Our thanks to Andrew Ferguson for his 2014 piece recounting the story of Edward Larkin, who among ot...
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Throughout the history of Rugby League there have been many memorable battles between the different test playing nations. Teams such as Great Britain, New Zealand, and Australia have been the main contenders throughout the last 95 or so years. However, with the upcoming test series between Australia and New Zealand on the horizon it is timely to reflect on the history and tradition between these most fierce rivals.
There are many interesting facts and figures between these two great Rugby League teams which can be used to backup any argument that could be made. However, the most important fact in any history of two Rugby League teams is their respective record against each other. In the case of Australia versus New Zealand this record stands at having played 85 times over the last 95 years with Australia on top with 60 wins to New Zealands 24 (there is also 1 draw).
Through looking at this record alone, it would seem that Australia would be a clearly superior team, however this is not necessarily the case. Throughout all of the clashes between Australia and New Zealand, with some exceptions of course, there has always been a commitment to produce the best. No matter how much the critics say that Australia will by, the Kiwis always turn up and always give 110%.
By delving through the history books, one is quick to notice that the history between these two teams seems to split into two era's. The first being that period of time where the two teams were close in terms of results, namely the years between 1908 and c1956. During this time period Australia barely won a test series against New Zealand with most of the series' ending with either a 2-1 win for the Kiwis or a 1 all drawn series.
However, after 1956 things started to become a little messier for New Zealand. This can be highlighted simply by the fact that the last test series which New Zealand won against Australia was all the way back in 1953 - just on 50 years ago. Of course there have been some one off test wins for the Kiwis, however looking at the bigger picture it is easy to see with whom the dominance lies.
The New Zealand team does however hold some interesting records. During a test match in the year of 1952 held in Brisbane, the New Zealand Rugby League team defeated the Australian team by 49 points to 25 and in doing inflicted the biggest loss in the history of the Australian team. However, Australia did inflict some kind of revenge by winning a test match in April of the year 2000 by a massive 52 points to nil in one of the most lop-sided contests in recent years.
Clashes between Australia and New Zealand have always been close fought and hard games. Even when the gulf in talent seems to be quite large, the occasion of playing Australia always seems to bring out the best in the Kiwis. Similarly, as the difference in skill level between the two teams becomes closer, as is currently happening, the games are sure become even tougher and more of a spectacle.
The players that are likely to be picked for the New Zealand team, have on the whole been playing in the NRL competition for many years now. The mixture between the experienced stars and the up and comers will provide a great challenge for the Australian team and a great game for the spectators.
Speaking of the two teams, while there are no certainties for any test spot, the Australian team, for the main part, picks itself. Players of the quality of Lockyer, Johns, Tallis, et al, will be there and provide a major challenge for the Kiwis. However, the New Zealand team is an interesting proposition. Daniel Anderson has been quoted as saying that the New Zealand team will not be hugely different to the last team that was picked, however it will be interesting to see whether he will choose the recently returned from injury Ali Lauiti'iti over the very in form pairing from Penrith of Tony Puletua and Joe Galuvao.
Whichever team Daniel Anderson comes up with, the next test match on July 25th will be a game to remember. Australia versus New Zealand test matches are always full of passion and pride and most importantly history.
My tip: Australia by 10.
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