Rugby: How good are the All Blacks after back-to-back defeats?

It’s often said you don’t want to play an All Blacks’ side coming off a loss. But what about an All Blacks side coming off two defeats?

It’s happened 30 times in All Blacks history. Here’s a look at the last seven occasions the men in black have lost two in a row.

2011
Lost 5-18 to South Africa, lost 20-25 to Australia
Next test – Beat Tonga 41-10

Not the ideal lead up to the Rugby World Cup but it worked out in the end. Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Dan Carter skipped the trip to Port Elizabeth after a crazy travel schedule in 2011 which had already seen the Crusaders go to London and South Africa twice. But their availability a week later in Brisbane wasn’t much of a boost with the side trailing 20-3 at the break. There was also the awkward situation of a World Cup squad being named after the Springboks test which saw Hosea Gear and Liam Messam missing out after starting in the loss.

Graham Henry’s side kicked off the World Cup tournament with a streaky win over Tonga to end the losing streak. That then turned into a 20-test unbeaten streak including the 8-7 final over France at Eden Park.

2009
Lost 19-28 to South Africa, lost 19-31 to South Africa
Next test – Beat Australia 19-18

Back-to-back defeats in South Africa for a still fairly young team. The All Blacks responded with a late win over the Wallabies three weeks later thanks to a last-minute Dan Carter penalty, after he missed the South Africa trip. However, the Springboks pulled off a 3-0 clean sweep over the ’09 All Blacks two weeks later in Hamilton.

2008
Lost to South Africa 28-30, lost to Australia 19-34
Next test – Beat Australia 39-10

The 2008 side were still finding their feet following the World Cup quarter-final exit a year earlier. But at least this side saw the beginning of the great Conrad Smith-Ma’a Nonu combination which would survive until halftime of the 2015 final.After losing back-to-back Tri Nations games, the All Blacks recovered to lift the trophy after impressive victories over the Wallabies at Eden Park (heard that before?) and the Springboks in Cape Town (an underrated 19-0 win). They then finished the year with a grand slam, New Zealand’s third ever, winning all four tests by at least 19 points. Only Munster (18-16) in a midweek game got close.

2004
Lost to Australia 18-23, lost to South Africa 26-40
Next test – Beat Italy 59-10

The two defeats saw New Zealand go from front-runners to last in the Tri Nations as the Boks secured a second title. At the time, the 40 conceded at Ellis Park was the fourth most points scored against the All Blacks. It was three months before the All Blacks played again,which was an easy win in Rome followed by a one-point win over Wales and a 45-6 thumping of France to end the year.

2000
Lost to Australia 23-24, lost to South Africa 40-46
Next test – Beat France 39-26

The John Eales test, followed by losing to a South African side who themselves had lost four on the trot. They didn’t look it at Ellis Park however in a high-scoring yet error-ridden game. The All Blacks became the first test team to lose a game after scoring 40 points while South Africa’s 46 was the most ever against New Zealand before the Wallabies’ 47-26 rout in Perth last year. How did the All Blacks respond? They had to wait until a two-test tour of France three months later, winning the first test before their defence proved leaky again in a 42-33 loss in Marseille.

1999
Lost to France 31-43, lost to South Africa 18-22
Next test – Beat Tonga 102-0

The only time the All Blacks have lost consecutive tests at a World Cup when France pulled off the stunning semifinal win at Twickenham and then they had to front in the bronze medal match five days later in Cardiff. Wayne Smith took over as coach the following year and began with a century-cracking win. But the side lost three tests that year (as above).

1998
Lost to Australia 16-24, lost to South Africa 3-13, lost to Australia 23-27, lost to South Africa 23-24, lost to Australia 14-19.
Next test – Beat Samoa 71-13

Yes Millennials,there was a period not that long ago when the All Blacks lost five straight tests. It was a dark time and we didn’t have Twitter to unleash ‘brutal’ comments towards Taine Randell, Royce Willis and Carlos Spencer. No end of year tour that year so the All Blacks were left to stew on those five losses for 10 months.

Hopefully, for the sake of the current squad, they are not put in the same position again this year.


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