Japan vs. New Zealand: Re-Living All Blacks' Record Win in 1995
New Zealand face Japan for only the third time at full Test level on Saturday.
The last time the pair met was during the pool stages of the 2011 World Cup, with the All Blacks running out 83-7 winners on their way to reclaiming the Webb Ellis Cup.
But it was at the 1995 World Cup when they first came together in a clash that saw the record books ripped up.
The tournament became famous for South Africa’s victory over Jonah Lomu and Co. in a tense final, but the pool stage meeting between the men in black and the Brave Blossoms could not have been more different.
The All Blacks ran in 21 tries in a record 145-17 win.
Let’s have a look at the men who made a mark that day.
1. Marc Ellis
Ellis played outside centre that day and scored a world-record six tries that still stands today.
The curly-haired Wellington-born Ellis ran riot against a side well out of their depth, but his exploits since then have catapulted him to fame and fortune away from the field.
Ellis left the game after the tournament to take up rugby league before a career in business and broadcasting came calling.
Alongside successful TV and radio shows, his business acumen proved to be as sharp as his nose for the try line. In 2011, the juice company he co-founded was sold to Japanese drinks giant Asahi in a deal that reportedly trousered the former All Black a reported NZ$18 million.
Nice work if you can get it.
It wasn’t all a bed of roses for Ellis following his record-breaking exploits in Bloemfontein, though. In 2005 he was convicted and fined for possessing ecstasy.
2. Simon Culhane
Simon Culhane was the other record-breaker on that famous day.
First-choice No. 10 Andrew Mehrtens was given a rest, which opened the door for Culhane to make his debut and fill his boots against the group’s whipping boys.
He did so handsomely, knocking over 20 of his 21 conversion attempts and scoring a try for a 45-point haul that has never been bettered.
Culhane, who moved into coaching with Southland, recalled his huge points tally in an interview with stuff.co.nz and insisted the fact that the majority of players were reserves that day meant they were going to take their chance:
We were basically the 'B' team and it was unheard of to rotate in those days. We were pretty determined we weren't going to let the All Black jersey down.
3. Masahiro Kunda
Hooker Kunda was captain of the Japan side that day and took the decision to tell his men to go down at least trying to score a try.
In 2011, before the two sides met for the second time, Kunda recalled the 1995 record-breaking defeat in an interview with asahi.com in which he revealed his strategy: "No matter how many points we concede, let's go and get a try,” he told his men.
They scored twice, but Kunda admitted: "If I hadn't told my teammates to attack, we could have kept our loss to under 100 points."
It’s thought this drubbing discouraged IRB officials from increasing the number of Asian sides in future World Cups from one to two, but despite the setback, Japan have improved markedly.
In the 2007 tournament, they gave Fiji a huge scare before going down 31-35 in Toulouse and battled to a draw with Canada.
They repeated that draw four years later and this year, under former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, they beat Wales 23-8 in Tokyo. In 2019, they will be tournament hosts.
4. Norm Hewitt
Stormin’ Norm was making only his second appearance as an All Black in this clash.
The hooker was forever in the shadow of the great Sean Fitzpatrick and would only go on to win nine caps in total.
While Hewitt would have had an easy day at the office against Japan, he knew things would be tougher against the likes of England, and it was his face off with Richard Cockerill during the Haka when the sides met at Old Trafford in 1997 that fans of the Red Rose Brigade remember him for.
Hewitt appeared in 2005 on New Zealand’s Dancing with the Stars and won the competition with the nation firmly behind him.