Do you think you know all there is to know about New Zealand’s All Blacks? Well, keep reading.
We’ve put together ten facts, records and statistics about the world’s greatest rugby team that might just surprise you.
10) There have been 1,153 All Blacks so far, but only 838 have been test players
The latest All Black is, of course, Anton Lienert-Brown, but the first official All Black was James Allan, who was part of the first ever national representative tour that went to Australia in 1884.
Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago were each given a quota of five players to select for the tour, with Canterbury providing the captain William Millton.
However, James Duncan (All Black #69) is the first recognised test player for New Zealand, if one takes a test as a match between two international representative teams. He started against Australia in the 1903 in his only test.
9) 162 players have only ever won one cap for New Zealand
To put that in comparison, 343 England players have earnt one cap in total, for Wales it is 224, Ireland 232, France 232 and Scotland 214.
You can start to understand why New Zealanders value the black jersey so highly.
8) There have been just 67 test captains of the All Blacks
The aforementioned James Duncan was the first All Blacks captain in official test rugby, but there have been some pretty special names that have led the most famous of rugby nations.
Going beyond recent memory, Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford captained the side on 14 occasions, winning 13 of those matches. Hooker Andy Dalton won 15 of the 17 matches he was in charge of. The much-maligned flanker Reuben Thorne won 20 of his 23 matches as captain and Tana Umaga won 18 of his 21 tests as leader. Of course, Sean Fitzpatrick’s record goes without saying.
7) New Zealand loves the Sydney Cricket Ground
They have won more away games at the ground than any other stadium with 17 victories in 28 games. The All Blacks are similarly fond of the Millennium Stadium, where they have won all nine tests against Wales (despite the loss to France in 2007!)
6) New Zealand has drawn just sixteen of its test matches
The first was a 5 – 5 draw in Sydney against Australia way back in 1907. The most recent was the 12 – 12 draw to the same team in the same city back in 2014. In fact, seven of those games have been against Australia over the years, showing how intense the rivalry has been beaten the two nations.
5) Only two All Blacks have seen red
How’s that for discipline? Only Cyril Brownlie in 1925 and Colin Meads in 1967 have ever seen red for the All Blacks in test rugby.
The story, however, is somewhat different when it comes to yellow cards, with 47 All Blacks having received yellows in their careers. Captain Kieran Read has received the most with four, with Richie McCaw, Kees Meeuws, Sam Whitelock and Tony Woodcock all on three.
4) Richie McCaw has scored more tries against the Wallabies than any other player
That’s right, legendary openside McCaw has scored 11 tries against Australia, the same number as Ma’a Nonu. He has scored more than speedsters Doug Howlett and Christian Cullen – both with 8.
3) If New Zealand are losing at half-time, half the time they go on to win or draw.
Of the 172 games New Zealand have been down at half-time, they have won 81 of those and drawn 10. You simply cannot afford to ease off against the Kiwis at any point in a game as Joe Schmidt’s Ireland learnt rather recently.
2) They find it hard to score tries against South Africa a lot of the time
In 40 games New Zealand has scored 117 tries against England, which equates to under three tries a game. Against Ireland, it is 106 in 28 games or 3.786 tries a game.
Against Australia it works out as 2.65 tries a game, but against South Africa it is 2.087 tries a match. The Springboks have always known how to shut out the New Zealanders, which makes this year’s Rugby Championship so particularly painful for them.
1) It’s a lot of fun playing Italy
New Zealand has played the Italians 12 times now, winning on every occasion. Over those 12 games they have scored 568 points, meaning on average they tend to score 47.3 points a game. In contrast, Italy has only ever scored 97 points against the team, meaning on average they only scored just over eight points a game.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena