For over a century, New Zealand and Australia have contested one of the fiercest rivalries in all of rugby union, dating back to the pair’s first ever in Sydney, 1903.
With the arrival of the 2013 Rugby Championship coming this weekend, the Southern Hemisphere once again welcomes one of the most highly-anticipated fixtures the sport can offer: the Bledisloe Cup.
Dating back over 80 years, the largest trophy in world rugby has undoubtedly offered up some of the most exhilarating and entertaining tries in history, a trait that isn’t likely to stop anytime soon.
So, with the 110-year anniversary of Australia and New Zealand’s first ever match coming this week, it’s time to look back at the pick of the Bledisloe bunch.
When: July 19, 1992
Where: Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane, Queensland
Featured in one of, if not the most successful Australia team of all time, Paul Carozza crossed over the line in Brisbane to help tie up the 1992 Bledisloe Cup series.
Capping off a superb passing move, it wasn’t a totally happy occasion for the Wallabies winger, who wheeled away from the all-important try with a bloodied face.
Upon replay, it became clear that All Blacks prop, Richard Loe, had stormed in with a cheap elbow on Carozza following the score, breaking the youngster’s cheekbone.
However, the damage was done and following a series of phases building up play, pulling the New Zealand defence this way and that, Carozza turned the Southern Hemisphere’s power balance back in favour of Australia.
Head to the 2:10 mark of the attached video to see not only Carozza’s try, but Loe’s illegal input, too.
When: August 5, 2000
Where: WestPac Trust Stadium, Wellington
In terms of moves coming straight from the training ground, it simply doesn’t get any better than New Zealand’s carefully formulated strategy against Australia in the second meeting between these two sides of that year’s Tri Nations tournament.
A Tana Umaga exchange in the central channel was helped on by a diversion between Jonah Lomu and several forwards.
The resulting expanse of space in the Australian line let Umaga then burst for a fine break before feeding Cullen to cap off one of the most remarkable moves ever seen in the sport.
In the end, Australia would go on to snatch the victory 24-23, but the Wallabies’ victory still can’t take away from what’s a contender for best passing try of all time.
When: August 27, 2011
Where: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Queensland
Looking back on his career and the way he’s gone about his business, the first word that springs to mind when thinking of Radike Samo is “power.”
However, the utility forward (and occasional back) showed his abilities in acceleration as well as sheer pace during the 2011 Tri Nations series.
Picking the ball up just inside his own 10-metre line, the oldest player ever to feature for the Wallabies in a Tri Nations test match picked the ideal moment to score his first test try for his nation.
Samo through a quick dummy to his left, ultimately having no effect on the outcome, as it was what came next that made the try all on its own.
Standing at 6’6”, the No.8 simply shrugged the challenge of Adam Thompson away with an almighty hand-off before searing down on the New Zealand try-line with incredible speed.
The All Blacks’ backline did their best to catch up with the forward-com-back, but Samo’s momentum from eight yards out was enough to carry him over the whitewash, rounding off a ridiculous feat of individual athleticism.
Voted 2011 IRPA Try of the Year, Samo doesn't score often, but this one was particularly special.
When: July 15, 2000
Where: Stadium Australia, Sydney, New South Wales
The 2000 Bledisloe Cup Series is largely regarded as the best of its kind, fortunate enough to feature Australia and New Zealand sides at the peaks of their rugby powers.
In that sense, it’s tries such as this that give the trophy such a fine reputation; fast, free-flowing rugby played at a high-octane pace, and plenty of it at that.
Quick hands throughout the backs gave Lomu the opportunity to put the Wallabies on the back-foot, a chance the All Blacks great took with both hands.
In his prime, Lomu was always a pleasure to watch with the ball in his hands and this near length-of-the-pitch try could have been just as beautiful were it he who rampaged through yet another defence to score. Instead, the wing legend shows his more unselfish qualities.
For a split second, the recovering George Gregan appears to have shifted Lomu into touch, but a superb hooked offload inside put the try on a plate for Pita Alatini.
Something that’s apparent in almost any great New Zealand try down the years is the high level of support the players give, regardless of how talented the ball carrier might be.
On this occasion, it was Alatini whose hard work paid off, although the young centre was but one of numerous teammates in the vicinity to add their input.
Fast forward 27 seconds into the video to watch one of the most memorable passages of All Blacks brilliance.
When: July 4, 1992
Where: Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, New South Wales
A definite contender for the greatest try of all time, Frank Bunce’s try in the second Test of the 1992 Bledisloe Cup series takes everything great about Cullen’s aforementioned score in 2000 but adds superb spontaneity.
Starting from their own try line, the All Blacks relied on nothing but quick feet and even quicker hands to make it from Point A to Point B in less than 20 seconds.
In total, eight players shared the responsibility in what is undoubtedly one of the best worked team tries in history, showcasing all the technical brilliance that New Zealand have earned a reputation for in recent decades.
Considering the build-up, it really didn’t matter who crossed the line on that occasion, but it just so happened to be centre Frank Bunce who got on the end of the chance on that occasion.