In the world of Rugby there are top teams, and then there are the All Blacks. Seen as being in a class of their own, the New Zealand side has dominated the sport for a number of years, and no other team seems to come close to toppling them.
Sports betting sites almost always list them as the favourites, and even popular themed online casino slots games like Rugby Star feature the All Blacks as a powerhouse team.
With the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the horizon, the question is, are there any teams that can give the All Blacks a run for their money, or are they going to cruise to their third straight title?
A Team With An Impressive Win Record
With recent performances in the Rugby Championship, the stats favour the Kiwis. In their first game against their Australian rivals, New Zealand thumped the Aussies 38 points to 13, while playing in Australia in front of a fired-up home crowd.
They then repeated the performance with a 40-12 win at Eden Park, where the team displayed a dynamic attacking strategy that the Australians simply could not deal with. Their third game was against Argentina, and fans were expecting something of a fight as the Pumas have undergone massive changes to their side and their tactics. Once a sub-par rugby nation, Argentina have focused on their attacking strategies and beefed up their defence.
Still, the All Blacks managed to run them over and dominate their half for most of the game. While the margin was a bit better for the Argentinians, the final score was 46 to 24.
If we take a look at the all-time win/loss record for the All Blacks, the stats are not really that surprising. The New Zealand side has a 100% win record against most of their opponents, including Italy, Japan, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. Their win rate against Scotland, Argentina and Wales is above 90%. In fact, there are only two sides against which their win rate is below 70%. This includes Australia and South Africa.
What Makes the Side So Good?
So, what makes the All Blacks such a strong side? According to their opponents and Rugby experts, the entire sport setup in New Zealand is geared towards creating a dynamic pyramid, with only the best players at the top. While many nations have a top rugby program, in New Zealand, the raw talent is so great that many talented players end up leaving the shores after failing to prove their worth for national selectors. The level of talent is so high and the system so well organised that only a select few make it to the top levels.
The style of coaching for the New Zealand side is also a major factor. It is different from classic Northern hemisphere rugby that has been in play for decades. Kiwi coaches constantly adapt their strategies, giving players the freedom to run and create spaces while still maintaining structure and defence. Plenty of sides are stuck within the narrow confines of set play tactics that they don’t see how the game can really evolve. It also doesn’t hurt that the All Blacks have players like Beauden Barrett, Kieran Read and Sonny Bill Williams.
Can They Be Beaten?
Still the question remains; does the dominance of the All Blacks have a negative effect on the sport? The simple answer is no.
Dumbing down the sport is simply not an option and it is up to top sides to improve their game and compete on a higher level. The All Blacks have lifted the sport to where it should be in 2018, while the rest of the world is playing catch-up. While they may be the favourites for the 2019 World Cup, they are not a completely unstoppable force.
Their most recent game against South Africa was a wakeup call for the rest of the world. The All Blacks registered their first defeat in a long time, going down to the Springboks 36-34. This proves that one, the side is beatable, and two, that with the right tactics top-nations can topple the giants.