Magical figure looms in All Blacks stats

Getty Images

NZPA     23 Nov 2010     Getty Images

Sure, Dan's about to go past Jonny for test rugby points. But no, it's bigger than that.

A long-awaited statistical hurdle can be cleared when the All Blacks play Wales in Cardiff on Sunday morning (NZT).

Victory will lift New Zealand to 354 wins from 472, a 75 percent test winning record -- a prospect that has statisticians salivating.

Morrinsville-based number cruncher Geoff Miller, co-author of the New Zealand Rugby Almanack, is one who has been counting down the years, months and days to what he describes as a "special" landmark.

The All Blacks haven't sat at the three-quarter level since midway through the 1928 series against South Africa but it has loomed into sight because of sustained success during coach Graham Henry's current tenure -- 77 wins in 90 tests at 86 percent.

Miller doesn't need his notes in front of him when compares the achievement with other successful rugby teams -- the Crusaders operate at about 65 percent in Super rugby -- or with other codes.

"Phar Lap won 71 percent of his races," he told NZPA.

"Manchester United, the ultimate in professional sporting excellence -- in their best-ever year they had about 71 percent wins. The Australian cricket team are at 47 percent wins. Even if they'd won all their drawn matches, they'd be at 74 percent.

"This makes the 75 percent of the All Blacks just stellar."

He suspected the Australian rugby league team "might be up there, but that's scarcely an international sport" while other teams in less populous sports could have hit the magical ratio.

Miller said the All Blacks have always been at the head of the rugby pack in terms of success rate, aside from a five-year period in the 1950s when South Africa held sway.""¨The Springboks are clearly second in terms of all-time success at 63.2 percent, having won 249 of 394 tests.

Miller has been in his element on this tour.

Sunday morning's defeat of Ireland saw All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and fullback Mils Muliaina pass the record 92 caps for New Zealand while Graham Henry notched his 100th win as an international coach.

First five-eighth Daniel Carter needs just three points against Wales to surpass the 1178 test points of England's Jonny Wilkinson.