Kangaroos top the greatest World Cup teams

James Tedesco should take it as the ultimate compliment.

Like the German soccer team getting jeered at Wembley or the All Blacks having their haka drowned out at Twickenham, the constant jeering of his side at the World Cup final told of only one thing.

That is, his Kangaroos really are something special.

The great sides in sport annals have always inspired an odd mixture of awe and loathing in their British watchers. They love to hate them, but can't help but secretly be in thrall to them.

And that's how it was at Old Trafford as the swaggering, swarming gold-on-green chevrons used the Theatre of Dreams to kill little Samoa's own fantasy, provoking the ABA - "Anyone but Australia" - brigade to full-throated antipathy.

But like sport's great champions, the Kangaroos enjoyed being the ultimate party-pooping killjoys, Tedesco even admitting he'd savoured the constant booing.

And after stomping on a dream, all that was left was the feeling that Mal Meninga's side had just provided a warming reminder of the Kangaroos' enduring aura, in case we'd forgotten after the last sighting of them in the pre-COVID era had been a humbling by Tonga.

It prompted Meninga, himself a symbol of Kangaroos' glory as a former World Cup-winning captain and now a two-time winning coach, to reflect on where they actually sit in the pantheon of the greatest sports teams.

You could make an argument they're right at the top.

Meninga reflected on his pride at the Kangaroos having enjoyed a 90 per cent win record for a long period. That's certainly true over the last 40 years - 90.7 to be precise.

But even since they started the 1975 World Cup, the beginning of their incredible run of nine wins in the last 10 global tournaments, their win rate is still a staggering 86.24 per cent in all matches played - 186 wins, four draws and just 28 defeats over 47 years.

And they save their best for the biggest stage, with an 85.71 per cent match win rate at World Cups and 12 triumphs in 16 editions.

So, they have won 75% of all World Cups - and you can look across all team sports and not see a success rate in global competitions by any outfit anywhere near as high.

Yes, the US have dominated Olympic basketball, particularly since the onset of the 'Dream Team' era, but when you add World Cups, the 80 per cent success rate drops to just over 55 per cent.

The Kangaroos' secret? "The expectation is we win tournaments - so it's not a burden to us, we carry that with great humility and respect," said Meninga. "We understand what wearing the green and gold means."


Rugby League: Australia (12 wins in 16 World Cups) - win rate 75%

Basketball: USA (21 wins in 38 Olympics/World Cups) 55.2%

Cricket: Australia (5 wins in 12 50-over World Cups) - 41.7%

Ice Hockey: Canada (9 wins out of 25 Olympics) - 36%

Rugby Union: New Zealand: (3 wins in 9 World Cups) - 33.3%

Gymnastics: China (13 wins in 41 world championships) - 31.7%

Hockey: Pakistan (4 wins in 14 World Cups) - 28.6%

Soccer: Brazil (5 wins in 21 World Cups) - 23.81%

And the women's powerhouse teams ...

Rugby Union: New Zealand (6 wins in 9 World Cups) - 66.66%

Netball: Australia (11 wins in 17 World Cups) - 64.71%

Rugby League: New Zealand (3 wins in 5 World Cups) - 60%

Soccer: USA (4 wins in 8 World Cups) - 50%