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Ireland's green giants produced match of the century against All Blacks

By Nigel Carr

The many superlatives that followed Ireland's historic victory over world champions New Zealand were no more than expected, or deserved.

After all, when it's your first win after 111 years and 29 attempts then you know something historic has happened.

Munster's 1978 win over the All Blacks has now been surpassed, with Munster men to the fore in Ireland's weekend triumph. The players from all four provinces were equally intent on paying former Ireland captain Anthony Foley the highest of tributes as his untimely death provided inspiration to the current team.

Ulster will take particular pride that Rory Best captained the side.

The hooker has had his fair share of disappointments in recent years, including snatching defeat from the jaws of victory when losing to the Kiwis by two points in 2013.

When he looks back over an illustrious career, Saturday's historic win will surely rank close to his Six Nations Grand Slam season in 2009.

Despite the busy schedule immediately ahead (with games against Canada, New Zealand again and Australia in successive weeks), I'm sure a little champagne was in order.

Yet one swallow doesn't make an autumn international series and Ireland must aim to build on this unexpected victory. As the British and Irish Lions look to next summer's tour of New Zealand, the Irish players have already staked claim for places in the squad.

But there is a huge amount of rugby to be played before the selection is finalised and a mediocre international season would see many Irish hopefuls lose out.

Likewise, the tremendous interest that such a win generates will also be dissipated if Ireland's New Zealand-born coach can't consolidate and prove this win to be evidence of a resurgence of the game on this island.

Thankfully, Ireland's next game is against a spirited Canadian team before facing the southern hemisphere might of a rematch with the All Blacks closely followed by the Australians.

Then the analysts will have a much better guide as to Ireland's standing in the world game and their prospects against the home nations starting in February.

For now it is still the time to rejoice in the five Irish tries and attacking style that ended the All Blacks' 18-game unbeaten run. Time enough to think about the impending challenges ahead when you're still fully in celebration mode. As for the future, might we play all our home games in Chicago?

  • Nigel Carr is a former Ulster and Ireland rugby star

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