Bledisloe Cup


Bledisloe Cup


Rugby Union's Bledisloe Cup is contested by Australia's Wallabies and New Zealand's All Blacks. It is named for Lord Bledisloe, the Governor-General of New Zealand who donated the trophy in 1931.

Once played irregularly every few years, Bledisloe Cup matches now happen annually, and include Tri Nations fixtures between the two sides. Their World Cup fixtures do not count as Bledisloe Cup matches, which were always played in Australia or New Zealand. In 2008 however there will for the first time be a Bledisloe Cup match outside the two countries, when the teams meet in Hong Kong.

The trophy was designed in New Zealand by Nelson Isaac, and crafted by Walker and Hall in London. It is the largest trophy in world rugby.

History

There is some dispute as to when the first Bledisloe Cup match was first played. The Australian Rugby Union contend that the one-off 1931 match played at Eden Park was first. However, no firm evidence has been produced to support this claim, and minutes from a New Zealand union management meeting several days later record Lord Bledisloe wishing to present a cup for the All Blacks and Wallabies to play for. The New Zealand Rugby Union believe that the first match was when New Zealand toured Australia in 1932.

Between 1931 and 1981 it was contested irregularly in the course of rugby tours between the two countries. New Zealand won it 19 times and Australia four times in this period including in 1949 when Australia won it for the first time on New Zealand soil. The trophy itself was apparently 'lost' during this period and reportedly rediscovered in a Melbourne store room. In the years 1982 to 1995 it was contested annually, sometimes as a series of three matches and other times in a single match. During these years New Zealand won it 11 times and Australia three times.

Since 1996 the cup has been contested as part of the annual Tri Nations tournament. Until 1998 the cup was contested in a three match series: the two Tri Nations matches between these sides and a third match. New Zealand won these series in 1996 and 1997, and Australia won it in 1998.

From 1999 through 2005, the third match was not played; during those years, Australia and New Zealand played each other twice as part of the Tri Nations for the cup. If both teams won one of these games, or if both games were drawn, the cup was retained by its current holder. The non-holder had to win the two games 2-0 or 1-0 (with a draw) to regain the Cup. A criticism of this system was that with the closeness in the level of ability between the two sides, years where each team won one game each were very common (1999, 2000, 2002, 2004) and in these years, many rugby fans felt dissatisfied with one team keeping the cup in a series tied at 1-1. In 2000, the Bledisloe was retained by Australia when John Eales kicked a goal from the sideline in the final moments of the match. Another one of the most dramatic matches was played on 1 September 2001 at Stadium Australia, in what would be Wallaby great John Eales' last ever test. Australians were hoping to send their skipper off in a grand style. A fairy tale ending was looking right in the first half when the Wallabies held a solid 19 to six lead over the All Blacks. However, tries to Doug Howlett and Pita Alatini, along with Andrew Mehrtens kicking, saw the All Blacks back in front 26 to 22. However in the dying moments of the game no.8 Toutai Kefu scored the winning try for Australia.

2006 saw the return of the 3 game contest for Bledisloe as the Tri Nations series was extended so that each team played each other 3 times. 2007 however reverted back to the two-game contest because of the World Cup. In 2008 it was announced that the Bledisloe cup would be contested over an unprecedented four matches, three games are to be played in Australia and New Zealand while a fourth, potentially deciding game, is to be played in Hong Kong in an effort to promote the game in Asia (the first time Australia and New Zealand have played not on home ground outside the World Cup). [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/rugby_union/7274401.stm |title=Hong Kong to host NZ v Australia |publisher=BBC Sport |date=2008-03-03 |accessdate=2008-03-03]

Results

Note that if each team won an even amount of games in that year's series, the trophy remains with the current holders.

Records

Most titles won:
# New Zealand flagicon|New Zealand - 37 (including 1931)
# Australia flagicon|Australia - 12

Longest time held by Australia: 5 years (1998-2002) (5 Titles)

Longest time held by New Zealand: 27 years (1951-1978) (12 Titles)

Notes

External links

* [http://www.rugby.com.au/qantas_wallabies/trophies/bledisloe_cup,158.html Bledisloe Cup] on rugby.com.au


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