England's rare win over the All Blacks
December 1, 2012
The England side that recorded the first ever win over New Zealand © PA Photos
England had tackled the All Blacks on 34 occasions, but had only been on the right side of the result in six matches - until Saturday December 1, 2012. Following England's historic 38-21 triumph over the All Blacks. ESPNscrum looks back at the six previous wins over their antipodean rivals.
England 13-0 New Zealand, January 4, 1936
England's first victory over the New Zealand All Blacks was as emphatic as it was surprising. In what has passed into rugby folklore as 'Obolensky's Match', New Zealand were outplayed as well as beaten in the 28th, and last, match of their tour. But it was Prince Alexander Obolensky who was the star of the show. He scored two tries against the Kiwis and his first score would have been the highlight of many a match but his second try is still talked about at Twickenham.
Obolensky took a pass from Peter Candler wide on the right but his path was blocked. He veered left to avoid would-be tackler Mitchell and just kept going, leaving All Black defenders utterly bemused and wrong-footed, so far left that he might have been ushered into touch had he not turned inside, again untouched, and scored on the left, in Twickenham's north-west corner. Hal Sever added another score in the second-half and England secured a memorable victory.
New Zealand 10-16 England, September 15, 1973
Although The Times claimed in the run up to the match that the England forward's inability to win the ball at least 40 per cent of the time meant that "New Zealanders powerfully favour the All Blacks to win", two days later the newspaper claimed that "England's victory over New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday must be written down as one of the greatest - and most unexpected - achievements in rugby history".
Tries from Tony Neary, Peter Squires and Stack Stevens consigned the Kiwis to the defeat in Auckland in front of a packed 56,000 Eden Park crowd. The team consisted of the now legendary names of Fran Cotton, Roger Uttley and Andy Ripley while their skipper John Pullin was part of the British & Irish Lions team that defeated the Kiwis two years before on their famous tour.
England 15-9 New Zealand, November 19, 1983
Since their heroics of 1973, England had lost two on the bounce against the Kiwis and had secured just one Five Nations crown. Bearing in mind they had to wait until 1991 for their next, after their 1980 triumph, this was not a vintage England side. But they wrote themselves into the history books with a hard-fought win over the Kiwis and consigned the Kiwis to their first international loss in Britain for 30 years.
England's Nick Youngs passes the ball to Peter Wheeler back in 1983 © PA Photos
England boasted Dusty Hare in their ranks, who was regarded as one of the world's best goal-kickers at the time, and their line-up also had many more caps than their antipodean counterparts. The New Zealanders were heavily criticised for their sometimes dubious take on tackling, but England weathered the storm and emerged 15-9 victors thanks to Maurice Colclough's try and a conversion and three penalties from the boot of Hare.
England 15-9 New Zealand, November 27, 1993
Just over ten years after their previous win over the All Blacks, England ran in the same result in front of another packed Twickenham crowd. It was a youthful England that took to the stage with Jon Callard and Kyran Bracken making their debuts. While England put in a physically assured performance, they were aided by Jeff Wilson's wayward kicking with the Kiwi winger missing three kicks at the post in the first-half.
This was a new-look England with only five survivors in the team from their back-to-back Five Nations Grand Slam triumphs in 1991 and 1992 but they rallied against the All Blacks, survived various off-the-ball incidents and guided by skipper Will Carling - who was still hurting from the Lions' losing tour to New Zealand a few months prior - they cemented their status as potential challengers for the World Cup title in two years time.
England 31-28 New Zealand, November 9, 2002
Jonny Wilkinson offloads against the All Blacks in 2002 © Getty Images
The England XV that downed the Kiwis on that November day featured 13 players who would a little over a year later, cement their name in rugby history when they started the 2003 World Cup final against Australia. But against New Zealand, England were 17-14 up at half-time but were outscored two tries to one with the home side's solitary score coming through Lewis Moody. But they stormed away in the early part of the second 40 with Jonny Wilkinson, scoring a superb solo effort where he chipped the New Zealand defence and dotted the ball down, and Ben Cohen bagging tries. Jonah Lomu and Danny Lee crashed over for the Kiwis late on, but England held on for the win.
From flanker Richard Hill's point of view it was a game that England "had to win for our personal satisfaction and our personal development". And while the England coaching staff were pleased with their win, they were concerned about the manner in which they nearly let slip their 31-14 lead with Lomu terrorising their defence. Phil Larder, England's then defence coach, was asked in the aftermath how he would deal with Lomu in the future, he responded: "I'd probably work with the SAS and have somebody with an elephant gun in the stand."
New Zealand 13-15 England, June 14, 2003
It was England's first win in New Zealand for 30 years and it meant they went into the 2003 World Cup as favourites. Then coach Clive Woodward said that the crop of England players were "doing things that English teams haven't done" and went on to say that "my mind-set now is that, regardless of who plays, we can win". England went into a 9-6 lead in the first-half but were at one stage reduced to 13 men with Lawrence Dallaglio and Neil Back both in the sin-bin.
But Woodward's England side held out the Kiwis and did not concede a point in that precarious 10-minute spell. Jonny Wilkinson went on to knock over another penalty and a drop-goal while the Kiwis responded with Doug Howlett's try - but it was a score shrouded in controversy as both Howlett and Caleb Ralph were in front of the kicker at the re-start, however this was an age where the TMO was not allowed to intervene. Controversy aside, England took the win - their 12th consecutive victory on the bounce - and 11 games later, they were World Cup champions.
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Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
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