NZ Herald

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Controversial UK rugby critic Stephen Jones has rated the 1995 All Blacks as the best team of all-time.

Jones, who often makes headlines with his calculated barbs at New Zealand Rugby, also listed Richie McCaw’s 2015 Rugby World Cup winning All Blacks side as the third best team in rugby’s history.

Jones, writing in The Times, listed the ten best international teams of all-time in the wake of England coach Eddie Jones suggesting he will turn England into “the greatest team that rugby has seen.”

Jones said they have “some way to go” crack the top 10.

Jones listed at number 1 “the New Zealand team that should have won Rugby World Cup in 1995 but went on the year after to beat the Springboks 3-1 in South Africa in four weeks (the first win was in the Tri Nations, then Sean Fitzpatrick’s team won their first-ever series in South Africa). Colossal team in every position – back row of Josh Kronfeld, Michael Jones and Zinzan Brooke. Tasty.”

England’s 2003 team was ranked second. “….led by Martin Johnson to World Cup glory, were so good that they were actually a little past their peak by the time of the tournament. England gave what was their greatest performance in history in the grand slam match in Dublin earlier that year.”

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The All Blacks side “that dominated the 2015 World Cup in England under the inspiration of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, with hardly a weak link anywhere”, were ranked third.

Ellis Genge of England and Leicester, took on Aston Hewitt of the Dragons, in the last sixteen of the RugbyPass FIFA Pros competition:

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Rounding out his top 10 were:

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4th: Wales’ great team of the early 1970s, inspired by Gareth Edwards and Barry John.
5th: South Africa’s 1997-98 team under Nick Mallett
6th: England’s squad which won three grand slams between 1991 and 1995
7th: Ireland’s 2018 grand slam winning team under Kiwi coach Joe Schmidt
8th: England’s 2016 grand slam winning side
9th: Wales’ grand slam winning teams coached by Kiwi Warren Gatland
10th: South Africa’s champion 2019 Rugby World Cup team.

Last week, Jones listed Dan Carter as only the 10th best first-five of all-time, instead opting for a left-field selection for his pick at No. 1.

Writing for the Sunday Times alongside fellow pundit Stuart Barnes, the pair ranked Carter in vastly different positions, with Barnes placing the former All Blacks pivot at the top of his rankings.

It isn’t the first time the duo have disagreed about the status of an All Blacks legend, with Jones last week leaving former New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw out of his top 10 all-time test captains, while Barnes placed him at No. 1.

Jones didn’t even have Carter listed as his best All Blacks playmaker, with Andrew Mehrtens selected three spots higher seventh place.

Stephen Jones’ top 10 No. 10s: 1 David Watkins (Wales), 2 Juan Martín Hernández (Argentina), 3 Jonathan Davies (Wales), 4 John Rutherford (Scotland), 5 Michael Lynagh (Australia), 6 Phil Bennett (Wales), 7 Andrew Mehrtens (New Zealand), 8 Jonny Wilkinson (England), 9 Barry John (Wales), 10 Dan Carter (New Zealand).

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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