On Saturday, June 11, Wales will take on the mighty New Zealand in the first of three tests as Wales look to test themselves against the world’s best in their own back yard. Here at TSZ, we will take a historical look back at Wales’s record against the big three southern hemisphere teams and ultimately determine who they have historically found to be the most difficult opponent.
This piece will focus on Wales’s record against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand and will not include Argentina, who only joined the so called “big boys” in The Rugby Championship (formerly known as the Tri Nations) competition back in 2012. Stats will be provided from stats.espnscrum.com
First up we will take a historical look back at Wales’s overall record in matches against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Data relates to all matches played between the nations, dating back to 1871 when records began.
We can clearly see that over the years Wales have not enjoyed playing against any of the teams, in particular suffering huge loss percentage rates of 90% against both South Africa and New Zealand. Wales favour playing against Australia as they have their best win percentage rate against the Aussies, but still, they only have won a quarter of the matches played.
Next up we will dig a little deeper in terms of how Wales have performed against these teams on home soil, away soil and on neutral territory.
With the backing of the passionate Welsh crowd, Wales feel that they can give anyone a good game at home but let’s see how they have fared against the big three southern hemisphere teams.
Wales have only beaten South Africa twice from 18 attempts at home and have an equally poor record against New Zealand at home, winning only three times from 19 games: but at least Wales’s win percentage increases when compared to their overall record, which shows the advantage of playing behind the backing of the home crowd. It’s a similar story when looking at how Wales get on against Australia: their win percentage increases to 33% with eight wins from 24 matches.
Let’s see how Wales get on when playing against these teams in their own back yard. Welsh fans look away now, these stats may make for some grim reading!
Wales quite simply have a shocking record against all three of these teams. They have never beaten South Africa (10 games), nor New Zealand (seven games) and have only ever beaten Australia once in 12 attempts. Are these ominous signs for Wales’s upcoming tests against the Kiwis?
Next step is to see how Wales have fared when playing on neutral territory. Most of these games are World Cup games, apart from when Wales played friendly matches at Wembley against New Zealand in 1997 and South Africa in 1998.
Wales suffer an equally poor record against South Africa (losing all three games) and New Zealand (losing all four games) when playing on neutral territory. When playing Australia on neutral territory, Wales have won one game and lost two games: again reiterating their preference to play the Aussies.
The stats clearly show that Wales have a very poor record when playing Australia, South Africa and New Zealand on home soil, away soil or even on neutral ground. Most notably, we have established that Wales have performed better against Australia, whilst they have lost 90% of matches played against both South Africa and New Zealand. Another notable statistic that this investigation has brought to light is that Wales are yet to beat South Africa or New Zealand when playing away from Wales- so it looks like Wales have a massive task to win just one match against the All Blacks in the upcoming three-match series.
Ahead of Wales’s three match test series against New Zealand, here are a few quirky stats to get your teeth into.
The earlier analysis highlighted Wales’s struggles when playing down in New Zealand (0 matches won and seven defeats) but here we can roughly try to work out what the scores could be. Down in New Zealand, Wales have only scored on average 6.57 points whilst they have conceded 40.57 points per game. A potential clue to how heavy a defeat Wales are in for, well according to the historic stats anyway.
If Wales are to record a surprise victory, their best hope is to catch out a ring rusty New Zealand who haven’t played since the victory in the World Cup Final. Since that victory, a number of high profile Kiwi players have ended their international careers with Tony Woodcock, Richie McCaw and Kevin Mealamu retiring; whilst Dan Carter, Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu all joined clubs in France making them unavailable for selection.