The 24 – 21 loss handed to the All Blacks by the British and Irish Lions squared the three match series, but it was a loss made more dubious for the fact that no rugby side in the world has beaten the All Blacks since a 32 – 29 loss to South Africa’s Springboks back in 2009.
Just two months lacking eight years entire, the All Blacks had a streak of 47 victories, an agonising three short of the nice round number of 50.
It is hard for Kiwi heads to hang too low, however, as the All Blacks have been formidable in test play beyond the friendly confines of Wellington and Westpac Stadium. They have played 55 Tests as tourists, winning 46 of those, so one home loss, rare and unsettling as it may seem, does not objectively threaten the dynasty.
The Saturday night loss to the Lions is the first time that side has beaten the All Blacks since 1993. Some of the current side may not even have been born since that loss took place. It was only the third time that any visitor has beaten the All Blacks at Westpac Stadium. It was 14 years ago, in 2003, against England.
The three-point loss might have turned out very differently, had not the All Blacks been compelled to play short a man. Sonny Bill Williams was red-carded in the first half, something that has not happened in 50 years. It was not the sort of call the All Blacks needed, but objectively, it was not a judgement call, either. Williams’ shoulder connected with the head of Anthony Watson, the sort of thing you would expect to see in an NRL game perhaps, but not in Test.
Now, it is off to Auckland for the decider.
With history on their side, the All Blacks should have no real problems with the British and Irish Lions, provided they keep their side up.