AUCKLAND, NZ – So with a win over a England at fortress Twickenham, the All Blacks can put their feet up and reflect on another quality season in which they remain top of the rugby world? Not so fast, there’s still a couple of tests to go, starting with a clash with Scotland at Murrayfield. Scotland and the All Blacks have had a long and interesting (if highly one-sided) rivalry which has become even more so in recent years. This is due to the amount of ‘kilted kiwis’ who have cashed in on their ancestral heritage to claim a spot in the Scottish test side, meaning that whenever the two teams meet, there’s a few familiar faces to recognize. Let’s look at some of the other interesting historical notes:
The teams first met on the famous 1905 ‘Originals’ tour, where the All Blacks recorded a tough 12-7 win, however it was the attitude of the Scots off the field that is worth noting. I’m not one to perpetuate national stereotypes, but the Scots refusal to invite the All Blacks to the aftermatch function citing costs involved didn’t exactly help their reputation.
Again Scotland’s attitude towards money reared it’s head in 1924, when the all-conquering All Black ‘Invincibles’ found themselves not welcome in Scotland at all due to concerns by the home union over perceived match payments to the New Zealanders. This robbed the All Blacks of a certain Grand Slam (wins over all four British unions on one tour), something they had to wait until 1978 to achieve.
One of the most infamous moments in rugby history came in 1964 at Murrayfield, when legendary All Black Sir Colin Meads was sensationally sent off for allegedly kicking one of the Scottish players in the head. He claimed he was attempting to kick the ball but referee Kevin Kelleher was having none of it. Meads became only the second All Black to be sent off in a test and Scotland got as close as they’ve ever been to beating NZ, the game ending in a 0-0 draw.
In recent years All Black/Scotland games have become known for enterprising play by both sides. Scotland, to their credit, often play with a highly open style that is pleasing to the eye as they know this is their best chance to foot it with the All Blacks. However, it’s got them no closer to achieving victory, their best ever results were the 0-0 draw mentioned earlier and a 25-25 draw in 1983 (this held the record as the highest scoring draw in tests for 14 years).
Scotland vs. All Blacks at Murrayfield, Edinburgh. #SCOvNZL Kickoff: 17:30 local, 06:30 NZT
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Bench: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Johnnie Beattie, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Sean Lamont.
All Blacks: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Colin Slade, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Dan Carter, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Richie McCaw (c), 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Joe Moody
Bench: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Sonny Bill Williams, 23 Julian Savea
Wow, talk about cleaning house. The All Blacks have made a massive 13 changes to the side that ran out last week, with three of them being players that weren’t even supposed to be on this tour. Blues hooker James Parsons, probably still pinching himself after being called in to replace Nathan Harris, finds himself starting. Lock Dominic Bird gets another starting cap alongside Jeremy Thrush and Bledisloe Cup hero Colin Slade gets a run on the wing. Another interesting change and possible glimpse into the future sees Richie McCaw get his first ever start at blindside flanker, letting Sam Cane retain the 7 jersey he wore against the US. As expected, Dan Carter slots back into first five on the same ground where he gave an absolute masterclass back in 2012. Charles Piutau will look to pick up where he left off when he blazed a path of destruction in Chicago, while Victor Vito will relish the reward for his hard work with a start at number 8.
The Scots have named an unchanged side that beat Los Pumas last weekend. It’s worth noting that the Argentine side was far from the one that competed in The Rugby Championship, but the Scots did an admirable job nonetheless. Of interest to NZ viewers will be the performance of Sean Maitland, once widely tipped to be an All Black. The former Crusaders player has been a permanent fixture in the Scottish team ever since he made the switch a few years back. Experienced hooker Ross Ford should look to target his rookie opposite, while in the second row the two Grays, Richie and Jonny, must try and dominate the All Blacks line out if they have any hope of getting enough ball to threaten.
Prediction: A lot has been said about this Scotland team and it’s potential in this match, but honestly I don’t know why anyone has wasted their breath. The All Blacks are gunning for their 30th victory over the Scots and that’s mainly due to one thing: Scotland just aren’t very good at rugby. I doubt very much this has changed since the last time these two sides have played and there’s really no reason to doubt that this will be another mismatched blowout. Even though the All Blacks have made sweeping changes, they have the luxury of bringing back possibly the best first five to ever play the game and unleash some very hungry young talent who will be looking to impress before next year’s World Cup. All Blacks 45-10.
Man to watch: James Parsons will go down as a rare All Black ‘bolter’ selection. These days an All Black career is pretty well sign-posted, with constant exposure through Super Rugby and age grade rep sides. Parsons has really come from nowhere to get the call-up, so it will be very interesting to see how he handles the pressure of wearing the black jersey.
Another huge weekend of test rugby coming up, of course most eyes will be on Twickenham in what is shaping to be the one the battle for the second-best team in the world. Read Nicholas Hall’s preview here. Also check out James Harrington’s preview of the France/Wallabies game here and Jake Frechette’s USA/Tonga preview here. Wherever you are, enjoy the footy.
That’s it for now. Feel free to comment below, please look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@:RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Jamie Wall, Jaime Loyd, DJ Eberle, Cody Kuxmann, Karen Ritter, Jake Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.