Virus behind All Blacks' Twickenham defeat
ESPN Staff
November 12, 2013
England's Chris Ashton dives over to score, England v New Zealand, Twickenham, England, December 1, 2012
Chris Ashton scores during England's win in 2012 © PA Photos

As England prepare to play New Zealand on Saturday, a former All Blacks doctor claims that their 38-21 defeat at Twickenham last year was largely down to a stomach virus which swept through the squad in the build-up to the match.

Deb Robinson, who was the team's doctor for seven years, said players started falling in on the Tuesday night before the game and by the next day 20 of the squad were ill and confined to their rooms.

"The first I knew about it was when one of the players came knocking on my door at 10pm," Robinson told the Daily Mail<. "I got another knock on the door at 10.30. I thought it was the same player, but it was a different one. Shortly after that a third player complained of the same symptoms. I knew then we were in trouble.

"I was up that night treating players until 6am, giving them medication to stop the vomiting and a lot of fluids. The expectation was that this would take 48 hours to recover from. So if it had happened two days later, on the Thursday evening, we would have struggled to put a team together."

At the time, New Zealand coach Steve Hansen did not use the illness as an excuse for the defeat, although he admitted later it was a factor.

"At one stage we were worried whether we were going to be able to put a team out," he said. "The whole squad had it, but that's still not an excuse. We were outplayed. I thought England deserved to win and still do."

Richie McCaw, who captained the side, said: "If we'd fallen away at the end, you might have said [the illness was a factor], but we felt fine. We just struggled to get into the game."

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