Wales boss Pivac takes heart from 'Buster' Douglas as All Blacks loom

Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Wayne Pivac cited James "Buster" Douglas's shock defeat of world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson as proof anything is possible as Wales target their first win over New Zealand in 68 years.


The Six Nations champions are bidding to end a painful run of 31 successive defeats against the All Blacks in Cardiff on Saturday.

Pivac's side are without a raft of first-choice players due to injury and the fact that several of their stars have not been released by their English clubs as the match falls outside the designated window for Test matches.

But Pivac, himself a New Zealander, said upsets were part of the fabric of sport as he pointed to rank outsider Douglas's victory over the previously unbeaten Tyson in 1990.

"From our point of view, history is history," Pivac said after announcing his team on Thursday.

"We see it in sport all the time. I could rattle off upsets here -- James 'Buster' Douglas and Mike Tyson. Every now and then, you get a massive upset."

"We're not looking at it like that. We're going to enjoy the occasion because it's every Welsh boy's dream to play against New Zealand in front of 75,000," added Pivac.

It will be Wales's first match in front of a capacity crowd since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dan Biggar, Louis Rees-Zammit and No. 8 Taulupe Faletau are among seven England-based internationals who are missing the showpiece fixture as they have not been released by their clubs. Combined with injuries, Wales will be deprived of 16 players in total.

Former Wales international Shane Williams, in his Rugby Paper column, accused the Welsh Rugby Union of treating Tests as a "cash cow".

"In so doing the WRU actively work against the viability of the four (Welsh) regions, who are regularly shorn of their best players and who haven't been able to perform to their best ability in their domestic league or Europe," Williams said.

Nevertheless, Pivac, a former Scarlets coach who has been in Wales for seven years, said the WRU could not turn down the estimated £4 million ($5.5 million) it will make from the game.

"I think sometimes in rugby, you have to look at it and say the game is bigger than just one particular match," said Pivac.

"It's about looking after the game in general. Looking at the finances in this country, without this fixture, we'd be in big trouble. In terms of the rugby, it's a massive challenge. We love a challenge."

Pivac, looking to learn more about Wales' squad depth ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France, added: "It's a great fixture and we want to go out and prove people wrong."