All credit must go to the All Blacks — a lesser team would have wilted under pressure. –Former Irish winger, Denis Hickie

A fascinating history

By Roger Childs

Tomorrow, Sunday morning the All Blacks will play Ireland in possibly their toughest test of the season. Since 1905 the two countries have played 32 times but it took until 2016 for the Irish to register their first win. It was a decisive victory in a one-off match in Chicago 40-29. 

However, the first victory might have happened in Dublin on 24 November 2013. Ireland was leading by 5 points with only seconds remaining. But then one of the most amazing tries in the history of the game was crafted form deep inside the All Blacks half.

Here’s how it might have been called…

The All Blacks have a penalty well inside their own half with just 18 seconds to go. Aaron Smith passes to Ben Smith who takes the tackle. Smith to Cruden and on to Keiran Read and another ruck is formed. Smith to Cruden to Barrett and yet another ruck. They are now in the Irish half, but not a lot of progress is being made. Time is up on the clock, so the dream of an unbeaten test run in 2013 is surely gone as the All Blacks trail by 5 points. The Irish will get their first ever test win over New Zealand…

There is no way the All Blacks will kick, so it’s a question of keeping the ball in hand and cleaning out the rucks…

This is the 9th ruck and Smith clears once again out to Cruden, and on to Savea, who passes to Messam, who takes the tackle. The Franks brothers again clean out the ruck and Smith passes to Nonu who makes ground inside the Irish 22. Smith clears quickly again out to Cruden, who puts the ball on to Coles, missing out Nonu. The replacement hooker unloads to the flying Ryan Crotty, who touches down wide out! The All Blacks have drawn level with a miracle try and a successful conversion would give them an unlikely win.

A dramatic conversion

There was more drama to come. Aaron Cruden lined up the conversion to hopefully give the All Blacks an unlikely victory, when the Irish charged too early. The kick missed, but under the rules he was given a second attempt. No mistake this time and the team was out of jail and into the history books.

It took a fantastic try to win the game and get the record. It took 97 seconds and involved

  • 24 passes
  • 11 rucks
  • 13 players handling the ball
  • 6 clean outs by the Franks brothers.

That is what champion teams are made of.