Australia and New Zealand Rugby: What is the Bledisloe Cup?

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

The Bledisloe Cup was first introduced in 1931 and is a popular rugby union competition between the national teams of New Zealand’s All Blacks and Australia’s Wallabies.

The Cup is named after New Zealand’s governor-general, Lord Bledisloe, who was a rugby fan and commissioned the Cup to fuel the rivalry between the two great rugby playing nations. The Bledisloe Cup remains one of the most popular contests in trans-Tasman sport.

The frequency of the Bledisloe Cup has been varied along with the amount of matches played in each tournament. Since 1982 it has been played annually and consists of an annual three-match series, reduced to a two-match series in the Rugby World Cup year, with two of the matches played as part of the Rugby Championship.

The All Blacks remain the overall champions, taking their 50th Bledisloe Cup title in 2022, and the last 20 titles in a row, while Australia has retained just 12 titles.

Bledisloe Cup Match Facts

First winners – The first winners of the Bledisloe Cup were the All Blacks in a 20-13 win to Auckland. It wasn’t until 1934 that Australia won the title for the first time, beating New Zealand 25-11 in Sydney.

Hong Kong hosts – Hong Kong hosted the first Bledisloe Cup match at a neutral ground outside of the Rugby World Cup when the fourth and final Test of an extended series was played there in 2008 in a bid to promote the sport in Asia. The match drew a crowd of 39,000 to see the All Blacks defeat the Wallabies 19-14.

New Zealand – failed to win the Cup between 1998 and 2002, which was the longest period the team had gone without holding the coveted trophy. The team scored their 400th try in the Cup in 2020 and their largest winning margin in a Bledisloe Cup match is 37 points (a 43-6 win in Wellington in 1996).

Australia – last won the Bledisloe Cup in 2002. Matt Burke secured a match-winning penalty to give the side a 16-14 win against the All Blacks in Sydney. Australia’s 47-26 win in Perth in 2019 was their highest-ever score against the All Blacks in 165 Tests – the match also saw them equal their biggest winning margin (21) in the fixture.

The Players – Richie McCaw has made the most Bledisloe Cup appearances. The record for most tries in a match by an individual player is four and is shared by a player from each side – Greg Cornelsen for Australia and Beauden Barrett for New Zealand.

2022 Bledisloe Cup Match Highlights

The All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup title in 2022 in a 39-37 thriller match at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. The result came down to a single call in the final minute of the match which left plenty of controversy.

The Wallabies and All Blacks went to the half-time break locked at 10-all before New Zealand kicked on to a 31-13 lead after 55 minutes. But the Wallabies managed to take a 37-34 lead in the 77th minute when Nic White took a penalty goal. The Aussies were then handed a penalty in the last minute and were heading for a win, when the referee called Bernard Foley for a delayed game, giving the All Blacks a scrum five metres out.

After holding them out for a few phases, the All Blacks went wide, and full-back Jordie Barrett seized the win for New Zealand, enabling them to retain the trophy for a 20th year.

Bledisloe Cup Fixtures 2023

The Bledisloe Cup fixtures for 2023 have now been confirmed. The first match will kick off at the MCG on Saturday, July 29 – the first time the ground has hosted rugby union since 2007. A week later, the team will play in Dunedin before the Wallabies head to France ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Wallabies v New Zealand, 7:50pm AEST, Saturday 29 July at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Wallabies v New Zealand, 2:35pm NZST/12:35pm AEST Saturday 5 August at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

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