"All Blacks Clean Sweep" - 2014 Revisited: A Look Back on England's Last Tour of New Zealand - Ruck

“All Blacks Clean Sweep” – 2014 Revisited: A Look Back on England’s Last Tour of New Zealand

England begin their two-match tour of New Zealand this Saturday, with the first fixture taking place in Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium. The home of Super Rugby side the Highlanders, Steve Borthwick’s men will begin their campaign on the South Island, before jetting back up to Auckland for the Summer ending Test in Eden Park.

These two matches against the All Blacks could well be one of the the last traditional ‘tours’ for the foreseeable future, with the plans for a World League set to replace the Summer tours in the coming years. The last time England went on tour in the land of the All Blacks was in 2014, as Stuart Lancasters men endured an arduous campaign against the reigning world champions.

The aura around the All Blacks was at an all time high in 2014, as the men in black were seemingly unbeatable after claiming the Web Ellis trophy on home soil in 2011. Steve Hansen would go on to take the side to back to back Rugby World Cup titles in 2015, with the finale marking the end of the Test match careers for an assortment of icons.

However, before the likes of Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Ma’a Nonu ended their international careers, they took on England across a three match series. Here is a look back upon the fixtures of England’s 2014 Summer Tour of New Zealand.

First Test: New Zealand 20-15 England

June 7th 2014, Eden Park, Auckland

The opening match of the 2014 Summer Tour (without counting the unofficial Twickenham defeat to the Barbarians), England and New Zealand treated the Auckland faithful to a tactical sparring match to kick start the campaign. Stuart Lancaster appointed Leicester Tigers’ newest signing Freddie Burns to the starting fly half spot, with the halfback striking home England’s first points of the tour from the tee.

Burns took just two minutes to get England on the board, before Aaron Cruden returned fire with a well taken penalty of his own seven minutes later. The kicking contest would continue as the only way to break the gridlock, with both defences holding firm for the majority of the contest. Burns and Cruden traded three-pointers for the afternoon, before the All Blacks managed to find a dent in the defensive structure. Centre Conrad Smith powered his way over for the fixture’s only try, with Cruden’s missed conversion ensuring the five point difference remained until full-time.

Second Test: New Zealand 28-27 England

June 14th 2014, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Another close encounter which saw England and the All Blacks trade hammer blows, the second Test saw the tourists take a hot start out of the gate. Former Wasps wing Marland Yarde was over to score after just seven minutes, as England gained an early foothold in the must-win match. After England worked the ball in-field from a rolling maul, Yarde exploaded onto the pass of Danny Care, and skipped passed Aaron Cruden’s tackle attempt to muscle his way to the try-line.

The place kicking prowess would remerge, with Owen Farrell taking the lead this time of asking. The Saracen went tee-to-tee with Cruden, with the halfbacks each nailing their respective shots at the uprights before the break. The second half had plenty of try scoring, as the All Blacks added to their account through Ben Smith, Julian Savea and Ma’a Nonu. A late comeback was too little too late for England, as despite the efforts of Mike Brown and Chris Ashton’s late tries, the lead was too established for Farrell to overtake from the boot.