Men in Black

An insight by Andrew Howie

With just over a year to go until the 2011 RWC in New Zealand, the home nation is executing a familiar script. Over the past fortnight they have given the reigning world champions a hiding in the Tri Nations tournament. They have done so with conviction and with great sense of purpose.

They appear so strong that teams around the globe are no doubt beginning to fear that this may finally be their turn to shine.

The All Blacks have not won the tournament since they co-hosted the event in 1987 with Australia. They have managed second in 1995 and third on two other occasions. These statistics are the root much sledging, slandering and ridicule from both the New Zealand and international press.

Despite entering each tournament as the favorite on many occasions, they carry a cloud of doubt over their ability to convert when it really matters.

They are the current holders of the Bledisloe Cup and have been for the last 7 years. They have dropped a meager 3 games of a possible 19 over that period. To say they have been dominant does a disservice to their quality of play.

Whilst not currently holding the Tri nations trophy, they have won 6 of the last 8 years and a grand total of 9. That is more than Australia and South Africa combined.

So as we find ourselves in the grips of another Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup series, the team that is arguably the premier in International Rugby is again flexing its muscle. With the World Champions neutralized, all that is left is for them to apply the same treatment to the rebuilding Wallabies.

But the question still remains about their ability to maintain this menacing form when the time comes to shine. Will this fearsome group of men in black turn up in 2001 and finally accept what is rightfully theirs?

Only time will tell.