Rugby Rewind: The All Blacks, the Wallabies and the Greatest Game Ever Played

Jeff Cheshire@@jeff_cheshireAnalyst IIJanuary 28, 2011

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 16:  All Black Jonah Lomu is all smiles as heads to score the winning try against the Wallabies in the Tri Nations match at Stadium Australia, Sydney, Saturday. New Zealand won 3935.  (Photo by Ross Land/Getty Images)
Ross Land/Getty Images

Over the past 150 years we have been treated to many memorable and some not-so-memorable games of rugby.

When discussing which one was the greatest, only a handful make the cut. Whether it be for a dramatic finish, a try-fest or a display of sheer guts and determination, there have been some games that will forever be remembered by those who saw them.

For me, though, one stands out above all the others, and such was its greatness that I feel compelled to tell the story one more time, so we can all relive the greatest game ever played.

The year was 2000 and the scene was set for a showdown of epic proportions. No fewer than 109,874 people packed the new Stadium Australia to witness a Wallaby team, fresh from their success at the previous year's World Cup, play host to a hungry All Black team, looking to take the first step to get their hands on the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 1997.

The pre-game hype had been enormous and heading into the encounter the Wallabies were generally being seen as the favourites. 

What followed was the most remarkable 80 minutes of rugby you'll ever wish to see.

It took the All Blacks just three minutes to get the scoring underway after Tana Umaga crashed over via an Andrew Mehrtens kick to give the All Blacks a dream start.

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But it didn't stop there as Pita Alatini and Christian Cullen both dotted down and a Mehrtens penalty saw the score go to 24-0 after just eight minutes. It was undoubtedly the best start to a test in the history of the game and came from great execution as well as some of that flair we have all come to associate with the All Blacks.

It seemed the game was over. No one told the Wallabies that, though, as they began one of the greatest fight backs in rugby history, spear-headed by their genius flyhalf, Stephen Larkham.

By halftime, the score was back to 24 all and the momentum seemed to have shifted to a Wallaby side who were starting to play with the confidence they had displayed over the past two years.

The second half was a more tightly fought contest and a late Australian try saw the score go to 35-34 in favour of the men in yellow with just minutes to play.

With possession secured, the All Blacks began setting up to land the final blow in what had been a breath taking game. After establishing field position an opportunity finally arose with Jonah Lomu unmarked on the wing. Taine Randell delivered the final pass and Lomu evaded the defence by literally tip-toeing down the sideline to clinch a 39-35 win for New Zealand.

It was a game that had it all. The pre-game hype, a scintillating display of rugby from both sides, a gutsy come-back and of course a dramatic finish in the form of the one and only Jonah Lomu.

The series would then move to Wellington, New Zealand, where the two sides would meet in another classic showdown, capped off with Australian captain, John Eales, kicking the winning penalty goal in injury time to ensure that the Bledisloe Cup would return to Australia for another year.

But it was the first game that will forever remain in the memories of all rugby followers and will always be remembered by many as the greatest game ever played.