Rugby

All Blacks v Wales - five things we learnt

2016-06-26 09:10
Kieran Read (Getty Images)

Dunedin - New Zealand beat Wales on Saturday to sweep the series 3-0. We look at five things we learnt from the tour:

Rugby is a 23-man game

Only 15 players take the field, but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's secret to winning is the quality of the eight players on the bench, many of them multi-taskers, and knowing when to unleash them. In the third Test, Israel Dagg started at fullback and finished on the wing, regular fullback Ben Smith started on the wing and moved to inside centre, wing Waisake Naholo came off the bench to play outside centre and fly-half Beauden Barrett finished up at fullback. The constant reorganisation came in the second half when the All Blacks scored four of their six tries.

Time for a global calendar

It is a tough ask for northern sides to meet their June Test commitments at the end of an arduous season, especially after a World Cup when they are playing for 14 months. Wales coach Warren Gatland refused to use that as an excuse for his side's three-Test hiding but he did talk up World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont's preference to move the Six Nations and June tours back a month to integrate the northern and southern hemispheres.

The more indoor stadiums the better

Winter weather in Dunedin can be nasty and its former Test rugby base, Carisbrook, was not known as the House of Pain for nothing with its exposure to chilly rain and sleet. But the new roofed stadium, like the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, offers a fast-paced pitch ideal for free-flowing rugby. The last three Tests under the Dunedin roof have produced 19 tries.

Skipper Read can fill McCaw void

Anyone who thought the All Blacks would suffer with the retirement of Ritchie McCaw has been proven wrong with the captaincy of Kieran Read. Like McCaw, Read has a "follow me" style and has lifted his game to a new level to lead the All Blacks to the series sweep. Read has been a dominant force in the lineouts, skilful off the back of the scrum and a destructive tackler, leading coach Steve Hansen to ponder aloud whether he might end up even better than McCaw.

Williams a bright spark for Wales

It was not all doom and gloom for Wales. They at least had Liam Williams a player of genuine talent. Unfortunately, after George North hobbled out of the tour with a hamstring injury in the first Test, Wales could offer Williams little support. While the All Blacks had Ben Smith and Israel Dagg working in tandem to mesmerise Wales, Williams was doing a similar job with his metres gained and offloads but often as a lone ranger. Worth pencilling in for the Lions tour already.

Read more on:    all blacks  |  wales  |  rugby
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