NZ Rugby World
10 ICONIC ACTS OF NEW ZEALAND RUGBY HISTORY
2020 WAS A MOMENTOUS YEAR FOR MANY REASONS. WHICH IS WHY WE THINK IT IS A GOOD TIME TO ASK WHAT ARE THE 10 MOST ICONIC EVENTS IN NEW ZEALAND RUGBY HISTORY.
10 TRIPLE HANDSHAKE
The 2011 World Cup final had been one of the most intense 80 minutes in All Blacks history. A game everyone expected them to win relatively easily went to the wire and the nations' nerves were frayed when the final whistle blew.
The All Blacks had held on to win 8-7 and as the relief swept over Eden Park there developed an iconic moment that would immortalise the second World Cup triumph. It was the threeway handshake between former Prime Minister John Key, Richie McCaw, and World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset.
It was classic. So awkward and cringe-worthy that no one could ever forget it and
Key spent years having to defend himself for his role in this travesty.
“I just want to say, for the record, anyone who's interested, go and have a look at the YouTube slow motion video of it. Bernard Lapasset, he comes over the top. I'm looking into Richie's eyes, he's just won the World Cup.
“For years I've been maligned over this, and look, it is awkward.”
09 LOSING TO IRELAND CHICAGO 2016
It was going to happen one day – that the All Blacks were going to lose to Ireland. In 111 years they never had, which was kind of ridiculous and not a record the All Blacks could seriously expect to sustain.
Ireland had come so close in 2012 when they were tied at 19-all with three minutes left in Christchurch. They came even closer in 2013 when they were 22-17 ahead with less than a minute to go only to lose 24-22.
And so maybe it was no surprise at all that on a gloriously sunny day in Chicago, Ireland finally got the job done. A weakened All Blacks team – they had to play Jerome Kaino at lock – had a terrible first 50 minutes where they went 31-7 behind.
In typical All Blacks fashion they stormed back to within a few points but a late score by Ireland saw them win 40-29.
08 CYRIL BROWNLIE IS SENT OFF 1925
Cyril Brownlie was the eldest of three Hawke’s Bay brothers who played for the All Blacks. While younger brother Maurice was recognised as much the better player, it is Cyril who made the greater historic footprint on account of being the first man to ever be sent o in a test match.
Brownlie was at lock for the All Blacks in their 1925 encounter with England at Twickenham and received his marching orders early in the game after a skirmish that didn’t seem by all accounts to be overly dramatic. But Welsh referee Albert Freethy saw it di erently and ordered Brownlie o . The disgrace was enormous – so bad that
07 18 CONSECUTIVE WINS
When the All Blacks came to play their third Bledisloe Cup test of 2016 history beckoned. If they could win at Eden
Park they would record a world record consecutive 18th victory.
It was the fourth time in six years that the All Blacks were on the verge of claiming that record.
In 2010, 2012 and 2014 they had reached 17 wins. But on all three occasions they failed to win their 18th – losing to the Wallabies in Hong Kong in 2010 and then drawing with them in Brisbane in 2012 and Sydney in 2014.
Playing at Eden Park, they finally managed to secure the last victory they needed and the 37-10 score-line perhaps flattered them on the night but not over the course of the 18 tests.
The All Blacks had been brilliant throughout the 2015 World Cup and then all of 2016.
“One thing we understand in this group is that you don’t own the jersey and you don’t own the job you do in the team,” Hansen said.
“We do have a rich history and the responsibility of the people who are passing through at the moment is to make sure they leave it in better shape than they found it.”
Prince Edward – later to become
Edward VIII – tried to intervene to have the New Zealander returned to the field.
The royal intervention was in vain and Brownlie trudging o the field has become one of the iconic photos of
New Zealand rugby.
Colin Meads was the only other All Black of the amateur era to be sent o and it would be another 92 years since Brownlie was dismissed for an All Black of the professional age to be dismissed.
That was Sonny Bill Williams in the second test against the British & Irish Lions in 2017.
06 PETER JONES SAYS BUGGERED 1956
The All Blacks had traveled to South Africa in 1949 and su ered the humiliation of losing the test series 4-0. It was a bad year in the All Black annals so when the Boks came to New Zealand in
1956, there was massive desire for revenge.
The country was hooked by a tour against the old enemy and it lived up to the hype.
The Springboks played expansive and skilled rugby but were just as happy when they could indulge in the dark arts. The All Blacks won the first test 10-6 at Carisbrook but were then defeated 8-3 in Wellington in what is deemed to be one of the most brutal encounters ever played.
National interest in the tour was at unprecedented levels particularly given the physical pounding meted to All Black prop Tiny White in that second test.
The famously tough Kevin Skinner was recalled from retirement to deal to the Boks in the third – which he did – in a game that also saw Don Clarke make his debut and become one of the great All Blacks.
That third test was secured 17-10 and the fourth was a lung-bursting epic that saw the All Backs prevail 11-5 in a classic contest. The defining try was scored by All Black
No 8 Peter Jones who created a lifetime of controversy when he was interviewed by radio straight after the game and so famously said: “I am absolutely buggered.” New Zealand had a landmark quote – and one that would eventually lead to the world’s largest car manufacturer arguing in court that the word ‘bugger’ was acceptable to use in advertising.
05 THE SWAP THAT FLOPPED DRAWN LIONS SERIES
The 2017 series against the British & Irish Lions produced one of the weirdest finishes in all of rugby history. The score was tied at 15-all after the Lions milked a penalty with three minutes left. From the kick-o , the Lions conceded a penalty when Ken Owens was o side.
Initially Romain Poite gave the penalty but was then persuaded to overturn it by his assistant referee Jerome Garces and downgrade it to a scrum.
It was a ridiculously bad call and meant the series was drawn and we had the strangest sight of Kieran Read and Sam Warburton jointly receiving a trophy.
As Read said after the game: “Pretty hollow to be honest. We’ll walk away with a draw which doesn’t mean much. In my view it’s a penalty [at the end of the game], he ruled it correctly from the start. That wasn’t the reason why we drew the game. It didn’t click for us and we stuck at it and I’m proud of the lads. It’s just one of those ones.”
04 LOSING TO ARGENTINA
Just as it was inevitable the All Blacks would one day lose to Ireland, so too was there every chance they would also lose to Argentina.
That moment came in November 2020 when the Pumas, having not played a test for 402 days produced one of the greatest performances in their history to win 25-15.
It was an incredible e ort given the circumstances – the lack of rugby they had collectively and individually played and the hardships they had endured getting through a long and severe lockdown.
“Emotions are sometimes di cult to control, especially after everything we have been through,” Pumas coach Mario Ledesma said.
“I think we are like we are and we don’t want to change, I think emotions and passions are a very good thing.
“I thought there was a lot of control and discipline too in the way we played, and that’s the way we should be playing.”
03 SERIES WIN IN SOUTH AFRICA
The All Blacks had achieved almost everything in the world game by the time the game turned professional at the end of 1995.
There was one thing, however, that they had never been able to do in close to 100 years of trying: they had never won a test series in South Africa.
Great players and great teams had all travelled in hope, won single tests over the years but never a series. It was a source of great pain and angst for the world’s best rugby nation.
There were some who wondered if the All Blacks were destined to never achieve what they so desperately craved. The transition to professionalism in 1996 saw an oddity in the scheduling – where the All Blacks had a long-arranged three test tour of the Republic. They also had to play a pre-test in South Africa as part of the newly created Tri Nations.
The All Blacks won the Tri Nations encounter in Cape Town 29-18 and then went to Durban where they won the first o cial test of the series 23-19. The second test in Pretoria was an epic.
The Boks came at them hard but somehow the All Blacks held on with the most heroic defensive e ort and when the final whistle blew, hard men like captain Sean Fitzpatrick collapsed to their knees and openly wept.
“We felt the sheer intensity of it,” Fitzpatrick told the New Zealand Herald. “That game in Pretoria was the most unbelievable game. In the last two minutes we had a lineout. We went running across one side of the field to the other and I ran past [All Black prop] Olo Brown who was heaving with his throat burning.
“I said ‘Come on mate we’ve got a minute to go let’s do it’. Don Clarke was standing in the tunnel and he put his arm around me with tears running down his face. He said ‘Sean thank you so much for doing something so many All Black teams had tried to do in the past’.”
02 PERFECT SEASON 2013
In 2013 the All Blacks became the first team to post a perfect season in a calendar year. They went through 14 tests undefeated, but it was the dramatic way the last fixture was won which epitomised what the team was all about.
That final test was against Ireland in Dublin and after 19 minutes, the All Blacks were 19-0 down. After 65 minutes they were 22-10 down and barely hanging on.
When there were 30 seconds left, the All Blacks trailed 22-17 and didn't have the ball. But they forced a penalty and then produced a 13-phase movement that saw them sweep 60 metres down the field in one of the great pressure passages of rugby ever seen.
Ryan Crotty crossed for the try three minutes after the hooter had gone and the All Blacks had shown what was possible if a team could stay calm and retain their belief.
“We were pretty calm the in box,” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said after the 24-22 victory. “I don’t know whether was because I thought we were gone or still had a chance. I think it was the latter. Everyone has a lot of faith in the group we had on the park. We just knew if we backed our skill sets and structures it would be okay.
“Don’t see this as the All Blacks not having turned up today, turned up,” he warned. “Ireland turned up, forced mistakes and were good enough to score o them. All of a sudden they thought ‘gee we’re in this.’”
01 DAN'S PERFECT DROP GOAL
The All Blacks went to England in 2015 hoping to make history by becoming the first team to win backto-back World Cups.
Their mission was on track when they made the final and seemed almost complete just after half-time when they led 21-3.
A yellow card to Ben Smith enabled the Wallabies to score two converted tries and with nine minutes remaining tension had gripped the game.
But Dan Carter alleviated it when he struck a 40-metre drop goal to push the All Blacks 24-17 ahead and then a few minutes later he nailed a 50 metre penalty.
The drop goal was critical. “I’m pretty grateful to be where I am right here after what happened four years ago, to have to sit and watch my teammates play in a final,” Carter said.
“I was desperate to play that World Cup at home and I’ve been working extremely hard the last three years. We try to do things that no other teams have done before. Sometimes we look at the things we wanted to achieve and think it’s a bit too far out.
“It’s a special feeling to be part of such a great team.”