November 25 down the years
'The late, the early, and the stiff arm tackle'
An indoor haka for New Zealand in Cardiff in 2006 © Getty Images
The best Test of the All Blacks' tour was played out in Paris where New Zealand defeated France 21-15 in a contest described as "brutally hard, and at times just plain brutal … The late, the early, and the stiff arm tackle were handed out and accepted, as though that was what the game is all about". Brian Lochore, the tourists' captain, said it was "the hardest Test I have ever played". Colin Meads collected a three-stitch scalp wound behind his ear and both Earle Kirton and Ian Kirkpatrick broke their noses.
The All Blacks performed their haka in their dressing room before beating Wales 45-10 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The WRU had asked them to perform it between the anthems rather than after them - it wanted the Welsh national anthem to be their official response - but that was considered unacceptable. "The tradition needs to be honoured properly if we're going to do it," fumed All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw. "If the other team wants to mess around, we'll just do the haka in the shed (changing room). At the end of the day, haka is about spiritual preparation and we do it for ourselves. Traditionally fans can share the experience too and it's sad that they couldn't see it today. The players didn't take the decision lightly."
South Africa gave notice of their rising stock less than a year from the 2007 World Cup by defeating England 25-14 at Twickenham - their first success against the English after seven successive defeats in the previous six years. Defeat, thanks to a try by prop CJ van der Linde and 20 points from fly-half Andre Pretorius, piled pressure on England boss Andy Robinson following an earlier defeat to Argentina.
England's forwards were totally outplayed in a 16-6 loss to New Zealand at Twickenham but it was the selectors and RFU who copped the flak for the loss. "English rugby showed itself to be beautifully laundered--and completely amateurish," noted the Daily Mail. "If an England soccer team had displayed such comic ineptitude, the Football Association would be putting sandbags around Lancaster Gate this morning." The Daily Express said: "England's backs never had much hope of evading the strong All Black defence which smothered their few puny, paltry attacks like a blanket. And for the seventh consecutive tour game the New Zealanders did not concede a try."
Ireland and New Zealand met for the first time. The touring All Blacks were given a stern examination before running out 15-0 winners through three converted tries. Unfortunately the defeat was a taste of what was to come as New Zealand are yet to be beaten by Ireland, with Munster's win over the All Blacks in 1978 the closest they have come.
The planned Ulster-South Africa tour match was cancelled owing to fears of civil unrest in the province. The decision to abandon the match was taken after a meeting at Stormont of the Northern Ireland Security Committee in light of sectarian violence and general protests against the all-white Spingbok side.
Jason Leonard overtook Rory Underwood as England's most-capped player in a dour 19-0 win against Argentina, winning his 86th cap.