Rugby World Cup Semifinals: All Blacks-Wallabies, Another Battle in This War

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Rugby World Cup Semifinals: All Blacks-Wallabies, Another Battle in This War
Hannah Johnston/Getty Images
A tradition of rivalry

When it comes to rugby there exists a fierce rivalry between Australia and New Zealand that has been stoked over the years. These two nations first played against each other in a battle of nations in 1903. A match the New Zealanders won 22-3 in Sydney.

So in total these countries have contested 142 games of test rugby. 

New Zealand: 96 wins (68 percent)

Australia: 41 wins (29 percent)

Draws: five ties (3 percent)

So when it comes to rugby, New Zealand is actually the Goliath over its larger neighbour.

When it comes to games played in New Zealand, the statistics show even more dominance with the All Blacks having won 76 percent of their home games against the Wallabies.

The game is being played at Auckland's Eden Park. The last time the Australians won there was in 1986. That's 12 attempts offering zero success for the Wallabies. The last time the All Blacks lost there was in 1994 against the French.

Then there's the battle of the coaches. Many New Zealanders fervently believed that Robbie Deans should have been made All Black coach in 2007, when incumbent Graham Henry failed in the quarterfinals (against France) in his first World Cup campaign. Such was the disdain shown at Henry's reappointment that many of Dean's one-eyed supporters vowed to never cheer for the All Blacks again.

When it comes to Trans-Tasman clashes, Henry has shown an ability to out-craft his Australian opponents. His record is an exceptional 18 wins from 22 contests. That's a resounding 82 percent success rate. Not all these games were against Wallaby teams with Deans at the helm.

Deans has had 14 cracks against his former countrymen. You can take that one step further, against his former team, as Deans played for the All Blacks in the eighties. As coach, he's won three games for the Wallabies. Robbie's comfort lies with the fact that he's won two of the last three battles.

However, these are but numbers. Statistics that mean naught in the heat of the battle. Even the pride, the tradition and the legend of the game will play a minor part in the ferocity of what will be a titanic semifinal. The All Blacks have never beaten the Wallabies at a World Cup. Two losses in two semifinals, in 1991 and 2003. Further proof that these games create history rather than fall on history.

So what are the best clashes between these two teams? What stories do they offer?

Here's five games from five different decades. That offer some context into the history of this game.

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