The rugby world, led mostly by Australians and English, takes great joy in labeling New Zealand’s All Blacks collars for their recent lack of World Cup success. Ever since the first World Cup, which New Zealand won, the history of the All Black World Cup has been one of disappointment and heartbreak for All Black Supporters who wonder how a team that seems to pass all three whole years before the World Cup. trampling everyone on the site can successfully throw world cups year after year.
It started in England, where the All Blacks were beaten in the semi-finals by Australia. I remember that year that year Australia beat the All Blacks convincingly at home and then New Zealand managed to hold onto the Bledislow Cup by winning a low scoring game at home. 1-1 for the World Cup, with Australia looking much more convincing in their victory. In the minds of many New Zealanders, the All Blacks were the underdogs of this semi-final. Chokers – not here. As much as it pains me to say it, beaten by the best team, not just by day, but of the season.
In South Africa in 1995, the All Blacks played well to rule them out in the final. Getting up in the middle of the night The New Zealanders were greeted with news that many of their foods were suffering from food poisoning ahead of their final against the hosts. Still, the game dragged on and the All Blacks lost the drop-kicking duel. Choking … only at their dinner.
In 1999, the All Blacks entered the semi-finals against a France team described as “only there by a fluke”. On this occasion, I was driving across the country to see my girlfriend, listening to the radio as the static crackled. New Zealand controlled much of the game, but were blown away in the second half by a period of play that France will produce once a decade. When they’re in this mood, they’re almost unstoppable. France continued to show their other side in the final, losing terribly to Australia in a lousy match. The All Blacks were so downcast they had little heart for their 3rd place in the playoffs with South Africa and finished their worst standings at a World Cup – 4th. To choke? Maybe so here, certainly they had little answer once the French activated the magic.
In 2003, the All Blacks had comfortably beaten Australia in the Tri-Nations (in a very good game) and after knocking out South Africa in the semi-final, they were the favorites for the semi-final, against the hosts. Australia played out a game plan the All Blacks never saw coming, and once again the inability to adapt took the All Blacks into the game. Having said that, one intercept made all the difference, and Australia was always going to be very difficult to beat on their home turf. Australia then lost to England in the final. This time around, there was no heartless playoff for the Kiwis who took their frustration out on France.
Overall, New Zealand’s World Cup history has been a disappointment for fans, but only one country, Australia, can boast a better record. The ‘choker’ tag is used more to annoy New Zealand fans than any team actually believes. Entering the 2007 World Cup, the All Blacks beat all the major nations comfortably, several times by 30 points or more. Remarkably, they did this with a team system which means they often play their second 15 in any given game. No other country in the rugby world has demonstrated the depth to contemplate this, but in 2006 the All Blacks dropped just one game – the ‘dead rubber’ in Ristenburg to a South African team fueled by desperation.
Competitors should consider the New Zealand team chokers at their own risk. They are favorites to win the 2007 World Cup, but not invincible as Rustenburg has shown.