Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
16 August 2014
Oh sure, if New Zealand wins tonight in Sydney against the Wallabies those of the NZSSA (The New Zealand Sycophantic Sportswriter's Association), will no doubt trumpet to the heavens that our famous All Blacks will have 'set a world record' of 'Tier 1' test victories in a row. But will the NZSSA's claim hold up against a deeper 'Nicky Hager' search?
If the All Blacks win they will have moved to 18 test victories in a row. They have not lost a match since the 38-21 drubbing they received from England in December 2012. (The NZSSA called the All Blacks that night 'a tired team at the end of a long season.' Wow! Deep reporting there boys and heavily insulting to England.)
But what needs to be addressed is; what about Cyprus?
This little rugby Mediterranean powerhouse has a record of sequential international test success in 2014 which is way ahead of New Zealand's.
Look at the facts; as of before the game in Sydney the (NZSSA's) claim the All Blacks have 17 test wins against 'Tier 1' countries. And yes that is impressive. But is it any better than Rugby's Cyprus's team, 'The Moufflons,' record in their current level of 23 wins on the trot?
In terms of cold facts it is not. But we all understand rugby scoring. 23 always beats 17.
As a rugby nation do we not have regard for the 'minnow's of our so-called beloved global game? I think Cyprus deserves our respect. And praise.
The Cypriot sequence of wins have all come in the European National Championship (2nd Division) run by Rugby Europe (formerly FIRA - the Federation of Rugby Amateur, founded in 1931).
Cyprus has been unbeaten since their record run began on 29 November 2008 when they beat Azerbaijan by 37-3. Since then they have beaten 'all comers' either at home in Paphos or in away matches at their level of competition. Their most recent game was a 46-13 win over Hungary in Paphos on 17 May 2014.
A look at the results tells us than they play regularly against other teams like Israel, Luxembourg, Austria, Bulgaria, Slovenia etc - and if those teams don't make the headlines as 'Tier 1' countries - surely they do at a lesser, but no less significant level?
It must be said that Cyprus was denied entry into the qualification play before the 2015 Rugby World Cup as they had 'not met the necessary membership criteria' to belong to the International Rugby Board. However Cyprus has been in Rugby Europe (formerly FIRA) since 2006 and Rugby Europe operates under the umbrella of the IRB! So surely to dismiss or ignore their record, as some are doing, is semantics only.
Looking at it from another direction; We would not dismiss any records set by the Cypriot tennis star Marcos Baghdatis would we? Because he came from that land? We would celebrate his success surely. Surely our rugby media should do the same for the Mighty Moufflons!
FOOTNOTE I: By the way, it just so happens that the All Blacks, via the NZSSA's flattery, do claim a 54-6 win over Japan in Tokyo last year as part of their current wonderful 17-game winning sequence.
I have a tremendous regard for Japanese rugby and its very real recent progress - but are they 'Tier 1' yet on the world scene? Really? However using my earlier logic I certainly include Japan as a worthy part of the New Zealand list of wins.
By my reckoning the All Blacks will not go to the world record of wins in a row - that's if they even get there - until their 24th win - and that could be not until the game against Australia in Brisbane on the 18th of October this year. I don't know why all the sycophants of the New Zealand news media aren't promoting that game. After all it'd be another cosy trip for many of them!
FOOTNOTE II; Meanwhile on the other side of the debate, perhaps back in the Mediterranean the 'Moufflons' might also be adding more to their inspiring total too. Their 2014-15 season has just begun.
Being fair we should all hope they do.
FOOTNOTE III: A 'Moufflon' is a breed of reclusive horned mountain sheep found in the hills of beautiful Cyprus. The Cyprus Rugby Federation has been proud to nickname their winning international rugby team after such an impressive animal. Horned sheep are famous for butting heads with those around them. Enough said?
Source; The Wikipedia entry for Cyprus National Rugby Union Team has the full list of Cyprus test scores.
Anti-tour protests and police surrounding the ground in Christchurch made this a tough watch for the fans. But NZ beat South Africa on this day in the first test by 14-9.
Wellington and New Zealand
18 internationals for N. Zealand 1987–89
One of the rugby union world's most brilliant attacking fullbacks of the 1980s but who at the peak of his rugby union powers, was lost to rugby league.
John Gallagher was a young fullback living in London who decided to accept an offer of a rugby-playing holiday in Wellington, New Zealand in 1984. By 1986 his life had changed. He had decided to stay in New Zealand, he had embarked on a career with the police force, and late in the year he was included with the New Zealand All Blacks for their tour to France. He was very much a second-stringer on that tour, playing twice at centre.
It was a different matter in 1987. Given the confidence of being chosen as the number one fullback for the first Rugby World Cup, Gallagher’s speed and brilliant intrusions from fullback became a powerful weapon in the All Black armoury.
In his second test match, against Fiji at Christchurch, Gallagher scorched in for four tries (equalling the then New Zealand record for one test match) and helped make many more as the All Blacks raced out to a 74–13 win.
Gallagher played five of the All Blacks’ games at the World Cup, including the final, and was seen as one of the tournament’s most brilliant players. That kind of form followed him through 1988 and 1989, on four other All Black tours.
In May 1990, Gallagher, by then firmly ensconced as one of the country’s most popular sporting heroes, suddenly announced that he was heading for rugby league. The news sent shock waves through New Zealand rugby circles. There was at first disbelief and a little scorn from some, although soon emotions quietened and sensible Kiwis wished him luck in his new career.
The departure of Gallagher to rugby league, along with fellow All Blacks Frano Botica, John Schuster and Matthew Ridge, awakened New Zealanders to the realisation that their national game was not the only one on the sporting horizon. The departure of ‘Kipper’ Gallagher also left an extremely hard-to-fill gap in the All Black backline. No player would be quite like the flying redhead from the Oriental-Rongotai club in Wellington.
Gallagher signed with the Leeds rugby league club after 18 tests for the All Blacks. He scored 13 tries in tests, and in one game, in Japan in 1987, he scored 30 points. His signing fee was reported to be $NZ1.3 million (at the time about £420,000), well in excess of the previous reported world record fee.
Who played ten tests for the All Blacks - but only in NZ?