Reds breakthrough win another sign of trans-Tasman competitiveness

rugby07 May 2024 07:30| © Reuters
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Reds Rugby © Getty Images

Reds snapped a 25-year hoodoo with a victory over the Crusaders in Super Rugby Pacific last weekend and offered yet more evidence that trans-Tasman Sea rugby is as competitive as it has been for a decade.

New Zealand teams have won every international edition of Super Rugby since the New South Wales Waratahs lifted the crown in 2014 with only the Brumbies consistently flying the flag for Australia at the business end of the competition.

The struggling Crusaders are clearly not the power they have been in recent years this season but the Reds on Saturday became only the second Australian team to beat the 14-times Super Rugby champions in their own back yard since 2004.

"It was massive, wasn't it? Huge result from the fellas," Reds co-captain Tate McDermott, who was suspended for the match, told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday.

"There's a huge buzz here in the playing group and hopefully there's a buzz in Queensland rugby as well. I'm really proud of the way the boys have handled themselves.

"Obviously, 25 years is a long time to go without a victory in Christchurch and the manner in which they did it was pretty spectacular."

The 33-28 victory was impressive, the Reds finally getting over the line in a close match against New Zealand opposition after heartbreaking losses to the table-topping Hurricanes and Blues on the last scores of the games.

Saturday's win gave the Reds a record of three wins from five matches this season against opposition from the other side of the Tasman Sea, indicating that new coach Les Kiss has built a side that can consistently compete with New Zealand's best.

That has rarely been the case for any Australian team in recent years.


The nadir came in 2021 when Australian sides lost 23 of the 25 contests against New Zealand teams and the record did not improve too much over the first two seasons of Super Rugby Pacific.

There have been other successes for Australian sides this year, a relief as much for Super Rugby Pacific organisers as anyone.

The Brumbies handed the Hurricanes their first loss of the season late last month, although that victory was tempered by the fresh memory of the 46-7 pummelling they had received at the hands of the Blues the previous week.

The New South Wales Waratahs have, remarkably, beaten the Crusaders twice but managed no other wins, while the Melbourne Rebels beat the Highlanders before being thumped by the Crusaders and Blues over the last couple of weeks.

Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt said last week that building consistency of performance was a key challenge for him in his new job, suggesting he might be looking hard at the team his former defence coach at Ireland has built in Brisbane.

There have been slip-ups for the Reds this season - they lost to both Western Force and Moana Pasifika - and they will be keen to avoid another at home to the Rebels this weekend.

"They are capable of anything and we're really wary of that," Wallabies scrumhalf McDermott added.

"As soon as you give them a little bit of momentum, they're a really good side. We've got to respect them across the park."