The All Blacks: The World's Most Successful Rugby Team

The All Blacks are the New Zealand rugby team, and they're well known for their Haka before matches.
The All Blacks: The World's Most Successful Rugby Team

Last update: 30 June, 2020

The All Blacks are famous for their, unsurprisingly, all-black kit but also for the Haka that they perform before every game. But above all, they’re famous for the number of titles they’ve won and the multiple tries that they score in each game. Today, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the New Zealand rugby team.

The early years

The New Zealand rugby team played their first match in 1884. Back then, their kit was very different from today. They wore a dark blue shirt with an embroidered gold fern on the upper left.

Although it might seem fairly recent, the haka actually dates bath to when the team played teams from Australia and United Kingdom in 1888. Later, when touring the islands around Oceana, they used the Ake Ake Kia Haka.

In 1893, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) decided that the team would wear a black jersey with the silver fern and white shorts. By 1901, the shirt no longer had a collar. From that moment, they were known as the ‘All Blacks’, and the name has stayed the same ever since.

In 1903, they would play an important match against Australia, in Sydney. A year later, they played the British Isles team at home in the city of Wellington.

In 1905, they made a tour of Europe and North America, where they lost for the first time, against Wales in Cardiff. That same year, they started using the Ka Mate, a haka composed by the Maori chief Ngati Toa Te Rauparaha in the 19th century.

The All Blacks before a match.

Tournaments the All Blacks played in

The All Blacks have jointly won the most number of Rugby World Cups, sharing this record with South Africa. They lifted the trophy in 1987 (in New Zealand), 2011 (also in New Zealand), and 2015 (in England).

Undoubtedly, their greatest success is in the current Rugby Championship (formerly the Tri-Nations), which they have won 16 out of 24 tournaments since 1996. The times that they failed to win were in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2009, 2011, 2015, and 2019.

The All Blacks have won almost 80 percent of their games and have scored more points than any other team in the history of the sport. Since their official debut in 1993, only six teams have been able to defeat them: Australia, England, France, Ireland, Wales, and South Africa.

The team they have played against the most is Australia, playing them a total of 166 times. The All Blacks have won 115 of these, lost 44, and tied the remaining 7. They have also played 99 games against South Africa, winning 59, losing 36, and tying 4.

Their longest winning streak is 17 games and has happened twice in their history, between 1965 and 1970, and between 2013 and 2014. Counting tied games, their longest undefeated run is 23 games, with 22 wins and a tied game between 1987 and 1990.

In their history, they have scored more than 16,000 points and conceded fewer than 8,000. Their biggest victory was in 1995 when they beat Japan 145-17. Their biggest defeat was against Australia in 2019 when they lost 47-26.

The All Blacks performing the Haka.

All Blacks players who made history

In the International Rugby Hall of Fame, there are 17 players and one coach, Brian Lochore. Each of them has stood out in their own way.

For example, Dave Gallaher played in the team’s first official game, in 1903, and was a captain in 1905. Another example is George Nepia, who played 30 games on a 1924 tour at just 19 years old.

Sir Fred Allen was captain of the team for 21 games in the 1940s and then coached the team in the 1960s. Don Clarke scored six penalties in a single game, and Sir Wilson Whineray was a captain in 30 games. Sir John Kirwan played 63 test matches in a decade and Jonah Lomu is the youngest player to play for the All Blacks.

Undoubtedly, this team has an incredible history and all indicators point to this trend continuing for a long time. Do you think another team could take their crown from them at some point?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.