The Parliamentary Rugby Team are heading to the finals of the Parliamentary Rugby World Cup in Japan after triumphing in a grudge match that has echoes of the All Blacks' quarter-finals loss to France at the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

That loss is the stuff of nightmares to rugby fans still and the parliamentarians had their equivalent game in their final 2015 Parliamentary Rugby World Cup match against France.

New Zealand's team – known by some of their rivals as the Parliamentary All Blacks - won that 2015 game by 46 points. But that game also lost them the tournament.

Due to the points scoring system that year, New Zealand had to beat France by 51 points to take home the Cup.


They were 46 points ahead when the referee blew the full-time whistle some minutes early – causing some controversy.

NZ's Parliamentary Rugby Team in Japan include MPs Hamish Walker (front, third from left), Michael Woodhouse, Damien O'Connor and Mark Mitchell. Photo / Supplied
NZ's Parliamentary Rugby Team in Japan include MPs Hamish Walker (front, third from left), Michael Woodhouse, Damien O'Connor and Mark Mitchell. Photo / Supplied

So it was that Australia ended up with the Cup, edging New Zealand out on points.

Just as the All Blacks avenged their 2007 loss to France the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the Parliamentary Rugby Team have now avenged their 2015 loss.

On Tuesday they beat the French 18-7 in the semifinals, played at the bottom of Mt Fuji.

They will line up for the final on Thursday against Australia in Tokyo – and another chance to avenge that 2015 result.

New Zealand's co-captain Mark Mitchell said the game against France had been a bit rough and resulted in some injuries.

"We got a lot of injuries. It's a bit of a tournament of attrition. It was a really tough, physical game which you always expect with the French. They had a much bigger squad than ours, but the guys were really disciplined and the scoreboard told the story."

Those injured included star player Billy Weepu (brother of former All Black Piri Weepu) who had a crook knee, and Mitchell with a split lip and a sore back after a knee landed on it. He said the team physio was patching them up in time for the final.


The team is co-captained by Mitchell and Labour MP Damien O'Connor. Other MPs at the tournament this year are National Party MPs Hamish Walker and Michael Woodhouse.

The team are lower on MPs than usual - stalwarts Stuart Nash, Peeni Henare and Kelvin Davis could not go because of ministerial duties while National's Alfred Ngaro and Paul Goldsmith also did not make it.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has gone in the past in a managerial role but his hospital stay – and the need to fill in for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern while she is overseas – ruled it out.

The New Zealand team include a raft of staff based in Parliament – from security guards and police to Crown car drivers.

The parliamentary tournament was set up by the late Nelson Mandela in 1995 when he was President of South Africa, which was hosting the Rugby World Cup.

New Zealand have won the Parliamentary World Cup four times – including in 1995 when they beat South Africa.

The team's players pay the costs out of their own pockets, with some help from sponsors including fare cuts from Air New Zealand.

Mitchell said the team were also very active between world cups – they recently raised $15,000 for the Blair Vining Sports Foundation after a game in Queenstown organised by Vining, who has terminal cancer.