Welsh critic Stephen Jones has named the 1995 All Black side as the best XV of all-time Tests with little affection shown towards any of the Springboks’ World Cup winners.
Writing for The Times, Jones put the losing finalists of the 1995 Rugby World Cup on top in his rankings of the best Test teams of all time.
In beefing up his opinion, he said of his No 1-ranked team: ‘The New Zealand team that should have won Rugby World Cup in 1995 but went on the year after to beat the Springboks 3-1 in South Africa in four weeks [the first win was in the Tri-Nations, then Sean Fitzpatrick’s team won their first-ever series in South Africa]. Colossal team in every position – back row of Josh Kronfeld, Michael Jones and Zinzan Brooke.’
England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup winning team were ranked second with Richie McCaw’s 2015 World Cup winners in third.
The side ‘dominated the 2015 World Cup in England under the inspiration of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, with hardly a weak link anywhere’, he wrote.
Gareth Edwards’ Wales side of the 1970s were fourth before the first mention of the Springboks.
But it wasn’t the 1995 World Cup winners nor the 2007 squad that won the World Cup in France under Jake White but rather the Nick Mallett mentored South Africans from the 1997-98 period.
Local fans would have to look to 10th to find the current world champions. Ahead of them were England’s 1991-1995 unit, Ireland’s 2018 Grand Slam side, who were ahead of England’s 2016 grand slam XV with Warren Gatland’s Grand Slam-winning teams in ninth.