SOUTH AFRICA 40-26 NEW ZEALAND AUGUST 14, 2004 // ELLIS PARK, JOHANNESBURG
This turned out to be a critical game in New Zealand rugby history. It became the catalyst for huge change within the team and e ectively influenced the next 13 years.
The All Blacks coaching panel of the time discovered a huge amount about the state of their players this day at Ellis Park.
After being thumped, the players had a huge session on the booze, which ended up with some of them being put in the recovery position in the hotel grounds. It was a shocking night, largely because it illustrated how wed the All Blacks were to amateur institutions such as court sessions.
When they got back to New Zealand, the coaches introduced a new leadership model – giving huge responsibility to the players.
The wanted a collaborative leadership team, not a dictatorial regime. They wanted players to take responsibility for themselves and be better people.
That has been the driving ethos of the All Blacks ever since. They have embraced the need for higher personal standards and learned what being professional really means.
This was the game that began the cultural revolution that has seen the All Blacks lift their win ratio to in excess of 85 per cent since 2004.