‘Rugby’s next great rivalry’: the New Zealand press react to England defeat

The All Blacks reign is over after they were comprehensively outplayed in Yokohama

Tom Curry and Billy Vunipola after England’s win over the All Blacks. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty

Tom Curry and Billy Vunipola after England’s win over the All Blacks. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty

 

What a difference a week makes. New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup dream has been shattered, after they well and truly met their match on Saturday morning.

England are into the final, after they beat the defending champions 19-7 in Yokohama - delivering a performance full of pace, power and unwavering intensity.

Eddie Jones’s side gave the All Blacks a taste of their own medicine. Their linspeed was ferocious, their defence inpenetrable and their handling impeccable.

There were a number of standout players in white shirts, with Maro Itoje, Tom Curry and Sam Underhill - 24, 21 and 23-years-old respectively - completely bullying the Kiwi pack.

And while the future looks bright for England, Saturday’s defeat marks the end of an era for the All Blacks, with Steve Hansen stepping down after seven years at the helm.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen wih captain Kieran Read. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen wih captain Kieran Read. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP

So what next for New Zealand? Writing for the New Zealand Herald, Gregor Paul suggests it could take a while for them to recover from such a galling defeat.

“And maybe, too, we saw a few cracks in the All Blacks psychological armour that haven’t been seen for a while.

“They looked rattled for much of the game. They looked like they simply didn’t know where to run as there were white jerseys everywhere and not one of them missed a tackle.

“The nature of the defeat, it being so comprehensive, means it will leave deep scars within the All Blacks. They won’t get over it quickly because they were exposed on the biggest stage of all.

“But their wounds will heal. In time. That’s the All Blacks’ way – to come back stronger and better and they will need to.”

But while the All Blacks clearly didn’t produce their best in Yokohama, the day belonged to England, after they produced a generational performance.

Again, Paul writes: “They are the best team here. That much shouldn’t be disputed now even though they don’t yet have the trophy in their grasp.

“But if they play like this in the final. No one will stop them. They showed within the first minute that they were not the soft touch Ireland were.

“Their defence didn’t bend. It didn’t flinch and it didn’t look apparent at any stage how it could actually be breached.”

There is a sense among the New Zealand media that the All Blacks simply came up against a better side, and there is no real sense of injustice after their defeat.

Indeed, also in the NZ Herald, Dylan Cleaver writes: “The All Blacks came up against an England side that is the real deal. Some teams are beaten the moment they line up in the tunnel and see 23 blokes next to them dressed in black.

“England used to be that sort of team. Not so much now. You could tell by the way they met the haka.

“By the way they spent the first minutes of this game busting tackles, stripping the All Blacks of possession and generally imposing themselves at boss level.

“You sense this is rugby’s next great rivalry. It’s about time that England came to the party with all their resources and bluster. Not that it will give New Zealanders much solace right now.”

Saturday’s win will go down as one of English rugby’s finest hours, and their coach Eddie Jones was the man behind a tactical masterpiece, having spent the week downplaying his side’s chances.

And in Stuff.Co.NZ, Richard Knowler hails the Australian responsible for downing the Kiwis. He writes: “Jones, who spent all week toying with the media and fans like a mischievous private school boy executing pranks on his nanny, pulled off a magnificent heist in Japan.

“He told us that no-one rated his team, that even his wife supported the All Blacks and that his boys were being shown no respect by anyone apart from their mums and dads and his coaching staff.

“Deep inside England’s bunker in Tokyo Bay, however, Jones had kept fuelling his players’ self-belief by telling them he was going to give them the game plan that would topple the team hunting the title three-peat.

“England went out to out-play the All Blacks by playing as if it was they were the ones who had learned their craft in the Shaky Isles, and rugby in their DNA.”

The All Blacks were kept scoreless until the 57th minute, when Ardia Savea pounced on an overthrown Jamie George lineout to score.

Tom Curry carries during England’s win over the All Blacks. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty
Tom Curry carries during England’s win over the All Blacks. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty

And it is England’s defence which has earned them plaudits - in the NZ Herald, Liam Napier writes: “Eddie Jones claimed he had been plotting this match for two-and-a-half years and his tactics sure turned to gold. England dominated the air, the collisions, the breakdown – and they had two tries scrubbed out.

“In the end, the final margin flattered the All Blacks. Holding the All Blacks scoreless in the first half, for the second time in more than 20 years, typifies an English performance that was led by supreme defence.”

For the All Blacks, it’s time to lick their wounds. But they’ll come back - they always do.

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