Wales' unwanted record
June 17, 2010
Gareth Thomas and Shane Williams stand dejected after defeat by the All Blacks at the 2003 Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
Wales travel to face New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday with designs on ending a long wait. They have not tasted victory over the All Blacks since 1953, losing 21 consecutive games. Their victories have gone down in rugby folklore but are balanced out by some hammerings through the years. We take a look at seven of the best encounters in our latest Scrum Seven.
Wales 12-13 New Zealand, Cardiff Arms Park, 1978
Andy Haden's (first) moment of infamy. Trailing 12-10 with moments left after Wales had helped themselves to the lions' share of possession, the Kiwi lock flung himself theatrically from a lineout in an attempt to draw a penalty. English referee Roger Quittenton awarded one for a push by Geoff Wheel on Frank Oliver. Fullback Brian McKechnie stepped up and sent the ball through the sticks, with skipper Graham Mourie later coming clean after about planting the idea in Haden's head. "I know that some of the players later regretted it and their part in it," Mourie said. "But it was equally true that in that crucial, unforgiving minute in the searing heat of Cardiff Arms Park the match was won and the tour continued to its climax." The All Blacks went on to beat England 16-6 and Scotland 18-9 to complete their first Grand Slam tour.
Wales 13-8 New Zealand, Cardiff Arms Park, 1953
Ken Jones' late try, from a cross-field kick by Clem Thomas, at the Arms Park was the last time Wales scored a winner against the All Blacks. Rangy flanker Bill Clark had earlier bounded after a Garryowen to score the tourists' first, with Sid Judd scoring for Wales. Clark, on debut, controversially gave away the penalty that allowed wing Gwyn Rowlands to level the scores before Jones struck. Wales skipper Bleddyn Williams had weeks earlier tasted victory over the All Blacks as the captain of Cardiff and of course remains the last Welsh skipper to defeat New Zealand.
Wales 3-0 New Zealand, Cardiff Arms Park, 1905
The first meeting between the sides birthed a lingering controversy. Wales secured the spoils thanks to Teddy Morgan's try from a set move, but All Blacks centre Bob Deans went to his grave claiming that he had scored one in response. The referee ruled that he had been grounded short by the tackle of Wales' Rusty Gabe, but Deans was unrepentant. The Daily Mail correspondent J.A Buttery recorded the controversial play. "It looked an absolutely certain try," he wrote. "Winfield went for Wallace a dozen yards from the line, but ere he could reach him the ball had been passed out to Deans racing down the touchline. He, too, was collared, but not before he had grounded across the Welsh line, though the referee - whose decision is bound to be accepted in such matters declared that he had been 'held up,' and ordered a scrum instead of a place-kick."
Wales 13-12 New Zealand, Cardiff Arms Park, 1935
Winger Geoffrey Rees Jones scored a late try for 14-man Wales, who had lost hooker Don Tarr to a broken neck, securing victory in the same year that Haydn Tanner had shocked the All Blacks as Swansea's precocious scrum-half. The teenager made his Welsh debut in the Test in Cardiff, as did Tarr. When the hooker was left prone following a collapsed scrum, referee Cyril Gadney ordered him to be placed on the stretcher face down, saving his life. After near tragedy Wales secured their famous triumph with Rees-Jones' score, secured from a Wilfred Wooller kick ahead.
New Zealand 53-37 Wales, Stadium Australia, 2003
Mere months earlier a rampant All Blacks side had crushed Wales 55-3, signalling their status as favourites for the Rugby World Cup. In the pool stages of that tournament, Wales boss Steve Hansen pitted his side against his countrymen once again, this time going down all guns blazing. This game, and the quarter-final loss to England, gave hope to Welsh fans that flair remained part of their armoury. As gallant as they were, New Zealand were fitter and equally as dangerous with ball in hand. They found gear after gear as Wales tired, scoring eight tries to their four and ramming home the fact that on their day there remained a huge chasm between the sides.
New Zealand 19-0 Wales, Lancaster Park, 1969
Wales' first tour to New Zealand was not a happy affair as a reigning Five Nations champion side featuring many of the leading lights of their vintage 1970s team struggled to make an impact against the ruthless All Blacks. In the first Test at Lancaster Park the home side ran four tries, to Malcolm Dick, Ken Gray, Bruce McLeod and Brian Lochore, past the tourists, who included in their starting line-up Gareth Edwards, Barry John, JPR Williams, Gerald Davies, John Taylor and Mervyn Davies. The second Test was equally miserable as fullback Fergie McCormick booted the home side to a comfortable 33-12 victory at Eden Park.
Wales 25-26 New Zealand, Millennium Stadium, 2004
A game which ended in confusion over time-keeping, this was the one that got away for Wales. The home side led at the break thanks to a Tom Shanklin try and improved their lead with a score to hooker Mefin Davies, but the All Blacks consistently pegged them back with two tries to Joe Rokocoko and one for fullback Mils Muliaina. Gareth Thomas turned down a chance to go to the corner when unsure of the amount of time remaining, and all was lost. "Look at Paula Radcliffe. She had a real kick in the guts at the Olympics and has come back to win the New York Marathon. That is the way we have got to be,'' said head coach Mike Ruddock following the game. Wales did, winning their first Grand Slam since 1978 months later. There was one record that remained however.