Forget the World Cup victory of 2003, England’s series win in 2016 has far more historical significance.
Before this series, England and Australia had faced each other 44 times. On those 44 occasions, England had won just 18 of those games with Australia being the victors 25 times.
But in terms of victories Down Under, the win has even more resonance. Of the seventeen visits England had made to the country, they had won only three – all in the professional era: 2003 (twice) and once in 2010.
To put that into perspective then, England has won the same amount of times in Australia in three weeks as they have done in 107 years of matches between the pair.
If we look at the number of times England has ever won in the Southern Hemisphere against the big three, one starts to understand the importance of this series win.
19 June 2010: Australia 20 – England 21 at Stadium Australia, Sydney
22 November 2003: Australia 17 – England 20 at the Telstra Stadium, Sydney
21 June 2003: Australia 14- England 24 at the Colonial Stadium, Melbourne
14 June 2003: New Zealand 13 – England 15 at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
24 June 2000: South Africa 22 – England 27 at Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
4 June 1994: South Africa 15 – 32 England at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria
15 September 1973: New Zealand 10 – 16 England at Eden Park, Auckland
3 June 1972: South Africa 9 – 18 England at Ellis Park, Johannesburg
That’s it, ladies and gentlemen. A grand total of eight victories in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa since the beginning of Test rugby.
Now that Eddie Jones has started to repair England’s reputation in Australia, he still has an awful lot to do against the Springboks and the All Blacks.
Even though Stuart Lancaster’s England triumphed over New Zealand at Twickenham in 2012, that was first time since 2003 that England had beaten the men in black. In total, England has only ever beaten the All Blacks seven times out of forty matches.
Against South Africa, the record is not much better. In 37 games, the Red Rose has only triumphed 12 times. Stuart Lancaster, Martin Johnson and Brian Ashton all failed to beat the Springboks and the last coach to do so was Andy Robinson back in the Autumn Internationals of 2006.
The Northern Hemisphere has often been accused of being second-rate in comparison to the giants of the Southern Hemisphere and, indeed, the statistics do seem to back this up.
France has the best record of all the Six Nations countries, having won fourteen games against the Southern Hemisphere giants away from home – including four wins in New Zealand, six wins against South Africa and four against Australia – but the last of those victories was back in 2009 against the All Blacks.
Ireland has won four games: the solitary victory against South Africa a few weeks ago and three victories against Australia – one from 1967 and two in 1979. Scotland has beaten Australia twice, once in Brisbane in 1982 and their miraculous defensive battle in Newcastle in 2012.
Wales beat Australia 19 – 16 all the way back in 1969 in Sydney and that is it.
In 214 Test matches the Northern Hemisphere big five have won 32 matches or 15% of the games. When the Southern Hemisphere trio have visited Europe, they have won 196 of 296 games – or 66%.
Historically, there has been a huge disparity between the performances of the North and the South when playing away. Therefore England’s three Test series win in Australia – the first time Australia has lost a three test series 3-0 at home since 1971 – is of colossal historical significance. Eddie Jones and his England players genuinely are rugby pioneers.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
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