It’s been a decade of Maroon and Black
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With the Queensland Maroons winning their seventh straight Origin title, many have argued that they are the best rugby league team of all time.
Across the ditch, the World Champion All Blacks have shown no World Cup hangover and look ominous heading into this year’s Bledisloe Cup.
The main reason for Queensland’s success is their hugely talented individuals, some of whom will be remembered as the best ever in their positions, all playing at the same time. Similarly, in Rugby Union, New Zealand has a history of producing an unparalleled level of outstanding players that no other nation can match.
Not only is the talent being produced higher for both the All Blacks and the Maroons than their rivals, but they have maintained solid groups of experienced players that have carried their teams through difficult games.
A core of players such as Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Darren Lockyer, Greg Inglis and Petero Civoniceva have been the defining factor in Queensland’s success for the past seven years.
Equally, players such as Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Conrad Smith and Kevin Mealamu for the All Blacks, have ensured that the team maintains consistency.
Conversely, both the Wallabies in union and the Blues in league have been continuously experimenting with different players, having not stuck with and developed a core group over the past ten years.
This has lead to players constantly having to adapt to new tactics and has created to a lack of consistency across the park. Although the availability of quality players is not as great for the Wallabies and the Blues, this is not to say that the talent is not there. Rather, the selection process itself can be questioned, with a number of dubious decisions made by both teams over the years.
It seems that both the All Blacks and Maroons selectors have faith in their senior players, even if their form has not been ideal, where experience has come to provide the tipping point in big games.
Another issue present is that these teams, particularly the Wallabies, are constantly looking towards ‘the future’. Now although it is vital for teams to give young players a go so that they gain experience for future seasons, the issues of here and now are of the utmost importance and must be addressed before looking forward to future games.
In saying this, both the Blues and Wallabies seem to be closing the gap. Their previously inexperienced young players are growing in experience and confidence, whereas the All Blacks’ and Queensland’s senior player groups are winding down, which could turn the tide in coming years.
That said, the dominance of the two teams over the past decade is undeniable, and is unlikely to be matched in the future.
Despite highlighting the similarities of these two winning streaks, the All Blacks must still be considered a greater team all round, with an overall winning percentage of 75.36 percent. This would have to put the All Blacks as one of the greatest professional sporting teams of all time.
Queensland and New Zealand have dominated their respective sports over the past decade. It is impossible to predict how long their streaks will continue, but whenever they do end, they will be remembered throughout history.