Ireland’s horrible history to continue against the All Blacks
From the blindside: Alan Quinlan column
Some day an Irish team will beat them. And when they do it once, I don’t think it will take a huge amount of time before they do it again. There’s a big psychological hurdle to jump there and whatever Ireland team manages to do it will then have that in their locker every time they meet them.
But they have to do it first. And the one thing we can be sure of is the All Blacks won’t give it to them on a plate. That’s what will make it so satisfying when it happens.
2002 Tour: A long way down
The tour in 2002 was tough from the start. Actually, even from before the start because the Munster players went into it on the back of losing the Heineken Cup final. The journey there was about as long a one as you could take. Dublin to London. London to Singapore. Singapore to Auckland. Auckland to Christchurch. And finally a three-hour bus journey from Christchurch to the fairly remote town of Timaru.
We played a divisional side a few days later but what stuck with me most was the schools game that was being played on the pitch in Timaru as a curtain-raiser to our game. I remember standing there watching these 18-year-olds who were light years more developed than the 18-year-olds back in Ireland, both in terms of physique and in terms of the standard of their rugby. The intensity of it was miles above anything you would have seen in the schools game back home. I was blown away.
Later on in our game, I got injured after 20 minutes when Gary Longwell fell on me awkwardly and I strained the medial ligaments in my knee. Standing on crutches, full sure that my tour was over, I felt a long way from home that night. If you’re not careful, New Zealand can do that to you. It wasn’t until Woody’s speech in the dressingroom the following week that I got a better sense of how you might go about beating them.