Love 'em or hate 'em, the All Blacks are the ultimate test

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Never mind that the international game was dominated by New Zealand for all but the last two games of the decade from 2010 to the end of 2019, dominating the world rankings throughout that period.


The only All Blacks' win that merited consideration was their triumph at the 2015 Rugby World Cup – the first time a team had completed consecutive World Cup triumphs, and the first time any team had won the trophy three times.


No room in the evaluations was made for the outstanding 57-0 rout of South Africa at Albany in 2017. Nor was there any room for the All Blacks come from behind win over Ireland in Dublin in 2013, nor their win in one of the great Test matches of all time when beating South Africa at Ellis Park in Johannesburg 38-27 also in 2013.


However, in acknowledging the effort of the side winning in 2015, SkySports did ask if there had been a better side to have won a World Cup than Richie McCaw's men of that year. They pointed out that Argentina, France, South Africa and Australia were beaten, all three other semifinalists as it turned out, en route to what was 'a fabulous tournament success at Twickenham'.


But in a back-handed sort of way the choice of England's stunning upset of the All Blacks in the semifinal of the World Cup in Japan earlier this year, and Ireland's two wins over them in 2016 (Chicago) and 2018 (Dublin), and the highlighting of the drawn series with the British & Irish Lions in 2017, showed how much beating the All Blacks still remained a measuring point for most international sides.


Another New Zealander, coach Pat Lam, also featured prominently in the contenders for the greatest moment when coaching his Connacht side to an unexpected success in the Pro14 series when they won 15 of 22 league games to be the first Connacht side to finish higher than seventh, and to go on and beat Glasgow in the semifinals and Leinster 20-10 in the final.


Among other achievements to be considered were: the third of Ireland's grand slams, Wales theft from England of the 2013 Six Nations title, South Africa's World Cup success this year, the Lions first series win in 16 years when they beat Australia 2-1 in 2013 and also Japan's effort in beating South Africa in 2015, and their playoffs-reaching success when hosting the World Cup earlier this year.


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