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Saturday, 17 August, 2002, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
New Zealand worthy winners?
The Tri-Nations title goes to New Zealand, as Australia fail to beat South Africa in the final tie.

Can Australia be satisfied with their performance?


Australia lined up at Ellis Park on Saturday needing a convincing win to secure their third straight Tri-Nations title.

But the Springboks were no walkover, in a game that ebbed and flowed in gripping fashion.

The Springboks win ensured they did not suffer the humiliation of a first-ever whitewash in the tournament - and also confirmed New Zealand as the tournament winners.

E-mail your reaction to the tournament.

This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appear below.

Whilst NZ don't always play the most exciting brand of rugby, Australia didn't exactly set the world on fire when they won RWC99. In modern rugby solid defence is the key to success. As has been noted, talent isn't everything, as England, France and Ireland have all found to their cost at crunch time.

I'd still have my money on an Australian World Cup win come next year (but please replace Owen Finnegan with someone who can play rugby).
Alastair Tomlinson, England

I fully agree with Mike's comments on Andrew of OZ, and the other All Black phobes that regularly write in. Get over it. The All Blacks did enough to win (just), but wasn't it great to see the talented and pacy SA backs run rings around their cumbersome Australian opposites (fat bargers?)
Peter Johnson, NZ

I for one am glad we lost the last game against South Africa. It is far better to be a year out from the World Cup as underdogs with work to do rather than favourites like England and NZ think they are (SA forget it, away from home you get hammered). We will win when it matters.
Chris Mc, UK

Congratulations to New Zealand - worthy winners with your talented, disciplined and well organised team. I could argue that we, South Africa, were unlucky losers in Durban, but in another sense the ABs could consider themselves a bit unlucky not to get a clean sweep. So well-merited in the end.
Ed, SA/London

Come on Gregan, grow up! Your team were, in my opinion, the third best in the competition
Larry, USA

Well done NZ. The competition was close but the best side won. It always amazes me what poor losers the Aussies are. They were fairly beaten by a rapidly improving Springbok side. Gregan is now complaining of incidents off the ball against South Africa and is calling for changes in the citing laws.

Come on Gregan, grow up! Your team were, in my opinion, the third best in the competition, so try to think of you coming second as being a bonus!
Larry, USA

NZ are worthy winners, they were the only team to win away from home and were just a last-gasp penalty away from a clean sweep.
Adrian Brough, UK

Oh, "Andrew" from Australia, the joy I get each week from reading your (highly patriotic) but slightly misinformed observations on the Tri-Nations and world rugby in general. "Only the Wallabies could come back from 26-9 down to almost win"...excuse me, what did South Africa do to Aus two weeks before?

"If NZ had played at J'Berg they would have been flogged" many times have the great Wallabies won there in the last 40 years? None. How many times have the All Blacks won there in the last five years? Twice.

And as for getting taken apart by England in November...well, that must be a pre-requisite for being the "best team in the world" as the Wallabies have shown for the past two seasons (not to mention defeat at the hands of the French).

The All Blacks were worthy winners
Brian Reynolds, Australia

Enjoy the rugby, but don't be many Kiwis do you see here boasting about winning or feeling the need to berate the other teams? To answer the question: yes, I think we deserved to win the Tri-Nations but frankly, it was so even, whoever won it deserved it, that's the beauty of the tournament!
Mike, NZ/London

Yes - the All Blacks were worthy winners. The Wallabies were very lucky to beat the 'blacks' in Australia. You can't be lucky all of the time!! Great series.
Brian Reynolds, Australia

The right result and the best team won. Simple as that. However, there is no question that on the day all three sides are pretty close. I would pick the All Blacks over Australia and agree with many comments that the South African side is full of potential. It could be much closer next year.

Australia's biggest problem is twofold. One, the arrogance of most Aussies blinds any chance of objective commentary, and secondly, depth of players. Should any of the key players get injured, Australia will really feel the loss.

Within both South Africa and NZ, there is huge depth and many players struggle to get into the teams due to the talent in each country.

NZ's win: logical and thoroughly merited
Roche John, Belgium

South Africa have got to sort out the high tackles made on both the Australian and NZ backs. It will cost them close games and the Boks back line is good enough to do away with this.

Overall, a great Tri-Nations that was really won before this weekend's match. I wouldn't hold much weight for the coming northern hemisphere matches. If the Tri-Nation teams are wise, they either won't go or send a young team to gain some match experience.

With a World Cup coming up and the end of a tough season, it's a lot to ask for these guys to keep playing. And that's before the national competition in NZ and South Africa have even started. NZ and South African World Cup final.
Brett, England

NZ's win: logical and thoroughly merited. For several seasons now, the overrated Australians have fluked wins against NZ in the last minute or so of play (they did it again this year).

It is therefore a form of condign punishment that they should have lost against the Boks on Saturday through a last second converted try.

NZ is the best team around and has been (despite undeserved Australian triumphs in recent years) for some time now, even if the aura of absolute invincibility has been punctured.

All three teams can hold their heads up high after the Tri-Nations series
Adrian Hathorn, Australia

On another tack, the Boks always do well against Australia (cf. last year's Tri-Nations results) and deserved to win this time. Remember the lucky Larkham drop goal in extra time in the last World Cup semi-finals which gave the Australians the win which they did not deserve?

Well done, the Boks!
Roche John, Belgium

Now that the competition is over and I can put my national pride to one side, I can say that southern hemisphere football has evened up and all three teams can hold their heads up high after the Tri-Nations series.

As many people have already said, a penalty here and a bad bounce there could have turned the competition on its head - it was that close. But in all honesty, if I was to put my money on a team winning the World Cup, I would still put it on the Wallabies. Why?

1: Because overall I believe that they're the more consistent of the three teams.
2: In tight situations their ball execution is clinical.
3: Come World Cup time, they will have a very handy mix of new talent (many thanks to Rodgers, Sailor, Walker and Tuquiri for giving the Wallaby boys a hand) and experience.
4: Last but not least, they really believe in themselves.

This has nothing to do with talent either. In fact, looking ahead five or six years, South Africa are looking a better side in terms of talent out of the three. But that's neither here nor there, because we all know that talent is never enough.
Adrian Hathorn, Australia

My Aussie work colleagues are finally tasting the bitterness of an injury-time loss, and they don't like it!
Doug Macintyre, London

The All Blacks were thoroughly deserving winners of this years Tri-Nations. Their defence was unstoppable, as was the attack. Australia should stop complaining about spilt milk and set about making a change. South Africa, given time and more experience, are going to become one hell of a good team again, just keep the tackles down boys.
Graeme, England

NZ shaded it thanks to some heroic defence and more consistency throughout the competition. My Aussie work colleagues are finally tasting the bitterness of an injury-time loss, and they don't like it!

However, there was little to separate the teams, and all three will have a realistic chance of winning the World Cup next year. I was especially impressed by the pace and spirit of the Boks, they are going to be formidable next year.
Doug Macintyre, London (ex-pat Kiwi)

I don't think NZ deserved to win the Tri-Nations; they got the result last week, because of poor refereeing decisions. Mathematics played part in them winning.

I honestly believe that there isn't much between these teams. Australia are not on the decline, like many people think, they have the experience and players to win the World Cup next year.

I can't wait for the World Cup next year
Johan van der Merwe, South Africa

I think South Africa, will by this time next year, be in good shape with their young squad. New Zealand have good young players as well, so come the World Cup, I think luck of the draw will determine the winner.
Rouan, United Kingdom

I think the All Blacks were deserved winners although I believe with a few more games under their belts the young Springbok team will be a force to reckon with next year.
Al, USA (Kiwi ex pat)

The All Blacks are most definitely deserved winners. Everyone talks about their defence but they also scored more tries than the other two sides, they were also the only team to win away from home and probably the best team in Sydney. South Africa are going to be a real force again which is great for all rugby people.
Steve, New Zealand

Well done to all three teams for one of the best Tri-Nation Tournament to date. And a special word of congratulations to the All Blacks for winning the tournament. You are deserving winners! I believe the All Blacks made less mistakes and made better use of their opportunities to convert advantage into points.

Let's not forget that the Northern Hemisphere teams have beaten all three of these teams late last year. I can't wait for the World Cup next year. It is going to be a thrilling contest!
Johan van der Merwe, South Africa

Only the poor ref's decisions gave NZ the cup
Andrew, Australia

As a kiwi ex-pat I can not pretend to be objective. If I had to classify the three teams in two words I would say...

All Blacks - regaining heritage
South Africa - talented future
Australia - past glories

I don't think there is anything between these three teams. The only difference is the bounce of the ball or a referee's decision.

The World Cup next year will be a cracker. Sorry Australia, but your time at the top is over! Springbok v NZ for the final, now that is what any rugby nut dreams about.
Pax, Netherlands

The All Blacks thoroughly deserved the victory. Their defence was outstanding (not withstanding a couple of errors against the Wallabies), and what's more they took their chances when at crucial moments. Still I think there's not much in it.

The Wallabies backline still looks threatening, as does the Springboks who are to be commended for their risk taking and spirit. To win the World Cup next year, the All Blacks will need to inject some flair and innovation in their backline, otherwise it will be another tournament of unfulfilled expectation.
Dennis de Reus, New Zealand

Were NZ worthy winners? Too right! Our game had a soft underbelly that was exposed both on the field and in the board room.......and are doing something about it. We're not there yet....but Mitch and Robbie have pointed the ship in the right direction.
Chris, NZ

Only the poor ref's decisions gave NZ the cup. SA won that game in Durban. They should have won the Tri-Nations title.

Only the Wallabies the best team in the world could come back from 26-9 down to nearly take the game. If NZ or any other team played in Jo-berg they would have been flogged. South Africa are going to be the number one threat to the Wallabies at the World Cup along with England and maybe France with New Zealand an outside chance. You watch England take apart the All Blacks in November.
Andrew, Australia

The biggest winners from this Tri-Nations series were the Boks
Gazza, NZ

Wake up New Zealand. Take a good look, we all know and hate the fact that the Wallabies are by far the best team in the world. We did not deserve to win the Tri-Nations. If we don't restructure now, we can kiss the World Cup goodbye yet again. South Africa are great at home but that's about it.
Miles (Kiwi), Japan

Looking at the entire series, you have to give it to the men in black. They won all their matches except against Australia by a narrow margin. Wallabies supporters should not be disheartened by losing the Tri-Nations. With the World Cup just around the corner, it eases the pressure just a little bit.

The Springboks showed they are still a force to be reckon with and shaping up nicely but one sense they are a bit predictable. England will have its hands full when it tours the southern hemisphere later this year.
Nick Leong, Malaysia

I think the biggest winners from this Tri-Nations series were the Boks. Despite coming in last place you could see their young side growing in stature with each game. They will definitely be a formidable unit come World Cup time.
Gazza, NZ

South Africa were the most exciting team to watch over the Tri-Nations without a doubt. They have maintained their traditionally large, intimidating forwards and have now the foundations of a pacey and inventive back line. They occasionally look unstructured after three or four phases and can suffer from headless chicken syndrome in broken play but the more Test matches this young side play, the more dangerous they'll become.

New Zealand can be proud of their achievements this year
Nik Lewis, New Zealand

Australia will have to dig deep to continue their uncanny ability to win games at the death. One gets the feeling in close games that when Australia take possession in the final minutes, they will inevitably score.

Ask any Kiwi about this and you will hear cries of a 'burgle' but one only needs to look at the number of times NZ has been a victim of these so-called burglaries to conclude that, whether it's a late three-pointer or a match-winning try, we, the opposition, have allowed it to happen! What are we doing letting teams of that calibre back into matches we should have closed the door earlier in the game. The simple answer is we haven't been good enough to be far enough in front in the final five minutes.

Are we the deserving Tri-Nations champions? Who cares! We were the best of the three this season but it means nothing unless we can take our losses and build on them - not under them.
Steve, NZ

The All Blacks deserved to win the Tri-Nations! This year's tournament has shown great depth in all three sides. I'm looking forward to an exciting World Cup. All Blacks number one!
Koos van Duijl, The Netherlands

The All Blacks thoroughly deserved to win the Tri-Nations. Every player gave his best. A relatively young, tough and fast improving side!! Well done!!
Ganesha, Singapore

New Zealand can be proud of their achievements this year, with solid defence becoming the foundation for their Tri-Nations win. Solidity in the tight five engine room seems to have re-sharpened the All Black's resilience and will to win, but they still need to put teams away without mercy when in a position to do so. Crusaders in All Black jerseys? Maybe, but not long ago an era of All Black dominance was largely due to the number of Aucklanders in the squad.

But make no mistake, this Tri-Nations was a lot closer than the final table would indicate. A penalty here and an allowed try there would have sat the whole thing on its head.

Is anyone willing to write off South Africa as a world force at this stage?
Nik Lewis, New Zealand

Australia are still the best team in the world, and will be so until someone else manages to take the World Cup away from them. They are a class side, but some of the younger players have shown an uncharacteristic lack of composure when presented with the some of the more 'technical' parts of the game (ok - rough stuff).

Let's face it - there will always be 'technical' parts to this game. Matt Rogers's rugby internship (re-internship?) is rivalling the progress of Andrew Walker, and Sailor may have to up the pressure. Has the day of the big winger passed? Jonah doesn't think so - and good on him, but it just goes to show that the one player does not the team maketh. Media hype?

And is anyone willing to write off South Africa as a world force at this stage? I for one am not. A long overdue cull, and injection of youth has unsurprisingly bought problems this year for SA, but the attacking potential must have SA fans excited by what is to come. Sure, only one win, but the losses were heart-breakingly close.

NZ had the same teething problems a few years ago and seem to be only now on the road to recovery, and while Aussie refute it - the absence of John Eales will surely affect at least some of their international results.
Nik Lewis, New Zealand

The All Blacks without doubt are a great team and worthy winners. But - also the Wallabies and Springboks are great. The main difference this season, I suppose, is that the NZ players were a little bit better in any game, even in Sydney when they slipped in the dying seconds.

In any case I am happy about the Springboks performance, even though they lost all previous three games; they play attractive rugby and were rewarded with great win in the end. Good luck to them and good luck also for New Zealand and Australia next year and in the World Cup.
Nils, Latvia

NZ were certainly worthy winners of this year's Tri-Nations, proving that they are the team to beat at the moment. South Africa have a young team that is very exciting to watch, especially with the tremendous speed of their backs, and in the next Tri-Nations they will certainly be a very formidable team.

Australia are not the team they once were. They are certainly capable of playing great rugby at times, but their era as the best team in the world is over. They have been forced to deal with younger, more exciting teams like NZ and SA, and have proved that they are not up to scratch. Their wins this Tri-Nations series were unconvincing, and they were lucky not to finish in last place.
James Vale, Belgium (Springbok Fan)

It was good to see the South Africans finally pull one out of the hat
Jarrod Campbell, USA (NZ ex pat)

Well done to all teams for some fabulous matches. I'm particularly pleased for SA who played with such heart. However, despite the loss I am still confident that this Aussie team will win the World Cup. Their back line plays are significantly more complex than either of the other two southern hemisphere teams and when they start to come off the score board will show.

As for NZ, despite winning I think they have the least amount of quality of the Tri-Nations.
Jarrod, UK (Aus ex-pat)

The All Blacks were probably the best among the three and their defence was the main reason for that. But the most exciting of the three were the Springboks. They certainly have developed their game to match the big two. The next Tri-Nation is yours-Boks.
Srijan, Nepal

The Kiwis dominated throughout the Tri-Nations with exceptional defence, and great ball handling. It was good to see the South Africans finally pull one out of the hat too.
Jarrod Campbell, USA (NZ ex pat)

New Zealand deserve the title for great play and consistency throughout the Tri-Nations. Judging by the last match between the Wallabies and Springboks though, I'd say this Springbok team has the makings of something special!
Suraj, USA

South Africa, well done, a marvelous game
Adrian, Australia

Well done to the Springboks - a win borne of incredible determination.

I am very much looking forward to hearing from the horde of Aussies that wrote in, in such numbers when the Bledisloe cup was retained.

So the AB's lack the toughness and skill of the Wallabies? So you couldn't get a winning margin of 26 points? You couldn't get a win and scraped home the last time.

How confident are you now? A creaking team trying to manage their decline. Savour the victories because this was the high mark. The Springboks and ABs are young and improving. Matt Rogers can only do so much for you but can't carry the whole team.
Piers, Washington, DC

New Zealand have a fabulous team, they are certainly worthy victors.

South Africa, well done, a marvelous game - effort and superb ball play one on the day.

Australia, what can I say - great team. However, the coach has to go. His silly conservative ideas have no place in Australian Rugby. Give permission for our boys to run the ball for heavens sake!
Adrian, Australia

New Zealand are worthy winners with the best defence and bit of good-ol' All Black ticka (heart) seeing them thru.
David Groot, New Zealand

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