James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Mighty win secures mighty Cup

World media praise all Blacks for devastating performance against Wallabies to retain the 42kg 'Bled'

Its diary for public appearances is pretty much full and it has designated minders - but the Bledisloe Cup doesn't fly business class because it's too big.

As Australian sports commentators labelled the All Blacks' 51-20 defeat of the Wallabies "remarkable", "supreme", "devastating" and "brutal", the cup's team of designated minders were preparing to parade it in front of excited fans.

The cup has called New Zealand home since 2003 and will stay here for yet another year after Saturday night's hammering of Australia at Eden Park.

This week it goes to Napier with the Rugby Championship trophy where both will be used to promote the All Blacks' next game, against Argentina at McLean Park on September 6, a match that's yet to sell out.

A spokeswoman for the NZRU said the cup was an important part of All Blacks ritual, used for motivation and team bonding.

It's often in the team room in the week of a test match where "it serves as a great reminder of how special it really is", she said.

"In the All Blacks' possession, the 'Bled' usually goes back to the team hotel on the team bus, as it did on Saturday night for post-match celebrations with family and friends.

"Any of the players can ask for this trophy, as some do, and they use it the way it's supposed to be - they often share it with their families, and local clubs. It's especially important for the newer players."

When it's not on the road, the cup lives in the NZRU's head office in Wellington, in a cabinet bursting with other trophies, including a replica of the William Webb Ellis Trophy for the winners of the World Cup.

It has its own diary and there are protocols about how it can be used, who can use it and who can be a designated minder. The biggest of all the All Blacks' trophies, the cup and its own travel case weigh 42kg but it doesn't get to fly in the cabin because it's too big to carry on board as normal hand luggage.


Julian Savea and Ma'a Nonu raise the Bledisloe Cup after the All Blacks' emphatic victory.

Holding the cup for the 12th year was just reward for a dominating All Blacks performance at Eden Park. Australian commentators were full of praise for the display yesterday.

Former Glamorgan and England batsman Steve James, who writes for the Sunday Telegraph, said: "Reports of New Zealand's demise were clearly exaggerated. In Auckland they produced one of the supreme attacking performances to answer the whirlwind of questions that were swirling around them after a lacklustre 12-12 draw in Sydney last weekend.

"The rest of the world will have watched with open mouths. The world champions, and No 1-ranked side, are not just in fine fettle. They are in devastating fettle. When in this form, no side can touch them.

"England discovered that in the third test in Hamilton recently when losing 36-13 and Australia discovered it to an even greater degree here.

"The severity of punishment they mete out when opponents make mistakes - as all sides do - is quite remarkable."

Georgina Robinson, rugby writer for the Sydney Morning Herald, said the All Blacks "made a mockery of Australian confidence with a six-tries-to-two massacre".

Andy Withers, for ESPN's rugby website, Scrum.com, said the team delivered "brutal physicality at the breakdown and a clinical catch-and-pass game plan that featured straight and hard running and quick ball movement to stretch the Wallabies".

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was pleased with the showing but said the team could get better still.

"The big thing we want to do is try to get better every time we play."

Strange cup facts
Four things you didn't know about the Bledisloe Cup:
1. The cup and its own special carry case weigh 42kg.
2. The New Zealand and Australia rugby unions disagree about when the first Bledisloe match was held. The ARU thinks it was in 1931 and the NZRU reckons it was a year later.
3.The NZRU has designated minders for the cup and keeps a diary for its public appearances
4. The cup was donated by former New Zealand Governor-General Lord Bledisloe who, during his 1930-35 tenure, insisted on a pay cut.

- NZ Herald

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