Saturday, July 18, 2009

International Rugby: Tri-Nations 2009 Begins


Australia v New Zealand in Auckland (Bledisloe Cup, Tri Nations)

Venue: Eden Park

Firstly a special mention to George Smith, the Australian loose forward. It is indeed a special occasion to be playing your 100th test.

George Smith will play his 100th rugby test match for Australia against New Zealand at Eden Park today. Image thanks to

He joins and elite group of players who have reached that milestone at the international level. He will also be the only one currently playing test rugby.

George Gregan, Australia — 139
Jason Leonard, England — 119 (114 for England, 5 for the British and Irish Lions)
Fabien Pelous, France — 118
Philippe Sella, France — 111
Gareth Thomas, Wales — 103 (100 for Wales, 3 for the British and Irish Lions)
Stephen Larkham, Australia — 102
Percy Montgomery, South Africa — 102
David Campese, Australia — 101
Alessandro Troncon, Italy — 101

Thanks to

Not for some time has the start of the Tri Nations international rugby tournament between South Africa, Australia and New Zealand been so open. Australia is the only one of the three who were undefeated in their pre tournament international rugby tests. The other teams have displayed fluctuation fortunes and form

New Zealand has so far struggled to show the amazing form they displayed during their November 2008 northern tour. Hit by injuries and player drift overseas, the All Blacks have played well below their expected form in the tests against France and Italy. The good news is that key players are back in the team. Captain Richie McCaw, flanker Rodney So'oialo and winger Sitiveni Sivivatu all play their first test matches since that November tour. This will boost the team confidence with McCaws leadership and the other's experience all playing a huge part. But will they be able to defeat the Wallabies?

Australian rugby has been quietly gaining momentium at the top playing level. The team is still relatively inexperienced with some promising youngsters stepping up to international rugby. There is experience in the team as well with Matt Giteau, Nathan Sharp, Sterling Mortlock and Alistair Baxter.

So the scene is set. The Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of rugby competition between New Zealand and Australia since 1932 and held by New Zealand, is also up for grabs. Australia has not won at Eden Park since 1986. And then there's South Africa! More about them next week.

Last Five Encounters
01.11.2008 New Zealand 19-14 in Hong Kong (Bledisloe Cup)
13.09.2008 New Zealand 28-24 in Brisbane (Bledisloe Cup, Tri Nations)
02.08.2008 New Zealand 39-10 in Auckland (Bledisloe Cup, Tri Nations)
26.07.2008 Australia 34-19 in Sydney (Bledisloe Cup, Tri Nations)
21.07.2007 New Zealand 26-12 in Auckland (Bledisloe Cup, Tri Nations)

GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-New Zealand 1st, Australia 2nd
Oceania Table-New Zealand 1st, Australia 2nd

Prediction: New Zealand by 7 points.


New Zealand
15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Rodney So'oialo, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Jason Eaton, 19 Kieran Read, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Luke McAlister, 22 Josevata Rokocoko.
Head Coach: Graham Henry

15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 George Smith, 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 James Horwill, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Dean Mumm, 19 Phil Waugh, 20 David Pocock, 21 Will Genia, 22 James O'Connor.
Head Coach: Robbie Deans

For a complete list of all test matches played between New Zealand and Australia go to

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