Why Sunday's game at Eden Park presents a perfect opportunity for a Wallabies ambush
The Wallabies haven’t won a rugby Test at Eden Park since Bob Hawke was PM and Crocodile Dundee was a hit movie, but there’s a few reasons that could change this weekend.
Quite why Auckland’s suburban stadium should be such a fortress is something of a mystery but the facts are plain: New Zealand haven’t lost a test at Eden Park since 1994, although they did have a 15-15 draw with the British Irish Lions at the venue in 2017.
Their unbeaten streak tallies 43 games with the Wallabies the most obvious victim – beaten 16 times in the 16-year streak.
How bad is it for Australia at Eden Park? Well, apart from losing 25 of their 29 matches against the All Blacks there, they also lost to Ireland during the 2011 Rugby World Cup before beating Wales at the same venue in the bronze medal playoff that year.
That makes a total of 31 visits for five wins dating back to 1931.
The last time they won at the venue was in 1986 – a momentous year in Australian history.
Neighbours made its debut on TV, Paul Keating warned of a “banana republic”, Lindy Chamberlain was released from prison and the last ever game of rugby league was played at the old Sydney Sports Ground.
In hindsight, the fact the Wallabies beat the All Blacks 22-9 at Eden Park could be regarded as an equally historic moment.
But if ever there was a chance to make more history, it’s this Sunday. And there are two factors in Australia’s favour.
For the first time in its history, Eden Park will not officially be known as Eden Park. Rather it will be Coopers Catch Stadium after ASB – which became the first official naming rights holder this year – gifted the rights to a fish and chip shop in the South Island tourist town of Kaikoura as a gesture of goodwill towards small businesses suffering through COVID-19.
The All Blacks have never won at Coopers Catch Stadium.
More importantly, the second test is to be played on a Sunday afternoon – not the All Blacks’ favourite time to play rugby.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 14, 2020
The last time the All Blacks lost a test at Eden Park was a Sunday afternoon when they went down 23-20 to France in 1994 after the tourists scored the “try from the end of the world”.
The French also beat the All Blacks on a Sunday afternoon at Twickenham in the 1999 World Cup.
The Wallabies beat the All Blacks on a Sunday afternoon at Ballymore in 1992 and before that it was a Sunday PM in Dublin when Australia beat their arch-rivals in the 1991 Rugby World Cup semifinal.
For the Wallabies, this Sunday can’t come soon enough.
– Michael Donaldson
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