by Roger Childs

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

Historic for the All Blacks but not the Irish

In an international season that began back in June 2013, the All Blacks became the first team in the professional era to win every test in a calendar year: 14 out of 14.

However, in November 2013, there was nearly a history-making performance by the Irish. Having never beaten the All Blacks in 108 years, Ireland was leading by 5 points with only seconds remaining. But then an amazing try was crafted.

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 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. 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 brother 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 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

However, there was more drama to come. Aaron Cruden lined up the conversion to hopefully give the All Blacks the 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. Overall it took 97 seconds and involved

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

That is what champion teams are made of.

The tide turns — Irish rugby in recent years

Since 2015 Ireland has had five wins over the All Blacks including a 2-1 series triumph in New Zealand last year. The Irish are currently the number one team in the world and must be favoured to win the World Cup later this year.