, they were never expected to do more than put up a fight against world champions New Zealand. There was pre-match talk from within the Irish camp about going there to win, but the All Blacks are the best team in the world by a significant distance and they outclassed the tourists in a 42-10 victory.

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The selection policy of John Steele, former CEO of the RFU, could be sorely tested by the “exceptional circumstances” stipulation. (Image | The Guardian)

It was in December 2010 that John Steele, then CEO of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), sent a letter to all England players describing a new selection policy. The RFU believed that the best route to World Cup success in 2015 was to develop players within the English club system, using the advantages and release privileges of the Elite Player Squad structure. As such, players who chose to take a contract with an overseas club would only be selected “in exceptional circumstances.”

A year and a half later and “exceptional circumstances” have become somewhat flexible.

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