Australia win Tri Nations but loss keeps All Blacks’ hunger building
In the eighties British band Duran Duran used to scream out “Is anybody hungry?” before playing their hit song Hungry Like the Wolf at concerts. The crowd would erupt into a frenzy of emotion and shout, sing, dance and make the track one of the highlights of any Duran Duran concert.
Last night the All Blacks lost the Tri Nations decider to the Wallabies and Australia got their hands on the trophy for just the third time in 16 years but quite frankly they are welcome to it, for now anyway! Sure I was hoping that New Zealand would come back at the death and score a match winning converted try but it didn’t happen and just like the All Blacks I’m not crying. Losing in the black jersey never feels good, it gets you a little mad, a little down, but also makes you hungry for revenge. In life you have to go without something in order to value it, and while the All Blacks know what going without the World Cup feels like, it sure won’t hurt for them to be heading to the World Cup with losses to South Africa and Australia fresh in their minds. In 2011 it’s the World Cup that counts and everyone knows it.
In modern rugby dominance often comes down to small things and the mental state of mind is absolutely critical. In the 2008 Tri Nations it was Australia who started strongly with a 34-17 win over the All Blacks, a week later New Zealand came back to record a 39-10 win, and in the third and deciding game the All Blacks took it out 28-24 in an epic encounter. Sure there were some improved tactics put in place by the All Black coaching team for games two and three but the lesson to be learned is not to get carried away with a good win as it doesn’t count for anything next time.
We have seen this time and time again, think 2003 Vs Australia, and 2007 Vs France, so this time I’m glad to be going into the World Cup with hunger burning in the All Blacks’ bellies. I’d even take it a step further and say that Australia might just be a tad more worried now about going into a knock-out match against New Zealand knowing just how pissed off the All Blacks are. And if that doesn’t make them worried then they might try and think back to their last win in New Zealand, or at Eden Park, if they can remember it that is!
Right now there is plenty of hunger building in the All Blacks’ collective soul and that’s just the way I like it. Piri Weepu and Ma’a Nonu have the fire burning after they missed out on selection for the 2007 cup squad. Ali Williams has just sat out two years of rugby. Tony Woodcock, Isaia Toeava, and Israel Dagg, are coming back from injuries that nearly cost them the chance of playing in a World Cup on home soil. Dan Carter will be pretty motivated after inexplicably being left on the bench by John Mitchell in the 2003 semi (Didn’t JM know that the biggest risk is not to take a risk?) and having to go off injured in the 2007 quarter final. Richie McCaw knows only too well the pain of defeat after suffering in it in both 2003 and 2007.
Rugby Writer David Long wrote that New Zealand’s World Cup hopes were “severely dented” after the loss to Australia in Brisbane, but after coming out Tri Nations winners before the last three World Cups and then falling short on the biggest stage I for one am not too worried about going into RWC 2011 with such a “dent”.
I’m sure Graham Henry didn’t need to say much in the All Blacks’ dressing room at Suncorp stadium late Saturday night, but if he was looking for a positive reaction in a moment of gloom he might just have taken a leaf from Duran Duran’s songbook and shouted out “Is anybody hungry?” Come late October that hunger will be more powerful than any felt at a Duran Duran concert as the All Blacks run out onto Eden Park and four million Kiwis erupt into a frenzy of emotion and shout and sing. Hopefully later that night they will be dancing in celebration!
All Blacks undisputed Tri Nations Kings
Saturday’s match was the last to be played in the Tri Nations as from 2012 Argentina will add their brand of colour and passion to international rugby’s toughest tournament. It will be great to have the Pumas around as 16 years of playing Australia and South Africa has been just a little too much. But as the Tri Nations ends and the Southern 4 Nations bursts into a brave new life its worth reflecting on the All Blacks incredible 3N record. Ten times the All Blacks have lifted the Tri Nations trophy compared to just three each for Australia and South Africa. Of 72 games the All Blacks have won 50 and lost 22 for an amazing 69% winning record. They have won 83% of games played in New Zealand and 56% of away games. After 16 years the All Blacks are the undisputed Tri Nations Kings. Congratulations NZ!
All Blacks in the Tri Nations - Key Numbers
10 Tri Nations championship wins
69% Winning record – 50 wins from 72 games
69% Winning record Vs Australia – 25 wins from 36 games
69% Winning record Vs South Africa – 25 wins from 36 games
83% Home winning record – 30 wins from 36 games
56% Away winning record – 20 wins from 36 games
Record nine match winning streak – 2009(1), 2010(6), 2011(2)
4 Consecutive championship wins – 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
Only team to win all six games – 2010
Unbeaten four times – 1996, 1997, 2003, 2010
Australia winning record 41%
South Africa winning record 40%