With Ireland’s tour of New Zealand just around the corner, I thought I’d take the opportunity to name my All Blacks 23 for the…
In August of 2010, The Raeburn Shield was brought to the attention of Roarers.
This challenge shield is put at stake by the holder in every Test match they play and has been won and lost since the first Test match (Scotland v England) in 1871 at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh – hence the name.
Not heard of it? They don’t mention it in the media do they? That’s probably due to the minor issue of the shield being hypothetical.
The hypothesis being that Test rugby could benefit from a Ranfurly Shield-style challenge trophy that smaller nations can aspire to hold, as the likes of Marlborough and South Canterbury have done with New Zealand’s “log of wood”.
I thought it would be a good idea to update everyone on the recent history of the Shield and see whether it made the rounds of the major or even minor rugby nations.
The All Blacks were holders in August, 2010. They won the shield from Australia in the 33-6 victory at Wellington in 2009. The All Blacks then went on to the second longest series of shield defences in history. Their 15 defences are bettered only by their 1987-1990 All Black predecessors who defended 18 times.
As in 1990, the Wallabies ended the run when James O’Connor converted his own try in the 26-24 victory at Hong Kong. A Welsh challenge was repulsed in Cardiff before relinquishing the shield to England at Twickenham. Chris Ashton’s try was one of the highlights of the 35-18 win.
England saw off a Samoan challenge by 23-13. A week later the Springboks won the shield from England by 21-11 and locked it away for the summer.
With no inbound tours due to the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the Springboks’ first Test of 2011 was played at Sydney. The Wallabies regained the Shield they lost to England, just eight months before, with a 39-20 hammering of an undermanned South Africa.
Once again, Eden Park in Auckland saw the Wallabies unable to retain the Shield. The All Blacks won 30-14 and would have to take the Shield on the road to the Republic. South Africa won back the Shield just one month after losing it to Australia and, with their Tri Nations campaign over, would go into the World Cup as holders of the Raeburn Shield.
The Welsh put up a spirited challenge (losing 16-17), as did Samoa (losing 5-13) but they were repulsed and South Africa made it to the Rugby World Cup Quarterfinal as holders. David Pocock and Bryce Lawrence etched themselves into Shield history and the Wallabies were once again holders, beating South Africa by 11-9.
The All Blacks at Eden Park ended the Wallaby tenure after just seven days. New Zealand won 20-6 but were given a huge scare just seven days later when a committed French challenge fell just short by 8-7.
So the Raeburn Shield, World Cup and Bledisloe Cup is locked away at Hinemoa Street in Wellington and the All Blacks remain the current holders. Samoa (in 1999) and Romania (in 1984) remain the only non-Tier 1 nations to have held the shield.
Next challenge? September 8, 2012. New Zealand versus Argentina at Wellington.