The definition of a coincidence:

"A remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent casual connection. Something that's not planned or arranged but seems like it is."

Bearing that in mind, let us look at where the All Blacks currently sit a year out from the Rugby World Cup, compared to how they were travelling this time in 2014.

Touring the Northern Hemisphere, and following a narrow win over England, test centurion captain Richie McCaw spoke of the team being "sluggish to start with, and needing to hold onto the ball longer before taking our opportunities."


Does this sound at all similar to comments made last weekend from centurion captain Kieran Read?

The parallels are even more uncanny when you consider the post-match reports that explained how the All Blacks "were playing two receivers with Beauden Barrett moving to fullback to accommodate Colin Slade as a second playmaker in case either was caught up in contact".

So maybe this idea of Richie Mo'unga and Damian McKenzie being used in the same role isn't so new after all?

And like the stop-start nature of most matches played this year, the All Blacks had a reasonably mixed 2014, playing well at times without any totally convincing 80 minute efforts.

Ngani Laumape of the All Blacks in training in Dublin. Photo / Getty
Ngani Laumape of the All Blacks in training in Dublin. Photo / Getty

Quoting the official team website, the All Blacks were convincing for just 20 minutes of the second June test against England, the first half of the third test, most of the matches against Australia at Eden Park and South Africa in Wellington, the middle stages of England at Twickenham and the last 20 minutes vs Wales.

Compare that to 2018, where they performed well for most of the third test vs France, turned it on when they needed to against Argentina and Australia, the last 20 away in South Africa, and the middle stages of the England clash at Twickenham.

Sound familiar?

The similarities are even more coincidental when you consider the All Blacks split their two matches against South Africa that year, with a narrow win balancing a frustrating two point loss. Pretoria and Wellington this year are a virtual mirror image of Wellington and Johannesburg from then.


And finally, to quote again from the 2014 All Blacks archives, "It is apparent that Ireland will be a genuine contender at next year's Rugby World Cup - and possibly our most major rival."

Statistically, mathematically, historically it's all just a coincidence.

Utterly unique and nothing but a quadrennial one-of-a-kind come from nowhere bullseye in the dark with a needle from a haystack.

Where the All Blacks are sitting right now in 2018 is eerily interchangeable with 2014.

Are you superstitious?

Because if not, it's nothing but a bunch of coincidental statistics.