Home Rugby Just The Stats: The World XV – Decade By Decade (1980s, 1990s, 2000s And Beyond)

Just The Stats: The World XV – Decade By Decade (1980s, 1990s, 2000s And Beyond)

In the previous article we put together World XVs based on statistics for three decades: the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Now we move on to analyse the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and up to the present day.

1980s (20+ Caps)

As rugby grows as a sport, more and more games are being played which is why this team is made up of players with 20 or more caps, as opposed to 15 which was the threshold for the previous sides.

Unlike the 1970s, which was a period dominated by the Welsh and the French, the All Blacks returned to the fore of world rugby with a new generation of players that set the benchmark for the rest of the world once more.

It’s no surprise to see legendary hooker Sean Fitzpatrick at hooker in this side, or really to see only one non-Kiwi in French prop Pascal Ondarts. After all, this is the decade in which New Zealand became inaugural World Cup winners in 1987.

There are some pretty special names in the Whetton brothers, Buck Shelford, Jock Hobbs, Grant Fox, in fact pretty much the entire team. These are some of the best players to have worn the coveted All Blacks jersey.

1) Pascal Ondarts (FRA) – 77%
2) Sean Fitzpatrick (NZ) – 89%
3) Gary Knight (NZ) – 80%
4) Murray Pierce (NZ) – 90%
5) Gary Whetton (NZ) – 90%
6) Alan Whetton (NZ) – 93%
7) Jock Hobbs (NZ) – 76%
8) Buck Shelford (NZ) – 93%
9) Dave Loveridge (NZ) – 79%
10) Grant Fox (NZ) – 98%
11) John Kirwan (NZ) – 87%
12) Warwick Taylor (NZ) – 92%
13) Joe Stanley (NZ) – 86%
14) Bernie Fraser (NZ) – 74%
15) John Gallagher (NZ) – 97%

Now we’ll move on to the 1990s. In this team the threshold has been set at 30 caps because players began to have longer careers and more tests were being played each year.

1990s (30+ Caps)

Suddenly the influence of Australia over world rugby is felt. They have six players in the ’90s team in a decade when the Wallabies won two World Cup trophies and heralded their arrival as one of the world’s rugby superpowers.

Of course New Zealand are well represented once again with six players, but just not to the extent of the previous decade.

England’s double grand slam heroics and its first World Cup final are embodied here in Dean Richards’ inclusion at number eight. How England coach Geoff Cooke could have left him out of the final in 1991 is a real mystery to this writer. Richards had an uncanny ability to be in exactly the right place at the right time.

Lastly, the reappearance of South Africa after the ending of apartheid and thus being re-welcomed to the global rugby community is highlighted in the inclusion of two Springboks, most notably hooker James Dalton who won a fantastic 91% of all the games he played in the ’90s.

1) Tony Daly (AUS) – 79%
2) James Dalton (SA) – 91%
3) Craig Dowd (NZ) – 78%
4) John Eales (AUS) – 78%
5) Robin Brooke (NZ) – 77%
6) Michael Jones (NZ) – 75%
7) Josh Kronfeld (NZ) – 80%
8) Dean Richards (ENG) – 81%

9) Joost van der Westhuizen (SA) – 77%
10) Michael Lynagh (AUS) – 78%
11) Jeff Wilson (NZ) – 76%
12) Tim Horan (AUS) – 78%
13) Dan Herbert (AUS) – 82%
14) David Campese (AUS) – 75%
15) Christian Cullen (NZ) – 78%

2000s (40+ Caps)

Once again the threshold has been raised with the advent of professionalism meaning players being involved in more games and enjoying longer careers.

It may come as no surprise to you that the entire side is made up of All Blacks. Although John Mitchell’s squad suffered a shock in losing to Australia in the 2003 World Cup semi-final, they were an impressive outfit throughout the early years of the decade before Graham Henry made his mark.

Not a single member of England’s World Cup winning squad of 2003 is featured here, which shows how badly the Red Rose wilted after winning the William Webb Ellis trophy.

1) Tony Woodcock (NZ) – 84%
2) Kevin Mealamu (NZ) – 84%
3) Neemia Tialata (NZ) – 88%
4) Chris Jack (NZ) – 85%
5) Ali Williams (NZ) – 84%
6) Reuben Thorne (NZ) – 85%
7) Richie McCaw (NZ) – 87%
8) Rodney So’oialo (NZ) – 86%

9) Byron Kelleher (NZ) – 82%
10) Dan Carter (NZ) – 87%
11) Doug Howlett (NZ) – 85%
12) Aaron Mauger (NZ) – 86%
13) Tana Umaga (NZ) – 81%
14) Joe Rokocoko (NZ) – 80%
15) Leon MacDonald (NZ) – 90%

2010 to Present Day (40+ Caps)

Finally, to show you the kind of impact coach Steve Hansen has had on the All Blacks since he took charge, they make up the entire side for the past six years. Almost every single player has a win percentage of over 90, which is quite, quite stunning.

1) Wyatt Crockett (NZ) – 97%
2) Kevin Mealamu (NZ) – 90%
3) Owen Franks (NZ) – 92%
4) Brodie Retallic (NZ) – 94%
5) Sam Whitelock (NZ) – 91%
6) Jerome Kaino (NZ) – 89%
7) Richie McCaw (NZ) – 91%
8) Kieran Read (NZ) – 91%

9) Aaron Smith (NZ) – 92%
10) Dan Carter (NZ) – 90%
11) Julian Savea (NZ) – 92%
12) Ma’a Nonu (NZ) – 93%
13) Conrad Smith (NZ) – 91%
14) Corey Jane (NZ) – 87%
15) Israel Dagg (NZ) – 92%

For all those arguing that the All Blacks side that won in 2015 was the best ever team in rugby then these statistics might just provide you with a little more evidence of the total control New Zealand have had over rugby since 2004. It is truly astonishing.

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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