Billy Stickland/INPHO Tadhg Beirne celebrates with Johnny Sexton.
big game player
Tadhg Beirne went to a phenomenal place to help Ireland seal the series
The Munster man delivered some massive moments in the endgame.

LET’S JUST REMIND ourselves of Tadhg Beirne’s career trajectory.

The latest point on his journey was playing out of his skin for Ireland as they beat the All Blacks to secure a series success in New Zealand for the first time ever.

Beirne was a phenomenon in Wellington.

But back in 2015, he was delivering pizzas alongside training with the Leinster academy. Having been bedeviled by injuries, he was told there was no senior contract for him. Beirne had to knock on Leo Cullen’s door and ask for another chance.

He got a one-year deal but Leinster let him go for good in the summer of 2016. Beirne strongly considered quitting rugby at that point. So Lansdowne coach Mike Ruddock got on the phone and told the Scarlets they needed to sign this slightly unorthodox but potentially brilliant forward.

There were more injuries in Wales and Beirne even found himself playing for semi-pro side Llandovery RFC at one stage in 2016. But he fought into Scarlets’ starting XV and helped them to the Pro14 title. Once again, his grit was evident.

peter-omahony-and-tadhg-beirne-celebrate-after-the-game Billy Stickland / INPHO Tadhg Beirne with Peter O'Mahony. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

That earned him a move to Munster and his Ireland debut followed in Australia in 2018. He soon ticked off a first Ireland start and first Six Nations start but couldn’t force his way into Ireland’s first-choice side for the 2019 World Cup.

That status as a Test starter only arrived for Beirne as recently as last year. He became a Lion last summer and won two Test caps in South Africa. There were frustrations for him on that tour but Beirne has only continued to improve.

He came into series against New Zealand desperately short of rugby after suffering a thigh injury in the Six Nations. The first Test was a quiet one for Beirne by his standards but he improved last weekend and then his third Test performance today was sublime.

The 30-year-old produced big play after big play for Ireland, particularly as they clung to their lead in the final quarter.

Beirne was a thorn in the Kiwis’ side from early on, producing this crucial lineout steal in the eighth minute to deny them a chance to strike back after Ireland’s early maul try, which Beirne had been part of.


Beirne, the superb James Ryan, and the Irish pack generally dominated the Kiwi forwards in the third Test.

Two maul tries against the All Blacks in one game doesn’t happen very often, while the Irish pack put huge pressure on New Zealand’s throw, with Ryan also producing a first-half lineout steal.

Beirne wasn’t especially prominent as a ball-carrier for Ireland but he certainly contributed to their excellent attacking performance.

Watch Beirne’s crucial clearout on Brodie Retallick at the breakdown directly before Robbie Henshaw’s try.


This kind of effort from Beirne is pivotal to any attack functioning, as he clears away a major turnover threat to allow Ireland to strike on the very next phase.

The Kiwis got a lucky bounce early in the second half when Beirne very nearly produced a big turnover for Ireland.

As we see below, he strips Ofa Tu’ungafasi in the tackle…


… but the ball bounces kindly for Beauden Barrett to accelerate into space and the Kiwis eventually score from the brilliant Ardie Savea.

Undeterred, Beirne continued to look for turnover chances.

With the All Blacks grabbing major momentum, this was an expertly timed intercept.


After New Zealand closed the scoreline to 25-17, we then saw Beirne deliver his first trademark breakdown turnover.

Akira Ioane is isolated as he goes to carry and Beirne senses his opportunity.


Beirne allows Caelan Doris to complete the tackle, shows that he has a clear release himself, then pounces over the ball.

There’s a despairing clearout attempt from Codie Taylor as Beirne holds firm in position to win Ireland a crucial penalty. Johnny Sexton has a long-range kick at goal but watches it come back off the crossbar.

A minute later, Will Jordan has scored down the other end and the All Blacks are within three points with 20 minutes left to play.

Beirne and the Irish pack have the perfect answer as they deliver another maul try, Rob Herring producing an excellent finish as he darts off a strong platform.

Still, Ireland have to defend their 10-point lead ferociously and Beirne comes to the fore.


The turnover above comes in the Irish 22 in the 71st minute as Beirne jackals again, drawing a neck roll from Sam Whitelock in the Kiwi lock’s desperation to clear him away.

It’s a huge moment from Beirne.

Still the Kiwis come and still, Beirne delivers the good.

Watch his sheer work-rate below in the 73rd minute, sprinting across the pitch…


… to leave himself in position for a massive turnover again.


It’s a clean steal for Beirne here as he assists in the tackle and then almost instantaneously snaps into the jackal position over the ball, just about showing enough clear release for referee Wayne Barnes. Ireland clear their lines again. 

And still, there is more from the Kiwi onslaught.

In the 76th minute, Beirne comes close to another breakdown steal…


This time, he is cleared away.

So Beirne gets back to his feet, assesses the situation, identities Dane Coles as vulnerable, and absolutely opens him up with a counter-rucking effort.


Scrum-half Folau Fakatava loses the ball as Beirne drives Coles back into him and Ireland pounce to complete the turnover.

Ireland kick clear again and that’s it for Beirne.


He exits the stage having delivered some phenomenal work to help Ireland seal their series success.

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