The All Blacks, An Appreciation of Magnificence – Daniel Walker, Year 13

One mistake. One tiny mistake can cost you a game against the All Blacks of New Zealand. In their most recent game, a Rugby Championship match up against South Africa it was a knock on by South African fly half Elton Jantjies on his own 5 metre line that was that mistake. New Zealand seized the chance, scored, and went on to outplay and outclass the South Africans for the rest of the game. This ruthlessness and capitalisation of mistakes in my opinion is one of the attributes that make the current All Blacks of New Zealand the greatest Rugby, if not sports team, ever assembled.

As I have just said, it is hard to pinpoint exactly which team in the history of sport can be classified as the greatest of all time but I do know that New Zealand’s national Rugby union team of recent times come incredibly close. They play the game with incredible skill, passion and power; they are real masters of the game and it is truly breath-taking to witness what this incredible team can do. My fascination with this indomitable side of Rugby came about after the 2011 World Cup held in New Zealand in which they beat France in the final. After this they then went on to win an incredible 51 out of 55 test matches over a span of 4 years, including an unbeaten season in 2013, almost unprecedented in international Rugby, especially when they played tests against the likes of the tenacious Springboks of South Africa and the brave Wallabies of Australia who both boast incredible players. They have also amassed 3 Rugby championship wins, 4 now after winning the 2016 edition with 2 games to spare, and 4 Bledisloe cup triumphs too, dominating Rugby in the Southern hemisphere as well as the North, most recently winning the World Cup in 2015 for the second time in a row.

When critics say that Northern hemisphere teams are a step below the Southern hemisphere I think they are wrong, as proven by England’s whitewash of Australia in their summer tour this year. Any Northern hemisphere nation can beat a Southern hemisphere team, but with one exception – yes you guessed it, New Zealand. Sure England managed it in 2012 at Twickenham but that was after a huge performance by all the England players that day. As shown by England it would take a monumental effort for any team to beat the All Blacks and even if they played to their absolute maximum it may not be enough to beat them, they are just that good. They play Rugby with ease, cunning and ruthlessness and will capitalise on any mistake that is made. This can best be shown in their Rugby Championship performances just recently in which they were simply dazzling. They demolished the Australians with ease in 2 tests, produced a second half master class to beat Argentina and played simple, effective and incredible Rugby against South Africa most recently, winning 41-13. I mean really, the Springboks are one of the greatest teams in World Rugby right now and they have been absolutely torn apart, what a team these All Blacks are.

As a Rugby fan there was nothing better than watching in amazement as this wonderful team won the Rugby Championship with incredible ease and with such great Rugby on show. Their win also marked an incredible record over 112 years in which they have won 414 games out of 537 played, thus cementing themselves as the most successful team to ever play professional sport.

The other thing that strikes me about New Zealand is the ease in which new players can adapt to still create the formidable aura that makes New Zealand such a great outfit. After the World Cup they lost inspirational captain Richie McCaw, the greatest fly half of all time in Dan Carter, the slick centre partnership of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, as well as the veteran hooker Kevin Mealamu. Losing key players such as this would prove incredibly challenging for most teams, but not the All Blacks. New flanker Sam Cane looks like a captain in the making, hooker Dane Coles is a carbon copy of the great Sean Fitzpatrick and Malaki Fekitoa is an exciting prospect in the centres. They are just a well-oiled machine that show no signs of breaking down. The British and Irish Lions actually tour New Zealand in 2017 and Warren Gatland may lead them in with a roar but I seriously fear they will come away from New Zealand with their tails between their legs.

I wrote this to show my appreciation for what I consider the greatest team that sport has ever seen, and I hope you will join me in recognising this remarkable team. We will never know when New Zealand’s dominance of Rugby will end but I hope it is not soon because I will never tire of watching them play the great game of Rugby. Enjoy them while you can, you will probably never see a team as good as this ever again.


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