Historically, the Irish have never performed well against the All Blacks, either home or away. In fact, the Irish lost a staggering 27 of their first 28 meetings, with the other encounter ending in a 10-10 draw at Lansdowne Road in 1973.
Interestingly, Ireland’s first win against New Zealand didn’t occur until November 5th 2016, when they defeated the All Blacks 40-29 in Chicago.
Since then, however, Ireland have won five of their last eight encounters with the world’s most famous and feared side, with this impressive run of form culminating in a superb series of displays during the country’s winter tour of New Zealand last year.
Actually, Ireland made history during their test series against New Zealand. Playing three tests against New Zealand and winning two matches against the All Blacks, Ireland became the fifth touring side to celebrate a series win in New Zealand – the first to achieve this feat since France in 1994.
The other four teams that have previously held this accolade are South Africa (1937), Australia (1949 and again in 1986), and the British & Irish Lions (1971), highlighting the rare and exalted company that this Irish side now shares.
A series of stunning victories – How the tour infolded
This test series marked Ireland’s first tour to New Zealand in 10 years and the team certainly did not disappoint, with the Irish side securing three comfortable wins during two and a half weeks.
Ireland’s first test against New Zealand saw the team lose in a 42-19 defeat at Eden Park, Auckland, but the best was yet to come. The Irish side claimed victory in the second test, scoring a winning 23-12 at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin. In the third and final test against New Zealand, Ireland secured a second win with a 32-22 success at Sky Stadium, Wellington.
The decisive match in Wellington provided a fitting end to a thrilling and keenly-contested series, as the Andy Farrell’s well-drilled side romped into 19-point lead at the break. This was thanks to a superb display of poise and precision, during which Josh Van Der Flier, Hugo Keenan and Robbie Henshaw all crossed the line for tries.
However, the indefatigable All Blacks roared black in the second half, producing a breathless performance that delivered scores from Ardie Savea, Akira Ioane and Will Jordan.
This bought the All Blacks withing three points of their fearless rivals, before a further try by Rob Herring saw the Irish home.
The Irish side was defeated in their first match against the All Blacks, with a 32-17 loss at FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton. However, the team came back triumphant in their second fixture and claimed a 30-24 win at Sky Stadium, furthering an outstanding run of form and level of performance that augurs well for the Irish ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
And a series of firsts – Breaking Down Ireland’s Achievements
In addition to being the first team to celebrate a series win in New Zealand for almost 30 years, the 2022 test matches also made history – and dominated the headlines according to Rugby365.com – for the Irish team.
For example, the second test marked Ireland’s first ever away win in New Zealand – an accomplishment the green team failed to make for over four decades, since the Irish side first played New Zealand in 1976.
Then, just three days later on 12 July, Ireland won their second match against the All Blacks. This was Ireland’s first victory over the All Blacks away from home, making this fixture another one for the history books.
Finally, four days later on 16 July, Ireland cemented their place in the rugby hall of fame when they triumphed over New Zealand in their third test. By doing so, the Irish side secured two impressive firsts: winning back-to-back matches against New Zealand and rising to number one in the World Rugby Rankings for the first time in three years.
The latter achievement couldn’t have been better timed, particularly with the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France now less than 18 months away.
For New Zealand, however, their defeats also marked two momentous shifts: the first time New Zealand were defeated in a home test series since 1994 and the first time New Zealand lost back-to-back home tests.
This will raise concerns ahead of the next RWC, with the All Blacks considered to be one of the favourites and hotly tipped to win their fourth world crown.
The Last Word – Can Ireland Win the World Cup in 2023?
With the autumn and winter tour of 2022 now behind us, many thoughts have switched to the 2023 Six Nations Championship and the 10th iteration of the Rugby World Cup.
In terms of the latter, Ireland remains joint third-favourites with Eddie Jones’ England side to win the Webb-Ellis trophy, despite the immense performance of Andy Farrell’s men in New Zealand and the fact that the Three Lions are in the midst of a significant transition period.
Despite the events of the autumn, New Zealand have remained the second favourites to win a fourth World Cup in France, with many pointing to the depth of their immensely talented squad and the level of experience that exists within.
Of course, we should remember that the All Blacks have also injected some fresh blood into the playing squad of late, while the sheer aura of New Zealand and their pedigree on the international stage means that they’ll definitely be one of the sides to beat.
Unsurprisingly, 2022 Six Nations winners and 2023 RWC hosts France are the clear favourites to claim their first world crown next year. After all, the squad is arguably peaking and remains packed full of talent, while legendary scrum half Antoine Dupont is potentially unrivalled as the best player in the world.
While a World Cup win in 2023 may ultimately prove to be beyond Ireland, the side is well-placed to mount a much more aggressive assault on the Six Nations next spring.
Remember, the Irish are always competitive against France and their domestic rivals, while they’re arguably the best and most experienced competing side outside of the increasingly dominant Les Blues.
Winning the Six Nations would also set the nation up superbly ahead of the World Cup, while helping to whet the appetite of fans ahead of a truly global sporting event!