All Black loose forward Kieran Read on the charge against
England during their test at Twickenham in London. (Photo
by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
Five years of test rugby have honed Kieran Read into a
top-notch All Black and perhaps, in Richie McCaw's absence, the
But Read has never wandered off into summer after a final
test defeat and the sort of beating England delivered
yesterday with their 38-21 victory at Twickenham.
His 48th international was a blunt, savage reminder about the
vagaries of test rugby if sides are not in the zone.
All year Steve Hansen, Richie McCaw and others have spoken
about the small margins in test rugby, statements which
appeared unusual as the All Blacks belted through most of
There were wobbles when the words took on more depth.
However, the end-of-year march through Europe and England's
issues suggested a clean-sweep even to most British
journalists in a pre-match sweepstake. Assumptions are always
open for attack.
England adopted the same plan and dominated huge chunks of
"They were very smart with the way they did things," Read
"They were not overly physical but they controlled things
well and tactically they were on the money with how they used
their strengths there."
England had brought a varied plan of power and precision,
they were intelligent about how they mixed their work more
than other physical sides like the Springboks and Pumas.
There were similar accolades from coach Steve Hansen, who
admired the breadth of skills and set-piece work England
delivered, playing the sort of rugby the All Blacks would
have been proud of.
He felt his side was still in the test at halftime and
delivered that message with instructions about working more
as a team. Chances came and were taken and at 14-15 the All
Blacks had England sagging.
Defensive lapses though and other frailties cost the
Hansen did not think the final game glitches were a sign of
mental weakness but it had been a long season, a tough final
week and perhaps they had not been as focused as they wanted.
Defeat would be in the 'sort-out' dossier along with the
struggles against Ireland and the Wallabies.
"I look back at that and think it might be an awkward summer
for a bit but that's the way it goes,"Read said.
It gave him a bit to ponder as he hadn't experienced a test
loss heading into his summer break. Defeat did not change the
All Blacks' year. It was one result which showed how tough
test rugby was and would encourage other sides to try similar
"This is where the big [World Cup] games will come in a few
years time and it will also give England heart," Read said.
- Wynne Gray of the New Zealand Herald