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New Zealand's bid for history ended in Hong Kong, with a last-gasp 26-24 defeat to Australia. Australia then defended their URUWC title with a 25-16 win in Wales. Their next defence is against England this Saturday.
Meanwhile, Denmark have got rid of the sp00n! Having drawn 14-14 with Norway, they then beat Hungary 21-20.
URUWC champions: Australia URUWC wooden sp00n: Hungary
Now the 2011 Rugby World Cup is done and dusted, time for a quick review of the last 12 months in the URUWC. After taking the title at Twickenham last November, South Africa didn't resume action until the 2011 Tri-Nations tournament.
Game 1: South Africa lost to Australia Game 3: Australia lost to New Zealand Game 5: New Zealand lost to South Africa
South Africa thus began and ended the tournament as URUWC holders, although it was Australia who actually won the tournament. The Springboks then took the title into the World Cup, and held it until the quarter-finals, when they lost to Australia. The Wallabies lost to the All Blacks in the semis, and the All Blacks saw off France (just) to become both official and unofficial World Champions.
In the four years since the last World Cup, the URUWC title has spent just three weeks outside of the Tri-Nations. In June 2009, France beat New Zealand in Dunedin to take the title, only to lose it back to the All Blacks a week later in Wellington. Then, in the 2010 autumn internationals, England took the title off Australia, defended it against Samoa, but lost it to South Africa.
The Tri-Nations dominance thus goes on. Having held the URUWC title continuously from 1906 to 1964, they have not often let others get a look-in since, having held the title for 12313 of 17249 days from then until the end of the recent World Cup.
New Zealand are not due in action until 9 June 2012, when they play the first test of three at home to Ireland. Norway (who took the sp00n from Hungary on 4 June this year) are not in action for a while either: they play Austria on 5 May 2012.
URUWC champions: New Zealand URUWC wooden sp00n: Norway
Following their RWC success, New Zealand extended their run as URUWC champions to 14 successful defences in total. Their first successful defence was in the World Cup Final itself (see previous post). They then beat Ireland three times in June, before completing six wins out of six in the Rugby Championship (the new expanded version of the Tri-Nations - they beat Australia, South Africa and Argentina home and away). Four more defences followed - a thrilling draw against Australia, and easy wins over Scotland, Italy and Wales. However, they were then stopped by a stunning defeat to England at Twickenham on 1st Dec. For the first time since 2007, the URUWC will be contested at the Six Nations Championship, starting with England v Scotland on 2nd Feb 2013.
New Zealand now have the longest four runs as URUWC champions in history: 1987-1990, 17 successful defences 2009-2010, 14 successful defences 2011-2012, 14 successful defences 2005-2006, 13 successful defences
Meanwhile, Norway offloaded the wooden sp00n to Austria in May 2012 - the Austrians have since lost to Bulgaria and Cyprus, and next face Hungary in April 2013.
URUWC champions: England URUWC wooden sp00n: Austria
In the Six Nations Championship, England defended their URUWC title four times (their most successful run in the competition since 2003-04), but lost on the final day of the competition to Wales. The Welsh, shorn of their considerable British Lions contingent, then travelled to Japan for a two-match series. The Welsh won 22-18 in the first, but lost 23-8 a week later. Japan thus took the URUWC title for the first time in their history.
It was only the fifth time that the title has gone to a team outside the traditional "big eight" of international rugby union, following Romania in 1984, Argentina in 1985 and 1986, and Samoa in 1999. On all four previous occasions, the holders lost the title in their very first defence. Japan, however, have already made history by defending their title twice, with home wins over Canada and the United States in the Pacific Nations Cup.
Japan's next fixture is in November, when they will face Scotland at Murrayfield. Unless Scotland win that match, plus subsequent fixtures against South Africa and Australia, the title will not be returning to the Six Nations in 2014. Austria, meanwhile, have lost to Hungary and Slovenia, and still hold the sp00n.
URUWC champions: Japan URUWC wooden sp00n: Austria
Japan's first defence turned out not to be against Scotland, as stated in the previous post, but against New Zealand on 2nd November 2013. Unsurprisingly, the All Blacks won 54-6. In the autumn internationals, New Zealand then beat France, England and Ireland (although all three games could genuinely have gone either way). They haven't played since, but next month embark upon a three-match series at home to England.
Meanwhile, Austria beat Bulgaria last October.
URUWC champions: New Zealand URUWC wooden sp00n: Bulgaria
So I started this topic years ago, and then disappeared. I kept tracking the URUWC for awhile, but then my hard drive crashed and I couldn't bring myself to research it all again. I finally redid it over the past few days, and then started googling around and found my way back here. Kind of disappointing that Japan took the title when I wasn't looking. It feels a bit cheapened, considering they won it from a Welsh side that had more than 15 players on Lions tour, but if both countries gave caps, then who am I to argue?
Your first reply to this topic pointed out some errors in my original research. Fortunately, I got it right this time. From what I recall, I also looked at some games in the very years incorrectly: back in the time of the zero point try, unconverted tries were used as a tie-breaker; I believe that I had not been aware of that and simply regarded all draws as successful defenses without considering tries.
I love your wooden sthingy spooooon concept! That must have taken quite a bit more work than the championship, since so many more teams would be involved and information on them is a bit harder to come by.
So New Zealand defended the title through the Rugby Championship until losing to South Africa in the final match. South Africa lost first defence to Ireland who have managed to defend it against Georgia. Next up Ireland v Australia.
Love the idea of the wooden sthingy but don't have a handle on it.
Since the last update (three years ago), the URUWC has progressed as follows: Ireland held the title until losing in the 2015 Six Nations to Wales (23-16 in Cardiff) The title returned to Ireland in a 2015 World Cup warm-up match (35-21 in Cardiff) …and then back to Wales in the return match three weeks later (16-10 at Lansdowne Road) Wales took the title into the 2015 World Cup, and lost their final group game to Australia (15-6 at Twickenham) Australia lost 34-17 to New Zealand in the World Cup Final at Twickenham New Zealand had 10 successful defences in 2016 until losing 40-29 to Ireland in Chicago Two weeks later, the All Blacks had their revenge, winning 21-9 at Lansdowne Road Since then, New Zealand have played only four internationals – a win over France last November, followed by three tests against the British & Irish Lions, which I refuse to count for the purposes of the URUWC due to the four-year gaps between Lions tours.
New Zealand beat Samoa last summer, followed by a clean sweep in the Tri-Nations (two wins each against Australia, Argentina and South Africa). They then lost their final Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in October.
Australia beat Japan and Wales before losing at Twickenham to England.
England ended their year with a win over Samoa, and began the 2018 Six Nations with wins over Italy and Wales. However, they then lost to Scotland in round 3. Scotland lost to Ireland in round 4, and Ireland retained the unofficial title with victory over England in round 5.
Finally, Ireland lost to Australia in Brisbane last weekend, so Australia are currently the champions. However, the two sides meet on both of the next two weekends, so Ireland have a chance to regain the title.
Following on from last year's post, Ireland did indeed manage to beat Australia in both Melbourne and Sydney last June to take the title. They then held the title throughout the autumn internationals, before losing their Six Nations opener to England (32-20) in Dublin. In the third round of Six Nations matches, England lost 21-13 to Wales in Cardiff, and the Welsh completed the Grand Slam to hold on to the title. Next up for them is a World Cup warm-up against the English at Twickenham on 11th August.