I’ve done this graph to show the magnitude of Jamie Joseph’s team’s achievement in winning the Shield in Auckland.
(Mind you, as you can see, the 27-0 mauling the Lions gave Auckland on Saturday is still ten short of the 37-point hammering Wellington got the last time the two teams met in a Shield challenge at the same ground fifteen years ago.)
Remarkably, it was only the second time Wellington has ever lifted the Shield at Eden Park. The other time was in 1963, when victory was by the more sober margin of 8-3.
Wellington have won two other Ranfurly Shield matches in Auckland. But not at Eden Park. And only one of those was a challenge.
The other, oddly enough, was a defence. (Which is why you won’t see it in the above table, but will in the one below.)
Wellington beat Auckland in the first-ever Shield challenge – at Alexandra Park in 1904.
Auckland won it back off them the next year, and rather selfishly kept it for nine years until 1913.
Wellington nabbed it from Auckland’s conqueror, Taranaki, in 1914, and kept it for another six years The credit for this most un-Wellington-like tenure mainly goes to Kaiser Bill, who kept the nation’s rugby players otherwise engaged between 1914 and 1918.
Even so, in the two years after the Great War Wellington put together its greatest-ever Shield winning streak of 15 successful defences.
(Well, it’s been our only streak, really. The others have been 4, 2, 1, 5, 4, 0, 4 and 0 not out.)
In 1919, Wellington sportingly became the first holders to take the Shield on tour – to Canterbury no less.
Buoyed by that success (23-9), in 1920 they won away defences against Taranaki, Auckland, South Canterbury and Otago, before losing the Log to Southland in faraway Invercargill.
The Auckland match was played in the Domain. The next year, a new Auckland ground called Eden Park hosted its first test – the first-ever test against the Springboks.
From what Steve Tew was saying in the paper yesterday, the NZRU is thinking of making the holders take the Shield on tour more often.
And fair enough too – except when it’s us!
It would be a shame, given how long it’s taken the Lions to to drag the Log back to their den, if they weren’t allowed a good run of home defences first.
In contrast to the table of challenges above, Wellington’s record of defences against Auckland looks like this: