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Eden Park unbeaten streak on the line

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allblacks.com     14 Aug 2019     Getty Images

Over nearly 100 years, Eden Park has been consistently the hardest place in the world for teams to beat the All Blacks. In 86 Test matches at the ground since 1921, the first being a 5-9 loss to South Africa, the All Blacks have lost only 10 times and their winning percentage is 86.47. 

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Since their 20-23 loss to France in 1994, the All Blacks have seen off 41 opponents, with only two draws, against South Africa (18-18) in 1994 to start the run, and the British & Irish Lions (15-15) in 2017.

Putting that into some sort of context, the next highest unbeaten run is 22 by England at Twickenham between 1999-2003.

Australia at Ballymore, Brisbane (1990-2000) and France at the Parc des Princes, Paris (1982-89) had 17 without defeat. Next highest was 16 by the All Blacks at Westpac Stadium in Wellington (2004-2017) and 14 by the All Blacks at Carisbrook in Dunedin (1977-1990).

While Australia have had special difficulty getting over the line at Eden Park, their last win being the Bledisloe Cup-winning 22-9 victory in 1986 their connection hasn't been all bad. They can claim consecutive victories at the ground in 1949 (16-9) and 1955 (8-3) while they achieved a 30-16 win in 1978 on the back of No.8 Greg Cornelson's four tries.

It hasn't all been glory at the ground. In 1937 the 6-17 loss to a South African side, who outscored the All Blacks five tries to nil, is still regarded as the worst Test loss in New Zealand's history.

Not far behind it was the 1973 loss to England (10-16), who lost their three provincial games before the Test, in a four-game visit arranged in the wake of that year's cancelled Springbok tour.

France also produced an outstanding display of rugby when winning 24–19 in 1979. French players still marvel at the way their rugby was enthusiastically received by Eden Park's rugby faithful. Fullback Serge Blanco subsequently named his clothing chain after the ground.



It should be noted that the only other venues of the leading rugby nations to register higher than an 80 percent winning record, having hosted more than 10 Tests since 1900, are:

FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, (13 Tests) 91.66
EPRFU Stadium, Port Elizabeth (16 Tests) 90.62
Docklands Stadium, Melbourne (14 Tests) 85.71
Carisbrook, Dunedin, (38 Tests) 85.52
Stade Velodrome, Marseille (12 Tests) 83.33
Westpac Stadium, Wellington, (25 Tests) 82
Lancaster Park, Christchurch (48 Tests) 81.25.

New Zealand has five Test grounds with fewer than 10 All Blacks Tests running at a 100 percent success rate: North Harbour Stadium, Albany (7 Tests), Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin (6 Tests), Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch (4 Tests), Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth (4 Tests), McLean Park, Napier (2 Tests), Trafalgar Park, Nelson (1 Test).

Since 1994 the onset of professional rugby, and the revamping of Eden Park for the staging of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, have made the ground even more of a fortress. Some memorable games have been played.

Highest on the list would be the 2011 World Cup final against France, a team who had been beaten by the All Blacks, and Tonga, in pool play but who had been New Zealand's nemesis twice before at World Cups in 1999 and 2007. They produced their best game of the Cup to hold New Zealand to an 8-7 margin.

The 1997 55-35 win over South Africa was an early example of the way the All Blacks embraced professionalism as they unleashed their skills in a seven tries to five contest.

The post-2003 World Cup Test against England was another notable game with Cup champions England losing 12-36, and also having lock Simon Shaw sent off. New Zealand had earlier won the first Test 36-3.

And after the 2011 World Cup, the next Test on the ground was a 42-10 win over Ireland in which wing Julian Savea marked his Test debut with a hat-trick of tries and in which lock Brodie Retallick and halfback Aaron Smith also made their debuts.