Sunday, 12 July 2015

The All Blacks are not New Zealand’s most dominant sports team

Most have heard of the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team.

They have won over 76% of their Test matches and are the leading Test match points scorers of all time. 

The All Blacks are the only international side with a winning record against every country they have played, and since their international debut in 1903 only five nations have defeated them in Test matches.

Since the introduction of the World Rugby Rankings in October 2003, New Zealand has held number one ranking longer than all other teams combined, and they are the first team to win 400 Test matches.

But the All Blacks are not New Zealand’s most dominant sports team. And they have won the rugby world cup only twice in seven attempts, with a tendency to choke in crucial games.

The All Blacks Sevens are marginally better.

The Sevens have won twelve of the sixteen IRB Sevens World Series events.

Since 2000 when the series first started, the only times they have not won the series were in 2006 when Fiji were crowned champions, 2009 won by South Africa, 2010 when they came second to Samoa and 2015 when Fiji won the series.

But overall the team has won 47 tournaments out of 122 held. They have also won four Commonwealth gold medals in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010.

But they are not New Zealand’s most dominant sports team either.

That accolade, at least in recent years, goes to two rowers, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond (pictured above).

New Zealand have a long history of excellence in rowing and won the world championships in 2014.

Today they have won the World Rowing Cup III regatta at Lucerne with six golds and eleven medals overall. Britain came second, just ahead of Germany, with just three golds and eight medals overall.

Murray and Bond won gold in the men’s coxless pair in 6m 24s, a winning margin of only 3 seconds but a staggering 16 seconds outside their world record in the event of 6m 8s. In other words, they were just coasting.

The duo have been unbeaten since 2009 – winning gold in five consecutive world championships since 2009 along with the Olympic gold medal in 2012.

By September 2014 they had won 19 consecutive championships, an unbeaten streak stretching over six years and around 50 races.

Murray and Bond were judged the best male rowing crew in the world in 2011, 2013 and 2014 and are currently ranked 1 and 2 amongst the world's top ten male rowers on the World Rowing website.

Whether they can win their sixth consecutive world championship in 2015 and Olympic gold in Rio in 2016 remains to be seen but their reputation as New Zealand’s most dominant sports team is richly deserved.  

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