Great rivalry lives on after 110 years

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Lynn McConnell     17 Dec 2015     Getty Images

That 3-0 loss on December 16 to Wales is one of the great days of New Zealand rugby history and it represents one of the cornerstones of the All Blacks' game.

It was the first time the All Blacks had lost a Test.

The game was the first appearance by captain Dave Gallaher's side in Wales, and it inspired the Welsh crowd to counteract the effect of the All Blacks' haka by singing their national anthem.

That idea had been planted in Welsh minds, according to an article on, the Welsh Rugby Union website, by former Test player and international referee Tom Williams. He wrote to the Western Mail asking fans to join in the singing.

Once they saw the Welsh team in their pre-game huddle after the haka where Teddy Morgan started the singing in the group, it didn't take the crowd long to catch on, and they joined in thus beginning an institution of the Welsh game, singing by the home crowd.

There had been a dispute over the referee for the game with the All Blacks complaining of the choice offered them. The Welsh then vetoed those suggested by All Blacks manager George Dixon. John Dallas, a Scotsman and former Test player, was appointed, although in only his second season of refereeing. He was 27 years of age, younger than both captains.

Two training sessions were held by Wales in the weeks ahead of the Test and plans had been hatched after selectors had watched All Blacks games in Bristol and Gloucester.

The Welsh contested New Zealand's 2-3-2 scrum formation by battling for the loose head at every scrum. Wing forward and captain Gallaher was penalised so many times when attempting to feed scrums that he told his hooker to stop striking for the ball.

That meant a New Zealand side without key players George Smith, Billy Stead and Bill Cunningham had to scrap for what ball they could get in the loose.

Wales scored their try from a rehearsed move that had been dreamed up by Dicky Owen. Welsh captain Gwyn Nicholls described it in his book, 'The Modern Rugby Game': "Owen got the ball on the twenty-five line, and set off round the scrum; the New Zealanders came round to block the way, so Owen sent away a long pass to the left, which Cliff Pritchard, our extra back, secured, and drawing the defence, sent to Gabe, who set off with Morgan in close attendance ready to take the final transfer and go in, wide out, but sufficient for our needs."

Into the final 10 minutes New Zealand fought hard to retain their winning record and eventually Billy Wallace created a chance for Bob Deans to run at the line. He touched down only to be pulled back and have the try ruled out by the late arriving referee.

That action has become the basis of the rivalry between the two rugby nations on the grounds of 'did he score or didn't he?' Deans on his deathbed maintained he did, and there have been reports from several Welsh players, including Rhys Gabe, who tackled Deans, that the try should have been awarded.

If it was an action that provided momentary satisfaction to the Welsh for finally lowering the All Blacks' colours, it had the longer term effect of inspiring the New Zealanders in their future quests to beat Wales.

Just how effective that has been can be seen from the record which stands at 30 Tests played for 27 New Zealand wins.