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No cigar: 7 times Ireland got within a mile of beating the All Blacks

Apart from these, New Zealand has been the land of the long, heavy defeat for Ireland.

Wonder would they be so welcoming if we beat them once in a while?
Wonder would they be so welcoming if we beat them once in a while?
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

ON SUNDAY, IT will one day shy of 98 years since Ireland’s first Test rugby encounter with New Zealand.

That 15 – 0 All Blacks win pretty much set the tone for the relationship between the sides throughout the years.

Ireland, respected spoilers. New Zealand, the side who just need to not shoot themselves in the foot to get over the line.

19 years after that first meeting, Ireland would again finish without a single point in Lansdowne Road, but we were getting closer. Never quite close enough to turn a string of Ls into a W, but within a score or two that could give an underdog a glimmer of hope when the World Champions come calling again.

December 7, 1935: New Zealand 17 Ireland 9

At the third time of asking, Ireland did manage to put some points on the board after the Haka. Charles Beamish with the try while Brushy Mitchell was one of three try-scorers at the other end. Fullback Mike Gilbert added a conversion and two penalties

June 7 2008: New Zealand 21 Ireland 11

Michael Bradley took charge of the Ireland team in between the tenures of Eddie O’Sullivan and Declan Kidney and the players put in a hint of the glory year to come.

image©INPHO/Billy Stickland

8 -8 at half-time thanks to a Paddy Wallace try and Ronan O’Gara nudged it to 8 -11 shortly after the break, the visitors were finally undone with Ma’a Nonu’s try 16 minutes from time. Seven days later, the hosts held us to just three points.

November 4 1978: New Zealand 10 Ireland 6

Five days after Munster’s momentous 12 – 0 win over the tourists in Thomond Park, hooker Andy Dalton made the difference on the international stage with a try to edge the All Blacks over Ireland who had two Tony Ward penalties to shout about.

May 30 1992: New Zealand 24 Ireland 21

Two tries from Vince Cunningham and one from fullback Jim Staples helped Ireland record one of their highest ever scores against New Zealand (our highest tally came in a 29 -40 defeat in 2001).


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The dethroned World Champions replied with four; two from centre Frank Bunce.

June 16 2012: New Zealand 22 Ireland 19

Ah, last summer. A time of such hope and optimism. Sure, we had been trounced a week before, but down in freezing Christchurch Ireland dug deep and even took a commanding 9 – 10 into half time.

YouTube credit: Rugsta15

Even when Aaron Smith grounded a score after half time, Ireland continued to cling on and Jonathan Sexton’s 68th minute penalty levelled the match. That was the signal for New Zealand to get down to basics and set up Dan Carter for a (couple of) drop-goal attempt(s).

December 7 1963: New Zealand 6 Ireland 5

Another narrow defeat, this winter classic in Lansdowne Road decided by the kicking of fullback Don Clarke after John Fortune had claimed Ireland’s only score.

January 20 1973: Ireland 10 New Zealand 10

Winger Tom Grace added a try to two Barry McGann penalties and Ireland claimed parity with the most iconic side in rugby for the one and only time. New Zealand’s scrum-half Sid Going claimed a try along with Alex Wylie.

Good times.

So, do you think we’ll put in a performance to add to this list on Sunday? Or could we possible even win?

I’m not stepping into Dan Carter’s shoes, I wear my own — Aaron Cruden

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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