Story: Rugby union

Jeff Wilson running against Australia, 1995

Jeff Wilson running against Australia, 1995

During the 1990s Australia became a far more formidable opponent for the All Blacks than in earlier years, winning the Bledisloe Cup (for competition between the two countries) in 1992 and 1994. However, at Eden Park, Auckland, in July 1995 the All Blacks defeated Australia 28–16. The next week in Sydney they won 34–23 to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup. Jeff Wilson, shown here in the first game, was an important weapon for the All Blacks during the series.

Wilson was a phenomenal rugby player. When still in his teens, he had represented his country in both test rugby and one-day cricket. In November 1993, less than a month after turning 20, he played in his first rugby test match and scored three tries, converting the third from the sideline. His teammates nicknamed him ‘Goldie’, perhaps because of his golden touch, or his blond hair, or because he was as good as gold. A wing or fullback, Wilson was one of the sharpest of the All Blacks’ attacking weapons through the 1990s and into the 21st century. In Wilson, Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen, the All Blacks had a potent and envied ‘back three’. A coach of Wilson’s for Otago, the Highlanders and the All Blacks, Tony Gilbert, once said he had never seen a better player and that Wilson’s understanding of the game was several levels ahead of most players and some coaches.

Wilson gained a place in rugby history for more than just his playing. During a period of turmoil in 1995 that led to the game going professional, Wilson and his teammate Josh Kronfeld were the first to sign contracts with the New Zealand Rugby Union, thus closing a potential split in the game. Wilson played 60 test matches for New Zealand and scored 234 points.

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Reference: PS0006246-WILSON.jpg
Photograph by Andrew Cornaga

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How to cite this page:

Ron Palenski, 'Rugby union - International rugby – southern hemisphere', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 29 May 2024)

Story by Ron Palenski, published 5 Sep 2013, updated 1 Sep 2016