June 27 2004

New Zealand win Under 21 World Cup for second time.

Not only did New Zealand win the Under 21 World Cup in 2004 for the second year in a row, they supplied the Player of the Tournament (Jerome Kaino) who with Luke McAlister were two of the three nominees for the IRB Under 21 Player of the Year.

Jerome Kaino - Player of the Tournament.

“New Zealand Rugby in Safe hands after Colts victory.

THE future of New Zealand rugby appears to be in safe hands after a number of Colts showed in their victorious World Cup campaign that they will be major stars in the years to come.

Jerome Kaino, Ben Atiga, Stephen Donald and Luke McAlister all excelled in the 47-19 win against Ireland in the final of the IRB Under-2l World Cup in Glasgow.

All four plus Anthony Koonwaiyou, Glen Horton and John Afoa are expected to go on to become regular fixtures at NPC. Super 12 and in time the All Blacks.

Having smashed South Africa in the semi-finals New Zealnd were always favourites to beat Ireland who perhaps had little left in the tank after playing out of their skins to beat Australia.

The New Zealanders were in full control throughout the 80 minutes and scored six tries to two, racing out to a 25-7 half-time lead which looked unassailable.

The lrish much to their credit, stuck manfully to their task, but were never able to compete with the pace and firepower of their opponents.

Luke McAlister, the North Harbour midfielder who played a few games for the Blues this year and was on the bench for the All Blacks trial, said: “It’s been a great experience in Scotland and we’ve done this for our families and friend back at home, as well as ourselves.

‘We do homework on every team, and watch our opposite numbers pretty closely and Ireland were no exception. Full credit to Ireland — they came out and played with all their hearts. We knew that they wouldn’t lack any passion out there.

“We knew it was going to be tough up front. We looked at that, their No. 8’s pretty good and we tried to take it to them, stop them getting their go-forward so that we could get ours and get the backs going.” Respected BBC commentator and former England international, Nigel Starmer-Smith, was left in awe by the ‘Baby Blacks’.

“I think we saw a replica of what the senior side are doing at the moment, It’s almost incomparable ability isn’t it. Watching McAlister and Atiga in the centre it might as well be Tana Umaga and Ma’a Nonu. You’ve got Kaino at No 8 who’s absolutely world class, you’ve got great architects at halfback.

“I love watching class players win though, and you had a player here today that I’d never seen before this week called Glen Horton at fullback who had that wonderful artistry and balanced running.”

The victory means New Zealand have in recent weeks won the IRB Under-19 World Cup. the IRB World Sevens Series title, the Churchill Cup in both the men’s and women’s games and the All Blacks smashed the reigning world champions twice as well as beating Argentina.

But despite the Colts’ achievement of winning consecutive world titles, some commentators called for perspective to be retained.

Countries such as England and France do not put the same emphasis on the Under-21 tournament as New Zealand and to date, dominance at age group levels has not translated through to the seniors.”

From “Rugby News”, No. 19 2003 pp.3-4.

 New Zealand results.

v England.                Won 42 – 13 Kaino (2), Atiga, Paulo, Wulf tries. McAlister 4 con., 3 pen.

v Russia.                   Won 110 – 3 Somerset (4), Smith (2), Horton (2), Tuu’u (2), Gopperth (2), Donald, Kaino, Haitana, Naoupu tries.  Donald 15 con.

v South Africa.        Won 49 – 27 Kaino  (2), Franks (2), Wulf, Horton, Koonwaiyou tries. McAlister (6), Donald cons.

v South Africa (sf) Won 26 – 11 Donald, Wulf, Franks tries.McAlister con, 3 pen.

v Ireland (final)        Won 47 – 19 Kooonwaiyou (3), Gear, Paulo, Poff tries. McAlister 4 con., 3 pen.

Luke McAlister - leading points scorer.