New Zealand
[[Image:All blacks|125px]]
Union New Zealand Rugby Union
Coach Flag of New Zealand Graham Henry
Captain Richie McCaw

The All Blacks are New Zealand's national rugby union team. Rugby union is New Zealand's national sport, with the All Blacks a formidable power in international rugby, achieving a winning record against all nations.

The All Blacks compete annually with the Australian rugby team, the Wallabies, and the South African rugby team, the Springboks, in the Tri-Nations Series, in which they also contest the Bledisloe Cup with Australia. The All Blacks have been Tri-Nations champions seven times in the tournament's eleven-year history, and twice completed a Grand Slam (in 1978 and in 2005), and currently hold the Bledisloe Cup. They are the top-ranked team in the world, and the 2006 International Rugby Board (IRB) Team of the Year.[1][2] Twelve former All Blacks have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.


Introduction of rugby to New ZealandEdit

Rugby Football was introduced to New Zealand by Charles Monro in the late 1860s; Monro discovered the sport while completing his studies at Christ's College Finchley, England.[3] The first game in New Zealand took place in May 1870 in Nelson between the Nelson club and Nelson College. The first union, Canterbury, was formed in 1879.[4] In 1882, New Zealand's first internationals were played when the Southern Rugby Union (later the New South Wales Rugby Union) toured the country. The tourists played Auckland provincial clubs twice, Wellington twice and once each against Canterbury, Otago and West Coast, North Island, winning four games and losing three. Two years later the first New Zealand team to go overseas toured New South Wales; New Zealand played and won eight games.[5]

The first tour by a British team took place in 1888 when a British Isles team toured Australia and New Zealand, although no Test matches were played. The players were drawn mainly from England and the Scottish Borders, although there were representatives from all four home unions.

Development of a legacyEdit

New Zealand's rivalry with South Africa began in 1921, when the Springboks (as the South African team is known) toured New Zealand for a Test series that finished all square.[6] The All Blacks went on to later tour South Africa for the first time in 1928; this series also ended in a draw.

The 1924 All Black tourists to the United Kingdom (UK) were eventually dubbed the Invincibles because they had won every game. However, the team were deprived of the chance to complete a grand slam when Scotland refused to play them because of an argument over expenses.[7] The first truly representative British Isles (now known as British and Irish Lions) side toured New Zealand in 1930. Although the Lions won the first Test, the home side regrouped and went on to win the series 3-1. New Zealand toured the UK again in 1935-36, losing only three games (including two Tests) during a 30-match tour.[8] In one of these losses, Prince Obolensky famously scored two tries to help England to a 13-0 win, their first over the All Blacks.[9]

In 1937, South Africa won a series against the All Blacks when they toured New Zealand, and this 1937 South African team has subsequently been described as the best team ever to leave New Zealand.[10][11] It wasn't until 1949, after the end of the Second World War, that the All Blacks next played the Springboks when they visited South Africa with Fred Allen as captain. The tour witnessed an infamous All Blacks record — the loss of two Test matches on the same day. This was made possible because Australia were touring New Zealand at the same time. On the afternoon of September 3 (New Zealand time), the All Black team captained by J. B. (Johnny) Smith was beaten 11-6 by Australia in Wellington.[12] That same afternoon in South Africa (South Africa time), the All Blacks captained by Ron Elvidge (Allen was injured) lost 9-3 to the Springboks in Durban.[13] The All Blacks in New Zealand also lost their second Test, 16-9, which gave Australia the Bledisloe Cup for the first time. Although each Test was very close, the All Blacks lost the series 4-0.

The two series losses to South Africa made their 1956 tour of New Zealand highly anticipated. The All Blacks were captained by Bob Duff and coached by Bob Stuart, and their 3-1 series win was their first ever over the Springboks as well as being the Springboks' first ever series loss against any opponent.[14][15] During the series, the All Blacks had introduced Don Clarke and Kevin Skinner in the last two Tests to help secure the win.[15] Skinner was introduced to "sort out" the South African props whilst Don Clark would subsequently become known as "The Boot" for his goal kicking.[16][17]

The All Blacks' 3-1 series win over the Lions in 1959 proved to be the start of a dominant period in All Blacks rugby. This was followed by 1963-64 tour to the UK, led by Wilson Whineray, which came very close to achieving a Grand Slam but were deprived by a scoreless draw with Scotland.[18]. The only loss on this tour was to Newport RFC who defeated the All Blacks 3-0 at Rodney Parade, Newport on October 30 1963[19]. Later, the 1967 side won three Tests, but was unable to play Ireland because of a foot-and-mouth scare.[18] This tour formed part of The All Blacks longest ever winning streak between 1965 and 1970, during which they recorded 17 Test victories.[20] Although the 1966 Lions were defeated 0-4 in their New Zealand tour, there was a reversal of fortune five years later when the 1971 Lions, under the captaincy of Welshman John Dawes, beat the All Blacks in a Test series which remains the Lions' only series victory in New Zealand to date.

The 1972-3 tourists narrowly missed a Grand Slam with a draw against Ireland.[18] The tour was also notable for the sending home of prop Keith Murdoch, who was alleged to have been involved in a brawl in a Cardiff hotel while celebrating the defeat of Wales.[21]

In 1978, Graham Mourie captained the All Blacks to their first Grand Slam which was completed with a 13-12 victory over Wales. That game generated great controversy after the All Blacks won as the result of a late penalty. Lock Andy Haden had dived out of a line-out in an attempt to earn a penalty; however the penalty awarded by referee Roger Quittenton was actually against Welsh lock Geoff Wheel for jumping off the shoulder of Frank Oliver.[22] The All Blacks' only loss on the tour was the famous 12-0 defeat by Irish province Munster at Thomond Park.[23] made famous by the John Breen play Alone it Stands.[24]

Controversial tours Edit

The 1976 All Blacks tour of South Africa generated much controversy and led to the boycott of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal by thirty-three African nations.[25] The All Blacks again failed to win the Test series in South Africa (they would not do so until 1996, after the fall of apartheid). The 1976 Tour contributed to the Gleneagles Agreement being adopted by the Commonwealth Heads of State in 1977.[26]

The 1981 South African tour to New Zealand sparked protests against South Africa's apartheid policy[27] the likes of which had not been seen in New Zealand since the 1951 waterfront dispute.[28] The NZRU had invited the Springboks to tour as the Muldoon government refused to involve politics in sport.[26] Although the All Blacks won the Test series, two of the tour's provincial games were cancelled and the whole tour was marred by violence and protest.[29] During the tour the country experienced unrest, and the tour had a significant impact on New Zealand society.[29][27][30]

The 1985 All Blacks tour to South Africa was cancelled after legal action argued it would breach the NZRU's constitution.[30] In 1986, a rebel tour to South Africa took place which had not been authorised by the NZRU and the team, named the Cavaliers, featured many All Blacks of the time.[31][32] Those that participated in the tour received a ban from the NZRU when they returned to New Zealand.[33]

Early World CupsEdit

The inaugural World Cup in 1987 was co-hosted and won by New Zealand, who beat France 29-9 in the final at Eden Park, Auckland. New Zealand conceded only 52 points and scored 43 tries in six games en route to the title, having swept aside the challenges of Italy, Fiji, Argentina, Scotland, Wales and France.[34]

By the 1991 World Cup, the All Blacks were an ageing side,[35] co-coached by Alex Wyllie and John Hart. They struggled during pool matches against the United States and Italy, but won their quarter-final against Canada.[36] They were then knocked out by eventual winners Australia 16-6 in their semi-final at Lansdowne Road. In the wake of the tournament, there were many retirements, including coach Wyllie, who had enjoyed an 86% win rate during 29 Tests in charge.[37]

Laurie Mains replaced Wyllie in 1992, and was given the job of preparing the side for the 1995 event in South Africa. The All Blacks were again favourites to take the championship.[38] Their favouritism was confirmed when a young Jonah Lomu scored four tries against England in the All Blacks' 45-29 semi-final win.[39] However, the New Zealand team suffered an outbreak of food poisoning before the final. Despite this, they took hosts South Africa to extra time, before losing to Joel Stransky's drop goal.[40][41]

Professional eraEdit

The professional era in rugby union began in 1995, marked by creation of the SANZAR group (a combination of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia)[42] which was formed with the purpose of selling TV rights for two new competitions, the domestic Super 12 competition and the Tri-Nations.[42] The first Tri-Nations was contested in 1996, with the All Blacks winning all four of their Tests to take the trophy.[43]

The 1996 Tri-Nations match in South Africa between the All Blacks and Springboks was also the first in a historic series. Under new coach John Hart and the captaincy of Sean Fitzpatrick, the All Blacks won a Test series in South Africa for the first time.[44] Fitzpatrick even rated the series win higher than the 1987 World Cup victory in which he had participated.[44]

The next two seasons saw mixed results for the All Blacks, who won the 1997 Tri-Nations before losing it for the first time in 1998. The All Blacks won all their Tri-Nations Tests in 1997.[45] However, in 1998, the All Blacks lost all four of their Tests, the first time they had lost four in succession since 1949.[46] The following year, they suffered their worst ever Test loss, a 28-7 loss to Australia in Sydney.[47]

The All Blacks rebounded in the 1999 World Cup and dominated their pool, handing England a 30-16 defeat at Twickenham. They advanced past Scotland 30-18 in the quarter-finals to play France at Twickenham. The All Blacks finished the first half ahead 17-10.[47] France then produced a famous half of rugby to which the All Blacks had no answer, eventually winning 43-31.[47] Hart subsequently resigned as coach and was replaced by co-coaches Wayne Smith and Tony Gilbert.

Under Smith and Gilbert, the All Blacks came second in the 2000 and 2001 Tri-Nations. Both coaches were replaced by John Mitchell on 3rd October 2001 who went on to coach the All Blacks to victory in both the 2002 and 2003 Tri-Nations, as well as regaining the Bledisloe Cup (which had been held by Australia since 1998) in 2003. After winning the 2003 Tri-Nations, they entered the 2003 World Cup as one of the favourites and dominated their pool, running up wins against Italy, Canada and Tonga before winning one of the most competitive matches of the tournament against Wales.[48] They defeated South Africa, a team they had never beaten at the World Cup, 29-9, but lost again to Australia 22-10 in the semi-final in Sydney. Afterwards, Mitchell was fired by the NZRU and replaced by Graham Henry.

Henry's tenure began with a double victory over reigning World Champions England in 2004. The two games had an aggregate score of 72-15, with the All Blacks keeping England try-less.[49][50] Despite the winning start to Henry's tenure, the Tri-Nations was a mixed success with two wins and two losses. The competition was the closest ever, bonus points decided the outcome and the All Blacks finished last.[51][52] The 2004 season finished on a high however, with the All Blacks winning in Europe, including a record 45-6 victory over France.[53]

In 2005, the All Blacks whitewashed the touring British and Irish Lions 3-0 in the Test series, won the Tri-Nations, and achieved a second Grand Slam over the Home Nations. They went on to sweep the major International Rugby Board year-end awards in which the All Blacks were named Team of the Year, Henry was named Coach of the Year, and fly-half (first five) Daniel Carter was Player of the Year.[54] The All Blacks were nominated for the Laureus World Sports Award for Team of the Year in 2006 for their 2005 performance.[55]

In 2006, they again took the Tri Nations Series by winning their first five matches, (three against Australia and two against South Africa). However, they lost their final match of the series against South Africa. They completed their end of year tour unbeaten, with record away wins over France, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, completing a second "Grand Slam".[56] The All Blacks were named 2006 IRB Team of the Year and were nominated for the Laureus World Sports Award for the second time, while flanker Richie McCaw was named IRB Player of the Year.[2][55][57]

The 2007 season started off with two mid-year Tests against France. The All Blacks won the Tests; 42 - 11 at Eden Park, and 61 - 10 at Westpac Stadium. A third game between Canada and the All Blacks resulted in a 64-13 scoreline, although the game was more competitive than the scoreline portrayed.[58]

The All Blacks' first Tri-Nations game of 2007 was against the Springboks in Durban, South Africa. The All Blacks scored two tries in the final ten minutes of the game to win 26-21. The following week against the Wallabies at the MCG in Melbourne the Wallabies upset the All Blacks to win 20-15; the All Blacks first loss to Australia since 2004.


The All Blacks perform a haka (Māori dance) before each international match. The haka has been closely associated with New Zealand ever since a tour of New South Wales in 1884. The New Zealand native team of Britain used Ake Ake Kia Kaha and the 1903 team in Australia used a mocking haka, Tupoto koe, Kangaru!. The 1905 All Blacks began the tradition of using Ka Mate and by 1914 this was firmly established as part of New Zealand rugby. The 1924 All-Blacks used a specially composed haka Kia Whaka-ngawari, but later All Blacks reverted back to Ka Mate.[59]

In the August 2005, before the Tri-Nations Test match between New Zealand and South Africa at Carisbrook stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand, the All Blacks performed a different haka Kapa o Pango. Kapa o Pango was a haka specially composed by Derek Lardelli and "...designed to reflect the multi-cultural make-up of contemporary New Zealand — in particular the influence of Polynesian cultures.[60] Kapa o Pango was to be performed on special occasions and was not intended to replace Ka Mate.[61] Kapa o Pango concludes with a "throat slitting" action that was a source of controversy and led to accusations that Kapa o Pango encourages violence, and sent the wrong message to All Blacks fans.[62][63] However, according to Kapo o Pango composer Derek Lardelli, the gesture represented "drawing vital energy into the heart and lungs."[64]

In November 2006, at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, the All Blacks performed the haka in the dressing rooms prior to the match instead of immediately before kick-off. The Welsh Rugby Union wanted Wales to sing their national anthem after the All Blacks had performed the haka. The All Blacks disagreed with this request and hence performed the haka in their dressing room instead.[65]



The All Blacks' only annual tournament is the Tri-Nations played against Australia and South Africa. The All Blacks' record of seven tournament wins (the most recent in 2006) and 32 match wins is well ahead of the other teams' records. The Bledisloe Cup is also contested between New Zealand and Australia as part of the Tri-Nations.

Nation Games Points Bonus
played won drawn lost for against difference

Updated 8 July 2007

World CupEdit

The All Blacks have won the World Cup once in the 1987 inaugural competition held in New Zealand and Australia. In 1991, they lost their semi-final to Australia before winning the playoff for third. In 1995, they improved by reaching the final, before losing in extra time to hosts South Africa, however controversy surrounds the final with many suspecting the All Blacks were poisoned[1]. Their worst World Cup was their fourth place in 1999, after losing their semi-final and then the third-place playoff game. In 2003 the All Blacks were knocked out by hosts Australia in their semi-final, before finishing third. Despite only one World Cup title they are the only team to have reached the semifinals in every tournament.[66]

Their Test match record against all nations (listed in order of total matches), updated to 15 July 2007, is as follows:[67]

Individual recordsEdit

The record for most All Black Test points is held by Andrew Mehrtens with 967 points from 70 Tests.[68] The All Black's greatest Test try scorer is Christian Cullen with 46 tries from 58 Tests.[69] The world record for tries in a calendar year is held by Joe Rokocoko, with 17 tries in 2003; he also became the first All Black to score ten tries in his first five Tests.[70] In Test matches, the most capped All Black is Sean Fitzpatrick with 92 appearances, with a record 51 of which were as captain.[71] The youngest All Black in a Test match was Jonah Lomu, capped at age 19 years, 45 days, whilst the oldest Test player was Ned Hughes at 40 years, 123 days.[72][73][74]

References Edit

  1. IRB World Rankings. Retrieved on 2006-09-08.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "McCaw named IRB Player of the Year",, 2006-11-26. Retrieved on 2007-01-24. 
  3. Davies, Sean. "All Black magic: New Zealand rugby",, 2006-09-27. Retrieved on 2006-11-12. 
  4. Gifford (2004), pg 27.
  5. Gifford (2004), pg 29.
  6. South Africa and New South Wales in New Zealand. Retrieved on 2006-10-30.
  7. Palenski (2003), pg 74.
  8. In the British Isles and Canada. Retrieved on 2007-01-24.
  9. Gallagher, Brendan. "The day a Russian prince in an England shirt beat the All Blacks",, 2006-11-03. Retrieved on 2006-11-02. 
  10. Palenski (2003), pg 192.
  11. THE 1956 SPRINGBOK TOUR. Retrieved on 2006-11-03.
  12. 67th All Black Test : 362nd All Black Game. Retrieved on 2006-09-08.
  13. 68th All Black Test : 363rd All Black Game. Retrieved on 2006-09-08.
  14. South Africa in New Zealand. Retrieved on 2006-11-03.
  15. 15.0 15.1 THE 1956 SPRINGBOK TOUR. Retrieved on 2006-11-03.
  16. Kevin Skinner. Retrieved on 2006-11-03.
  17. Don Clarke(1933 - ). Retrieved on 2006-11-03.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 "Beach beckons as All Blacks celebrate history",, 2005-11-27. Retrieved on 2006-11-12. 
  19. Newport 3 V 0 New Zealand. Retrieved on 2007-07-09.
  20. Palenski (2003), pg 269.
  21. Lowe, Robert. "Disgraced All Black 'heroic' in dignified silence",, 2005-10-07. Retrieved on 2006-11-12. 
  22. Mehaffey, John. "Mourie has mixed emotions over Haden dive",, 2005-11-24. Retrieved on 2006-11-12. 
  23. Irish, Oliver. "The 10 greatest shocks in sport's history",, 2002-04-07. Retrieved on 2006-11-12. 
  24. Smythe, John. "Alone It Stands - at Court Theatre",, 2005-04-01. Retrieved on 2006-11-12. 
  25. On This Day 17 July 1976. Retrieved on 2007-01-17.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Watters, Steve. From Montreal to Gleneagles. Retrieved on 2007-01-17.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Sharpe, Marty. "Dark days of thunder - when a free nation confronted apartheid in sport",, 2001-08-25. Retrieved on 2006-11-13. 
  28. Watters, Steve. A country divided. Retrieved on 2006-11-13.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Watters, Steve. 'A war played out twice a week'. Retrieved on 2006-11-13.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Hill, Ruth. "Protests a turning point in the history of New Zealand",, 2006-07-08. Retrieved on 2006-11-15. 
  31. Luxford, Bob. Bernie Fraser. Retrieved on 2006-11-15.
  32. Millen, Julia (2006-04-07). Blazey, Cecil Albert 1909 - 1998. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved on 2006-11-15.
  33. Rugby Chronology. Retrieved on 2006-11-15.
  34. World Cup in New Zealand and Australia. Retrieved on 2006-11-15.
  35. Palenski (2003), pg 227.
  36. Palenski (2003), pg 228.
  37. Palenski (2003), pg 290.
  38. "All set for World Cup semis",, 2003-11-14. Retrieved on 2006-11-15. 
  39. Knight, Lindsay. Jonah Tali Lomu. Retrieved on 2006-11-15.
  40. "Springboks poisoned at 1995 Cup: Luyt", NZPA, 2003-10-30. Retrieved on 2006-11-15. 
  41. "1995: Party time for SA",, 2003-09-24. Retrieved on 2006-11-15. 
  42. 42.0 42.1 Howitt (2005), pg 7.
  43. Howitt (2005), pg 170.
  44. 44.0 44.1 Palenski (2003), pg 206.
  45. Howitt (2005), pg 185.
  46. Howitt (2005), pg 199.
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 Palenski (2003), pg 233.
  48. "Charvis bowed but proud",, 2003-11-02. Retrieved on 2007-01-17. 
  49. 382nd All Black Test : 1102nd All Black Game. Retrieved on 2006-11-16.
  50. 383nd All Black Test : 1103rd All Black Game. Retrieved on 2006-11-16.
  51. Bonus points could be earned via two means; scoring four tries or more in one match, and by losing by seven points or less.
  52. Howitt (2005), pg 289.
  53. 392nd All Black Test : 1112th All Black Game. Retrieved on 2006-11-16.
  54. IRB Awards past winners. Retrieved on 2006-11-15.
  55. 55.0 55.1 NZPA. "All Blacks in running for Laureus nomination", The New Zealand Herald, 2006-12-12. Retrieved on 2007-01-08. 
  56. Phillips, Mitch. "Awesome All Blacks widen the gulf",, 2006-11-26. Retrieved on 2006-11-28. 
  57. All Blacks nomination page on Laureus Awards site. Laureus World Sports Awards. Retrieved on 2007-04-16.
  58. "Slick All Blacks belt Canada", Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 16 June 2007. Retrieved on 2007-06-26. 
  59. All Blacks' Haka. Retrieved on 2007-07-09.
  60. Stokes, Jon. "New haka the cutting edge of sport",, 2005-08-29. Retrieved on 2006-10-30. 
  61. Hinton, Marc. "ABs Reveal New Haka",, 2005-08-27. Retrieved on 2006-11-16. 
  62. Cleary, Mick. "Cut-throat haka does All Blacks no favours",, 2005-09-05. Retrieved on 2006-10-31. 
  63. "All Blacks coach slams haka criticism",, 2006-07-28. Retrieved on 2007-01-17. 
  64. "Kapa O Pango gets green light",, 2006-07-08. Retrieved on 2006-10-30. 
  65. "So just who is to blame for no Millennium haka?",, 2006-11-27. Retrieved on 2006-12-18. 
  66. Gilhooly, Daniel. "Zinzan Brooke defends All Blacks - 'we can win the Cup'", NZPA, 2006-11-17. Retrieved on 2006-11-28. 
  67. All Blacks Test Match Record since first test match.. Retrieved on 2007-07-05.
  68. Knight, Lindsay. Andrew Mehrtens. Retrieved on 2006-12-28.
  69. Knight, Lindsay. Christian Cullen. Retrieved on 2006-12-28.
  70. Joe Rokocoko. Retrieved on 2006-12-30.
  71. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named SeanFitz
  72. Knight, Knight. Jonah Lomu. Retrieved on 2006-12-31.
  73. Palenski (2003), pg 286
  74. The next oldest Test player was Frank Bunce, aged 35 years, 305 days; over four years younger then Hughes.
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