Greatest national sports team of all time?
First I’m gonna say, rugby union is a big deal in New Zealand. Its our national sport and is like a religion to many people. Thousands of kids from every corner of the country spend weekends running a funny shaped ball around a field, dreaming of becoming an All Blacks when they grow up. The All blacks are like superstars. It is ingrained in New Zealand culture. A comparison would be Canada and ice hockey.
The All Blacks are our national rugby team. Named because of their black uniform. They played their first international test match in 1903 against Australia, which they won and have been a leader in the sport ever since.
There are several other sports teams that have had impressive records, recently and through history. Some for several years, but none of them have kept that up for over a century. Some that come to mind are the Brazilian and Spanish football teams, Australian cricket, Canadian Ice hockey or American Basketball. Do any of these or others make the cut? Let me now make a case for why I believe the All Blacks are the best team of all time.
The All Blacks record
Firstly, if you take all the test matches the All Blacks have played since their first in 1903, their winning percentage is 76% which is pretty impressive considering they have played over 530 test matches, with a majority against top ranked teams. Whats even more impressive is that they have only ever lost at home 37 times. The team has a winning record against every other team they have played. There are only five countries that have beaten the All Blacks, England, South Africa, Australia, France and Wales (The last time for Wales was in 1954). They also have a winning record against the world first XV team and the British and Irish lions which both have a mix of players from different countries.
In October 2003 the world rugby rankings were introduced and New Zealand has held the top spot for longer than all the other teams combined with a cumulative time of over 10 years. During this time they have never been ranked below 3rd. They have been awarded world rugby team of the year 7 times since 2005.
New Zealand competes annually in the tri nations, now The Rugby Championship (the Southern hemispheres top teams). They are put up against South Africa and Australia, and for the last few years Argentina who has been added to the mix. Of the 20 years the championship has been running, New Zealand has won 13 times, Australia 4 and South Africa 3. As well as this New Zealand and Australia have been competing for the Bledisloe cup since 1931. New Zealand has won it 43 times and Australia 12. As it currently stands, New Zealand has held the cup for the last 13 years.
The All Blacks have completed seven undefeated tours of Europe including two grand slam tours where they beat England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in successive weeks.
New Zealand has had the biggest winning margins against opposing teams. They put up their biggest winning score of 145-17 against Japan in 1995. On the flip side, their worst ever loss was to Australia in 1999, 28-7.
The world cup
The world cup has been a bit of an Achilles heel for the All Blacks. They did dominate the first world cup in 1987 winning all of their games including the final 29-9 against France. After this first year they seemed to have a run of bad luck. Every world cup year the All blacks entered the tournament as favorites with a promising start. They have never lost a game in pool play, but have been knocked out at different stages. The worst was against France in the 2007 cup when they were knocked out in the quarter finals. The 1995 world cup saw them in the finals against South Africa where they narrowly lost in overtime. Their unsuccessful run at the world cup eventually came to an end in 2011 where they beat France in New Zealand, 7-8. Now in 2015 they have become the first team to pull off back to back wins and rack up three titles. They beat Australia in the final 34-17.
Are the All Blacks now better than ever?
New Zealand don’t have an official home ground as they play at different stadiums around New Zealand. Despite this, Eden Park in Auckland has become their fortress. They haven’t lost a game there since 1994. As far as their current home record goes, they haven’t lost a game at home in six years. A total of 38 consecutive games.
For the decade 2000-2009 The All Blacks won 100 tests with an 82% winning percentage.
From 2010 on they have managed to get even better with a winning record from then until now of 90%. This included 2013 which saw the All Blacks finish a year winning every test match. Since 2010 they have lost an average of 1.3 test matches per year.
Richie Mccaw, who retired after the 2015 world cup has the most test caps for any rugby player ever at 148. Also Dan Carter has scored more points than any other player at over 1500.
So do you agree with The All Blacks being the most successful national team of all time? Which countries have teams that compare?