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The rare perfect year

John Griffiths December 27, 2013
South Africa bag a try against Samoa © PA Photos
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Which was the last Tier One nation to complete a perfect calendar year of Test victories? Mick O'Leary, England

New Zealand's 14 from 14 record this year is the first 100% return by a Tier One nation since the game went professional.

Ireland were the only previous major nation of the pro-era to complete an unbeaten calendar year: they won a Grand Slam of the Six Nations, beat Canada and the USA on their summer tour and enjoyed wins against Fiji and South Africa in their autumn internationals in 2009. The only blot on their copybook was a 20-all draw with the Wallabies in their first autumn Test that year.

The last Tier One side to finish the year with an unblemished record was Fran├žois Pienaar's Springboks, in 1995. They were also the only Tier One side (before the All Blacks) to play ten or more Tests in a calendar year and win them all.

South Africa's season began with a friendly against Western Samoa at Ellis Park where they won 60-8. They won all six of their Rugby World Cup tournament matches, including an extra-time victory over the All Blacks in the Final, and then beat Wales 40-11 at Ellis Park in the first Test match of the professional era. Their perfect year ended with wins against Italy and England on their northern tour in November.

South Africa's Perfect Year: 1995

v. Western Samoa - Won 60-8 - Johannesburg (RWC warm-up friendly)

v. Australia - Won 27-18 - Cape Town (RWC Pool Match)

v. Romania - Won 21-8 - Cape Town (RWC Pool Match)

v. Canada - Won 20-0 - Port Elizabeth (RWC Pool Match)

v. Western Samoa - Won 42-14 - Johannesburg (RWC quarter-final)

v. France - Won 19-15 - Durban (RWC semi-final)

v. New Zealand - Won 15-12 - Johannesburg (RWC FINAL)

v. Wales - Won 40-11 - Johannesburg (Friendly)

v. Italy - Won 40-21 - Rome (Northern Tour)

v. England - Won 24-14 - Twickenham (Northern Tour)

John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.
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