All Blacks close in on record

While South African cavemen ponder the workings of a simple wheel, the All Blacks spaceship looks set to go where no tier-one Test side has gone before, writes JON CARDINELLI.

On Wednesday, the acting SA Rugby president and the Springbok coach made their case for a change to the country's structures to a 54-man delegation in Cape Town. Mark Alexander called for collaboration between the franchises and the national team. Allister Coetzee painted a bleak yet accurate picture of the state of South African rugby, and asked all those present if they truly believed themselves to be professionals operating within a professional system.

While these messages were delivered with power and feeling, they amounted to little more than stating the obvious. South African rugby has been plagued by the same problems for many years. Coetzee is not the first national coach to take issue with self-serving provincial unions as well as a governing body that doesn't appear to have the Boks' interests at heart.

Indeed, the success of the coaches indaba will be measured by its results. Coaches need to admit that they aren't doing nearly enough to develop elite players and advance the state of professionalism in South Africa. Having admitted that the system isn't working, the leadership of SA Rugby has to take charge and ensure that these coaches follow through on promises to share information for the good of the national game.

It's been 21 years since rugby turned professional. It's depressing to think that South African rugby is still battling to put these building blocks in place.

From player management to core skill development, from the training of top-flight coaches to the issue of transformation, SA Rugby has dragged its feet for more than two decades.

Meanwhile, the All Blacks continue to benefit from their own national structures. Following the side's record 57-15 win against the Boks at Kings Park, coach Steve Hansen credited the New Zealand Rugby Union for the part they have played in the national team's ongoing success.

As many as 14 Super Rugby titles have been won by New Zealand teams since 1996. The All Blacks have won two World Cups and 14 Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship trophies.

The current side is now on the verge of winning its 18th successive Test and breaking the tier-one record. You wouldn't bet against the All Blacks beating the Wallabies this Saturday, especially since they haven't lost a Test at Eden Park since 1994.

The Boks have failed to match the All Blacks' consistency. While they have won two World Cups (in 1995 and 2007), and they have enjoyed a few other memorable Test seasons (1998, 2004, 2009 and 2013), they have not managed to establish themselves as the premier side on the planet for any significant period of time.

While South African rugby ponders the workings of a simple wheel, the All Blacks spaceship looks set to go where no tier-one Test side has gone before. While the fight continues in South African rugby to convince certain people about the bare necessities of a professional set-up, the New Zealanders are aiming to take their game to another level.

And the scary thing is that there may be more to come from this All Blacks side, even after a likely win against the Wallabies this Saturday.

The all-time record for the most consecutive Test wins is currently held by Cyprus. The validity of that record, however, is certainly up for debate.

Cyprus won 24 games on the trot between 2008 and 2014. That run included four victories against fellow minnows Bulgaria, as well as two wins against each of Monaco, Bosnia, Greece, Luxembourg, Finland, Austria, Slovenia and Hungary.

The All Blacks may well go on to eclipse that record. Assuming that they beat the Wallabies this Saturday and notch up their 18th successive victory, they will have the opportunity to add four more to their tally when they face Ireland (in Chicago), Italy (Rome), Ireland (Dublin) and France (Paris) this November.

A 3-0 series win against the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand next year could extend their streak to a record-breaking 25. The All Blacks have won their last 44 Tests in New Zealand. The last time they lost a Test was in September 2009 (to the Boks).

714 – Points scored
243 – Points conceded
98 – Tries scored
10 – Victories against Rugby Championship nations

1 Cyprus: 24 (2008-2014)
2 New Zealand: 17 (1965-1969)
2 South Africa: 17 (1997-1998)
2 Lithuania: 17 (2006-2010)
2 New Zealand: 17 (2013-2014)
2 New Zealand: 17* (2015-2016)

Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

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Jon Cardinelli