Phil Gifford lists seven talking points from the biggest rugby upset of 2020.
1) All hail the Kiddie Koalas
The mathematical Chaos Theory, that order and chaos are not totally opposed to each other, has rarely been as well illustrated in sport as it was in the Wallabies' 24-22 win in Brisbane.
There was certainly chaos. Referee Nic Berry's plaintive squeaks throughout the game for players to calm down were a reflection of the fact he was barely in control for large sections of play. It wasn't just the red and yellow cards, it was the fact forward passes being called was often a lottery, that after a stern warning Ardie Savea was grabbed for a second time a minute later while still in the air at a lineout, and, worst of all, the ducking of what should have been at least a yellow for James Slipper in the 24th minute.
You knows things have gone nuts when Sam Cane, who in 70 previous tests has never lost his composure, was so incensed when Australian prop Slipper smashed his left forearm into his neck, while Cane was defenceless on the ground, that Cane unleashed physically. Berry? He and his assistants dismissed the worst foul play incident in the test as "a bit of push and shove."
But despite officialdom anarchy, the right team still won. Like the Baby Blacks way back in 1986, the Kiddie Koalas tackled ferociously, and, remarkably, held their composure slightly better than a vastly more experienced All Blacks side. It was a really gutsy performance, and hopefully a sign of close, competitive tests next year.
2) The knight is right, red cards in the professional era are a nonsense
Sir John Kirwan said there should be a yellow card, and "you go on report and you suffer later." When you're charging people rock concert prices to watch rugby, you need to have 30 players on the field as much as possible.
The bin for 10 minutes, and then, if found guilty of dangerous play in a hearing, a ferocious, and I mean in the $30,000 area, fine would sting even million-dollar men.
There would not only be a minimum of disruption to the spectacle of the game, but also a powerful incentive to clean up high tackling, an area rugby has to improve for the safety of the players.
3) There were moments when rugby broke out, but not many
In the cold light of day this wasn't a great test. Rugby purists would have watched much of it in horror. The All Blacks made so many panicky errors, the last gasp try by Tupou Vaa'i felt odd, because it was executed in the clinical, potent way we're accustomed to from an All Black side. The Australians butchered opportunities too, just not quite as many as New Zealand did.
4) There was only one card to really disagree about
No question that Scott Barrett sticking out his hand while on the ground to dislodge the ball from Nic White's grasp was foolish.
But a yellow card? There had been no general team warning, and the breakdown where Barrett offended was five metres outside the All Blacks' 22 metre line. It was an obvious penalty, but that's all it should have been.
5) If it wasn't for bad luck he'd have no luck at all
Akira Ioane was having a barn storming game until he was subbed off after 29 minutes because the All Blacks had to replace red carded Ofa Tuungafasi with another prop, Tyrel Lomax.
It was well documented during the week that Ioane's return to the inner circle was based on a vastly improved work-rate, and in Brisbane he was a 113kg, tackling, running, clearing out, Energiser bunny. The happy coda to the story is that you can guarantee he'll get more chances on less surreal days.
6) Okay, Reece Hodge was great at first-five, but I'm still reserving judgement
After boldly picking Hodge's lack of first-five experience as the weak spot in the Wallabies he was calm, accurate, and effective. Good on him. It'd still be interesting to see how he'd play against a less stressed and disjointed All Black side.
7) No, this wasn't the most weird All Black test of all time, but it's in the grand final
No question the most bizarre test was the 1981 Eden Park game with South Africa, with protestors in a plane dropping flour bombs on the park, and riots in the streets outside.
I'd put the bedlam of Brisbane up there as joint runner up with the 1975 Scotland test, when Eden Park was flooded, and the water was so deep in some areas All Black prop Bill Bush would later tell me, "You could have drowned in it, no trouble. So here we were sort of hitting in the scrums, going down, then life-saving one another."