Mixed thoughts for All Blacks about perfect season
James Mortimer 05 Nov 2013 Getty Images
Sides throughout the ‘amateur’ era notched perfect seasons, but with one to two Tests per year at times, this was not recognised as a significant achievement.
Unbeaten campaigns have been achieved since the game went pro, by the All Blacks in 1997 under John Hart, but a 26-26 draw against England at Twickenham prevented perfection, and some English analysts believe that was the result that began the Red Rose’s ascent to glory six years later.
It was one of the first times that a side had done a victory lap after squaring scores against an opponent.
Ireland in 2009, fresh off a Grand Slam, had an understrength team navigate North America unbeaten to arrive back home with eight straight wins and a flawless ledger in sight, but a 20-20 draw against the Wallabies – the match in which the Irish could well have won with such a powerful finish – halted Declan Kidney’s potential rise to the history books.
In 1996, 2005, 2006 and 2010 the All Blacks went through the season with just the solitary loss.
But history books are merciless and are still to have the word ‘perfect’ etched into their calendar records.
Some players, such as the younger members of the squad like Beauden Barrett, had spoken about the potential feat prior to Tokyo.
“It's been a goal of ours ever since we came over here to finish with four wins to top off a great season,” he said.
However All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, towing the party line of only looking ahead to the next match, said it would not be a topic floating around the training field as they prepare for France in their 12th Test of the season.
“It's something that's in the background, it's for other people to talk about,” Hansen said.
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