The Black Caps' World Test Championship win this morning was widely recognised as one of the great victories in NZ sport. But where exactly does it rank? Chris Rattue and Cameron McMillan went about the task of placing it amongst the 10 greatest team wins in the last 50 years.
- Only team victories were considered – rowing pairs make a team. An equestrian rider and a horse are not a team (or they would both get medals).
- There must be an international component.
- Taken over a 50-year period - From January 1, 1971 until December 31, 2020.
- It must be a victory. Sorry All Whites 1 Italy 1.
Jonah Lomu. That's it. What more can you say about this test? Sure it was an impressive team performance that booked the All Blacks a spot into a second World Cup final but really it was Lomu's test. It was another breakout performance in a breakout tournament for the once in a century All Black. It produced one of the most iconic moments of the game when he run straight through Mike Catt in the second minute. France Bunce and Glen Osborne combined to set up a Josh Kronfeld try a couple of minutes later and the semifinal looked done after five minutes. But Lomu wasn't. He terrorised the English all day finishing with four tries.
England still scored four of their own, still the most by a losing semifinalist, but they had no answer for Lomu that day. The All Blacks were superb, and number eight Zinzan Brooke even kicked a long-range drop goal. But for one of the great team performances you can't help but focus on the great number 11. - CM. Photo credit. Getty Images.
Montreal will forever hold a special place in Kiwi hearts. Olympic gold medals don't come any more surprising or memorable than this. It was a classic of the amateur era, an everyman team climbing their Everest. Australia were massive favourites for the final on artificial turf, which hockey was using at the Olympics for the first time.
Players like heroic goalkeeper Trevor Manning – who saw out the game with a smashed kneecap – and goalscorer Tony Ineson became household names. This was New Zealand sport's ultimate flash in the pan – the team wasn't even sent to the world championships two years later over money issues.
"People [still] recognise the name and ask 'were you one of the hockey players?'" Ineson said many years later. - CR. Photo credit - Herald archives.
The photo of the victorious eight, their arms raised together, hands clasped, is etched in the minds of New Zealanders of a certain age. The eight won easily over the Americans, with all of their financial advantages, and East Germany, from the imposing Communist state sports system. Guided by legendary coach Rusty Robertson the Kiwis were the favourites, but also popular amateur underdogs. In a historical moment, God Defend New Zealand replaced God Save the Queen at the medal ceremony. Emotions were high.
"We were bawling like babies - awesome," recalled gold medalist Wybo Veldman. - CR. Photo credit - Supplied.
New Zealand needed to win by six goals to pip China for the second Asian spot at the 1982 Fifa World Cup finals in Spain. No one gave them much of a chance, but this long and magical journey into history was not to be denied. By halftime the All Whites led 5–0, the last goal coming via a Brian Turner penalty, the veteran a bag of nerves as the ball kept rolling off the spot.
A delighted but almost disbelieving New Zealand assistant coach Kevin Fallon later joked: "I thought Charlie [Dempsey, NZ football boss] must have bought them [Saudi Arabia] off." A goalless second half forced a playoff against China in Singapore, which they won 2–0. - CR. Photo credit - Herald archives.
Rated as one of the greatest netball tests of all time. In one of the best displays of clutch shooting, Maria Tutaia nailed victory on the two-goal rule after the scores were deadlocked following extra time. The Silver Ferns almost threw it away however before both teams missed winning shots. New Zealand held a 40-33 lead early in the fourth quarter, only to go into panic mode in the closing stages.
Replacement Australian goal shoot Catherine Cox and New Zealand flagbearer Irene van Dyk, who tried a high-risk long range shot, both had chances to seal it in the final minute of ordinary time, and both missed to leave the match alive. Eventually Tutaia secured a second straight Commonwealth Games gold for the Ferns. - CM. Photo credit - Brett Phibbs.
The Rory Fallon header, the Mark Paston save, the nervous final minutes as New Zealand booked just their second trip to the World Cup and first since 1982. Many who were there rate it as their greatest fan experience. Sure it wasn't against an amazing opposition and New Zealand had home advantage but it was the moment for a generation of football fans who didn't experience the All Whites playing at a World Cup the first time around.
It's certainly helped by the fact they did a pretty impressive job in South Africa as well to just fall short of qualifying for the second round. - CM. Photo credit - Photosport.
Eden Park is better known as a rugby venue and struggles to host cricket matches these days. But this day-night semifinal against South Africa produced unforgettable scenes and a stunning atmosphere. Chasing a hefty 298 from 43 overs in a rain affected match, Johannesburg-raised Grant Elliott swatted a winning six off Dale Steyn, over long on, with one delivery remaining. The crowd went berserk.
Elliott helped a disconsolate Steyn off the ground in a fittingly classy finish to a wonderful occasion, as New Zealand contemplated its first World Cup final appearance. South Africa captain AB de Villiers rated it "the most electric crowd" he'd played in front of. Elliott said: "The elation - throwing my arms up in the air - was probably more relief than victory." The seat where the ball landed has even been immortalised with a plaque. - CR. Photo credit - Brett Phibbs.
'And the America's Cup is now New Zealand's Cup'. Peter Montgomery had plenty of time to prepare the famous line. The victory was by almost two minutes but was the 'closest' of the five victories, which shows just how much better the New Zealand entry was. Dennis Conner and his Stars and Stripes had no answer to NZL 32 as the US had to hand over the Auld Mug for just the second time in 144 years.
The entire country was enthralled by the event as Sir Peter Blake, Sir Russell Coutts and their crew were celebrated with parades on their return. Even commemorative stamps were made to mark the occasion. We're used to the narrative of little New Zealand upsetting a major nation but this wasn't beaten the French or the English – it was Americans and rich ones at that. - CM. Photo credit - Getty.
The New Zealand cricketers are the overnight test sensations years in the making.
While Australia, England and India plotted to sew up the world game in the board room, the Kiwis stitched together a tight-knit squad to beat all-comers and claim the new WTC title.
Skill, spirit, grit and sensational planning…this is a remarkable team from a cut-priced cricket outpost.
The Black Caps blended in players from abroad and turned its home grounds into a fortress.
It hasn't been all plain sailing behind the scenes.
After South African Neil Wagner arrived in the country and launched an assault on the local batting, he wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms by his new pace bowling comrades. But he's now great mates with fellow greats Tim Southee and Trent Boult.
The sacking of Ross Taylor as captain, under previous coach Mike Hesson, also created an awkward situation.
But the Kane Williamson-inspired Black Caps always find a way to put the team first.
And this squad has so many fabulous components, from the most widely respected captain in the game to a new world star in all-rounder Kyle Jamieson.
It all came together over a glorious, rain-hit week in Southampton.
The talented Indians thought they could jet in and claim test cricket's new ultimate prize.
Williamson, coach Gary Stead and co. don't leave things to chance. They warmed up against England and pounced on the sub-continent stars' substandard batting.
The reception for Williamson, Southee and co. could have been even greater if the game had been played in our prime time. The masses weren't able to hang on every ball, every shot, every catch.
But is this really cricket's ultimate prize?
New Zealand's rise from the ashes, which began under Brendon McCullum and Mike Hesson, hasn't usurped the actual Ashes, or the brilliant contests between Australia and India.
And I would still rate the All Blacks' 2011 World Cup final victory over France above this cricket triumph.
Rugby might be battling in some areas but it still means more to more people in this country. It's just the way it is.
And don't forget just how desperate the country was to re-claim the Webb Ellis Cup won at the inaugural 1987 tournament, after five successive tournament disappointments.
The rugby drama and desperation was far in excess of what happened on the road to Southampton.
The Black Caps naturally get extra marks because we are a tiny cricket nation facing powerful opposition.
But the All Blacks don't deserve to be marked down because of their hard-won status as, often, the world's best. Their long-held superiority wasn't handed to them.
And while the Rugby World Cup has established its credentials, with nations designing their campaigns around it, cricket's ultimate test tournament still has the feeling of a contrived add-on.
When it comes to our greatest sporting victories, I'd place New Zealand's win in Southampton a close second. - CR.
Excruciatingly magnificent. It finally broke the World Cup drought after so much heartbreak in the subsequent attempts that followed the 1987 triumph. It wasn't pretty but it included a wonderful opening try, the only All Black try, from a lineout move and a fairly simple penalty attempt that launched the cult status of Stephen Donald. The rest was about as memorable as a trip to the dentist – but because of the result it was like you didn't get an exorbitant bill at the end.
"Throughout that last 20 minutes, I definitely had thoughts of what happened in 2007 running through my head. It was just desperation really," said an honest Tony Woodcock who finished with more than half of New Zealand's points. It was probably the same thoughts many New Zealand fans were having. Skipper Richie McCaw, who played the final with a broken foot, also put it succinctly...in a very Kiwi way. "It's hard to describe, I am absolutely shagged". - CM. Photo credit - Brett Phibbs.