Rugby: All Blacks rated biggest chokers of all time

All Black Craig Dowd reacts after losing to France in the 1999 World Cup semifinal. Photo / Getty Images
All Black Craig Dowd reacts after losing to France in the 1999 World Cup semifinal. Photo / Getty Images

The All Blacks have topped a list of the greatest chokers in sport, beating the likes of golfer Greg Norman and the South African cricket team.

The 1999 All Blacks, a team that were shocked by France in the Rugby World Cup semifinals, finished number one in the Times Online's 40 greatest chokers in sport.

The All Blacks led 24-10 at one stage before France out-scored New Zealand 33-7 to stun the tournament favourites 43-31.

The 2007 All Blacks also featured on the list. The side which lost to France in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals finished 20th on the list.

The 1999 All Blacks beat out the 1999 South African cricket team in second place, a team which missed out on the World Cup final after botching their semifinal tie with Australia, followed by Greg Norman who infamously threw away a six stroke lead going into the final round of the 1996 US Masters.

Sprinter Asafa Powell and 1989 US Masters choker Scott Hoch rounded out the top five.

Times Online writer Patrick Kidd, who compiled the list, said the All Blacks could have featured on the list more than twice.

"It may be cruel to include the All Blacks twice in this list, but has self-belief and potential ever exploded so often, so predictably?," he wrote.

"As well as 1999 and 2007, we could include the World Cups in 1995 World Cup (damn that food poisoning), 1991 (two moments of brilliance by David Campese upset the tournament's best side in the semi-finals) or 2003 (averaged 62 points per game until the semi-final then blew it against Australia). How will they self-destruct on home soil in 2011?"

Kidd cited cockiness as the reason the 2007 All Blacks threw away their halftime lead to France to crash out of yet another World Cup.

"It's all Wayne Barnes's fault, embittered All Blacks fans protest. If the English referee hadn't sin-binned Luke McAlister for blocking Yannick Jauzion and if he had annulled one of France's tries for a possible (and fairly marginal) forward pass, New Zealand would have won this World Cup quarter-final.

"In fact, New Zealand paid the price for arrogance in the second half. They led 13-3 at the break and assumed the game was won. Discipline went, cockiness entered and it was only halfway through the second period that New Zealand realised the game might be lost. They led 18-13 with 12 minutes to go, but Jauzion snatched victory for France and broke New Zealand hearts yet again."

Other teams that featured on the list included the 2004 New York Yankees (lost a 3-0 series lead to old rivals the Boston Red Sox), the 2006 England cricket team (lost the second test to Australia from an unbeatable position) and England's soccer team at this year FIFA World Cup (lost 4-1 to Germany).

British individuals Andy Murray, Lewis Hamilton, Tim Henman and Paula Radcliffe also made the list.

The 40 greatest chokers in sport
40: Andy Murray, 2010
39: Barcelona, 1986
38: Lewis Hamilton, 2007
37: England rugby union team, 1991
36: Bernhard Langer, 1991
35: Alex Bogdanovic, take your pick
34: Frank Bruno, 1996
33: England cricket team, 1987
32: David Bedford, 1971
31: Tony Romo, 2007
30: New York Yankees, 2004
29: Europe Ryder Cup team, 1999
28: Roberto Duran, 1980
27: England cricket team, 2006
26: Tim Henman, 2001
25: Paula Radcliffe, 2000
24: Gareth Southgate, 1996
23: Devon Loch, 1956
22: England football team, 1970
21: Jana Novotna, 1993
20: New Zealand rugby team, 2007
19: England football team, 2010
18: Gavin Hastings, 1991
17: Newcastle United, 1995-96
16: Scott Norwood, 1991
15: Colin Montgomerie, 2006
14: Jimmy White, 1992
13: Chris Waddle, 1990
12: Dustin Johnson, 2010
11: Don Fox, 1968
10: Houston Oilers, 1993
9: Doug Sanders, 1970
8: Guillermo Coria, 2004
7: Somerset cricket team, 2010
6: Jean van der Velde, 1999
5: Scott Hoch, 1989
4: Asafa Powell, 2007
3: Greg Norman, 1996
2: South Africa cricket team, 1999
1: New Zealand rugby team, 1999

- Herald online

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