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Wallabies v All Blacks – News and comprehensive expert opinion

When it comes to rivalries in international rugby, there is one series that stands above all others: Wallabies versus All Blacks. For nearly 80 years, Australia and New Zealand rugby sides have contested the Bledisloe Cup, now an annual competition between the two nations that forms part of the Tri Nations competition. Literally and figuratively, it is the single biggest trophy in rugby union.

The Bledisloe Cup was named after NZ Governer-General Lord Bledisloe in 1931 after a match between the All Blacks and Wallabies at Eden Park, Auckland. Contested on an irregular basis during its early years, the Bledisloe Cup was initially dominated by the All Blacks, with the Wallabies securing the first victory at the SCG in 1934.

Annual Bledisloe Cup clashes between the Wallabies and All Blacks commenced in 1981, and the series has moved from strength to strength since then. After four consecutive All Black series victories, the 1986 Wallabies, led by Nick Farr-Jones and David Campese, recorded their first victory in 37 years.

As rugby moved into professionalism during the mid-1990s, and television exposure continued to increase, coverage of the Bledisloe Cup reached new levels, culminating in the ‘Greatest Test Ever Played’ in 2000, when nearly 110,000 spectators watched Jonah Lomu crash over in the closing minutes for a 39-35 in an unforgettable match.

The All Blacks have continued to assert their dominance over the Wallabies in recent years, winning eight out of the past ten Tri Nations series against them, and comprehensively beating the Wallabies 20-6 in the semi-final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

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Wallabies vs All Blacks The Bledisloe Cup 16 Aug 2014

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie says the All Blacks don’t have a mortgage on the Bledisloe Cup but warned his players to be on guard for New Zealand mind games.

After more than a decade of trans-Tasman misery, Australia will head into the first Test against New Zealand on August 16 with confidence high on the back of a seven-match winning streak.

But in Sydney they’ll have to contend with a hungry All Blacks side vying for a world record 18th-consecutive Test win.

McKenzie says the blockbuster billing is tailor-made for hype and expectation to go through the roof, with outspoken All Blacks coach Steve Hansen a likely ringleader.

“I noticed he was spritely against England (last week), so he’s warming up, yes,” said McKenzie.

“Coaches like myself who don’t have to run on the field might say things at times to make things interesting … the talk ends up getting done by people that don’t have to actually go out there and play the game.

“We’re going to have to put up with lots of people talking and speculating about our prospects.
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“It won’t be coming from us.

“The reality is the task is what it’s – you’re playing against the No.1 side in the world.”

Australia’s current winning run is the longest since the Wallabies were last world champions in 1999-2000, and the impact of Israel Folau and Will Skelton against France suggests Australia may finally possess the strikepower to end a dynasty.

McKenzie says there’s every reason for Australia to believe that a slice of history could be within reach following the clean-sweep over France.

“There’s no mortgage on these sorts of things,” he said.

“They’ve obviously dominated for a period of time and they’re not going to hand it over.

“We’ve got to go out there and win it. We’ve got to get everything right.”

McKenzie didn’t even wait until Sunday morning to fly his players home, with the focus now back on the end of the Super Rugby season.

Australia won’t be thinking too far ahead until they know exactly what personnel they’ll have available when they reassemble for the Bledisloe and Rugby Championship in August.

McKenzie is pleased with the consistency and self-belief of his squad, and is relishing a chance to properly prepare his side after last year being appointed just two weeks before the first Bledisloe Test.

But he warned a lot can change before his players come back.

“Fitness will be a big part of the equation for both teams. (Star New Zealand forward) Kieran Read has missed a lot of rugby for instance, that’s an example that you can have great players that suddenly aren’t there,” he said.

“We’ve developed our depth and different types of options. Sam Carter should be back, Joe Tomane will be available, Luke Burgess has come back early and Will Genia is a chance.

“We’re preparing ourselves as best we can but you still have to face the music on the night.”

 

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