The ashes and sackcloth Wallabies fans are declaring woe is us, on the back of nine Bledisloe Cup defeats to the All Blacks, and not having won the Cup since 2002. However, the devil is as always in the statistics.
Which any “real” rugby fan would be aware of (i.e. the ashes lot are usually idle rugby fans, or “other media” briefly doing a piece on the Wallabies because media loves to report misery), as we have refined our self flagellation so we only beat ourselves up over worthwhile causes (of which there are plenty). So I will recap here for those who came late to the class.
From 1999 to 2005 there were only two games for the Bledisloe, as it was part of the Tri Nations where each team played each other twice. There was no third game. As such, the holder only needed to win one game to draw the series and keep the Cup. Indeed, the Wallabies retained the Cup in 2002 winning one of two games (having won both in 2001 – hah!).
2003 and 2005 saw the ABs win 2-0, but 2004 was split. 2006 saw a three game series won 3-0 by the boys in black (ouch). The series then went back to a two game series in 2007 (World Cup year), which was split 1-1.
Then in 2008 the ARU and NZRU commenced “Operation Foreign Cash Cow”, by extending it to four games and earning extra cash by playing the fourth in Hong Kong or Japan. Great for the coffers, not so good if you were trying to win the Cup back (i.e. the Wallabies) as you needed to win three of the four games.
So when considering whether we should all drown our sorrows and take up badminton to get away from the scary ABs, keep in mind that we haven’t made things easy for ourselves over the last eight years while that part of the trophy cabinet reserved for the Bledisloe has been empty.
New Zealand historically has been the dominant team up until the late 1990s, but the recent domination since 2003 has not been hurt by the ABS having a favourable wind in the format.
So fear not all true believers, the end to this black wash will come. Just keep in mind it’ll be easier if we manage to co-ordinate having a good team with playing only three games for the precious silverware!