Sport Union Sorry, Australia. But you’ve made the Bledisloe Cup boring

Sorry, Australia. But you’ve made the Bledisloe Cup boring

The Wallabies have a sorry recent history against the All Blacks. Photo: Getty
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Among all the barometers and measures of just how far Australian rugby has tumbled, this is a good one: not a single current All Blacks player knows what it is like to lose the Bledisloe Cup.

Kiwis, you’d think, would be delighting in that statistic, as there is little New Zealand loves more than humiliating Australia on the rugby field.

Or, indeed, anywhere.

But the truth of it is that what was once a great and noble battle just isn’t fun any more. There is no battle.

Put simply, this thing is getting boring. In the same way pulling the wings off a fly gets boring.

And this is coming from the keyboard of a Kiwi.

We love little more than humbling our big cousin, the arrogant neighbour who dismisses us as some provincial backwater.

As the motto of the Kiwi sports fan goes: “I support two teams – New Zealand and any team playing Australia.”

But the final whistle of a Wallabies match these days feels like a re-run of the aftermath of Muhammad Ali’s 1965 knockout of Sonny Liston, where the champ stood over his prone opponent and roared: “Get up and fight sucker!”

The statistics make for bleak reading.

An all too familiar sight for Wallabies fans. Photo: Getty

Over the past 10 years, the two teams have played each other 30 times – the Wallabies have won just four.

In their past 10 encounters, the All Blacks have scored 335 points on the Wallabies – almost double Australia’s 177.

That period includes a World Cup final in which the Wallabies managed to be competitive for about 10 minutes – albeit while All Blacks fullback Ben Smith was in the sin-bin.

The Bledisloe Cup is a two-team competition that proud sporting nation Australia – with more than five times the population of New Zealand – has not won since 2002. It is simply not good enough.

Add to that the fact that Australian Super Rugby sides have won just three matches against New Zealand sides in the past two years, and it’s little wonder Wallabies fans are more focused on their share portfolios and polo ponies than rugby.

What’s needed is that Wallabies side of old, the team of the late 1990s and early 2000s, for example, that would throw everything at the All Blacks, would get inside their heads and, through pure fight, would often pinch victory at the death.

Jonah Lomu slips away from George Gregan during that famous match in Sydney in 2000. Photo: Getty

Think back to that famous 2000 clash in Sydney, often dubbed the “greatest game of rugby ever”.

That night, 109,874 fans watched the All Blacks take a 24-0 lead after 11 minutes, saw the Wallabies haul it back to 24-24 by half-time, only to watch the All Blacks prevail 39-35 with a Jonah Lomu try in the dying seconds.

An 80-minute arm wrestle of 10 tries, of see-sawing fortunes, of the magic that rugby can produce.

But one of my overriding memories of that game was the aftermath.

Fans of both colours left the ground happy and exhilarated.

I doubt it would have been any different had the All Blacks lost – because we had witnessed a contest, pure and authentic.

That’s what we want. That’s what we need. Otherwise the institution of the Bledisloe is in peril.

How can we talk about a classic rivalry or an epic battle if All Black domination is the new normal?

How can the marketers and TV networks hype matches that offer little sense of unpredictability, or fear, or any prospect of a contest?

How will we ever fill a stadium with 109,000 fans?

So, come on Australia – get up and fight sucker!

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