The House of Pain
March 31, 2011
Tana Umaga leads the haka at Carisbrook in 2005 © Getty Images
Following the devastating events of the Christchurch earthquake, Dunedin will step up to the plate and host England, Argentina and Georgia during the Rugby World Cup. The venue will be the under-construction Forsyth Barr Stadium, where the city's fans will hope to create a fortress to rival the legendary Carisbrook, which closed its doors on international rugby in 2010. As a handy reminder of Dunedin's unique contribution to New Zealand rugby history, we've collated some of our favourite matches at the 'House of Pain' in Scrum Sevens.
New Zealand 10-6 South Africa, 1956
The 1956 Springboks were the first to lose a series in the history of South African rugby, and their slide began at Carisbrook. Seeds of doubt had been planted following a drawn series with the Lions a year earlier and their New Zealand tour started with a provincial loss to Waikato, but the tourists nevertheless rode an eight-match winning streak into the first Test. Having lost the previous rubber between the sides 4-0 in 1949, the All Blacks began their revenge with a narrow win in Dunedin, where Wellington winger Ron Jarden bagged a try and two conversions, lock 'Tiny' White also crossing. Both teams lost players to injury, the game finishing as a 14 v 13 contest in favour of the hosts, and while the Boks bit back to win the second Test, New Zealand prevailed 3-1 overall.
New Zealand 18-17 British & Irish Lions, 1959
Never has a nickname been more deserved. In 1959, Don Clarke, the giant All Black fullback dubbed 'The Boot' due to his exploits when kicking for posts, undid a free-flowing Lions side that scored four tries with six mighty swings of his foot. An old-fashioned toe kicker, Clarke starred with the boot on a number of occasions during his career and also had a large influence on the remainder of the tour, where the Lions fell in Wellington and Christchurch before winning a dead rubber in Auckland. His captain at Carisbrook, the legendary Wilson Whineray, celebrated his talents after the game, "On the field he was like a huge energy force behind you," he said. "Even when he missed a kick, it could have a devastating effect on the opposition. He could kick them from his own 10-yard line, and we'd find opposition hookers were afraid to move, and that loose-forwards would stay attached to scrums. He inhibited the whole opposition."
New Zealand 13-0 South Africa, 1965
The All Blacks produced another series win over South Africa in 1965, and it was the second leg of a 3-1 win, at Carisbrook, that caught the eye. With Whineray as skipper and the legendary Colin 'Pinetree' Meads winning a record-equalling 32nd cap the All Blacks were dominant, scoring three tries through Ron Rangi, Bruce McLeod and Kel Tremain to secure a then-record winning margin against the Springboks. South Africa fought back to win the third tie between the sides in Christchurch before the hosts outdid themselves to secure another unprecedented win, triumphing 20-3 in Auckland.
New Zealand 3-9 British & Irish Lions, 1971
The All Blacks' record at Carisbrook was so good that their defeats at the ground often became more memorable than their numerous victories. This was one such occasion as Barry John steered Carwyn James' famous Lions side to a narrow victory, ending the successful career of New Zealand fullback Fergie McCormick in the process. The tourists lost Gareth Edwards early on due to a troublesome hamstring problem, meaning that John was paired for most of the game with another Welshman, Ray 'Chico' Hopkins. The fly-half did not skip a beat and tormented McCormick with his arsenal of punts, taking time out to land two penalties. Prop Ian McLauchlan scored the game's only try and the Lions held out for a classic smash and grab win, the All Blacks having dominated long periods of the game only to be undone by the visitors' playmaker.
New Zealand 31-27 South Africa, 2005
This Tri-Nations encounter was notable for the introduction of the new 'Kapo o Pango' haka, which was led with spine-tingling passion, throat-slits and all, by All Blacks skipper Tana Umaga. The ensuing game saw a below-par New Zealand scrape across the finish line thanks to a late score from hooker Keven Mealamu, which propelled them into contention for another Tri-Nations title. Joe Rokocoko and Leon MacDonald also scored for the All Blacks but their own mistakes laid tries on for Bryan Habana, Jaque Fourie and Ricky Januarie. They eventually completed the turnaround with a win over Australia on the last weekend of the tournament, winning top prize thanks to superior points difference.
New Zealand 28-30 South Africa, 2008
Every now and again a victory smashes so many long-standing records that it's hard to know where to start. Ricky Januarie's brilliant solo try four minutes from the end of this Tri-Nations encounter was a score worthy of winning any game, but it had added significance given the recent history between rugby's greatest rivals. Defeat meant that the All Blacks' world record run of home victories came to an end at 30, while the South Africans were able to celebrate a first victory on New Zealand soil in a decade. It was also their first win at Carisbrook in eight visits. While they won this battle, the All Blacks won the war, racking up a comeback Tri-Nations title after the horrors of their Rugby World Cup exit against France.
New Zealand 42-9 Wales, 2010
The final All Blacks Test at Carisbrook was a huge occasion, but the visitors failed to deliver a credible challenge on the field. Wales scrapped and battled for the opening period as they searched for a first win over New Zealand since 1953, but their second-half efforts were way below what was required and allowed Graham Henry's side to send the 102-year-old ground off in style. The All Blacks ran 27 unanswered points past their hapless visitors, with Dan Carter to the fore with a brace of tries, four penalties and three conversions. "It was just a good way to say thank you to this ground," was Henry's neat summation of proceedings.
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