The late American professor and writer EB White once observed “prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.”
It will come as no great surprise to learn that the legitimacy of New Zealand's tackling in their 21-9 victory over Ireland at the Aviva stadium on Saturday night was viewed differently, depending on hemisphere. The interpretation was poles apart.
The New Zealand media took a general view that the All Blacks' tackling was of a spirited nature, one or two mistimed but more than adequately punished by the referee Jaco Peyper, who most chose to point out was one of the best referees in the world.
That assertion doesn't translate between the hemispheres. Hamish Bidwell writing on the stuff.co.nz website, is obviously unafflicted by doubt when it comes to interpreting New Zealand matches. He harrumphed: "Normal service has resumed, then.
“The All Blacks have won and few people beyond New Zealand’s shores like them because they cheat and whinge and are just too bloody good. You can dice it up any way you like, but New Zealand 21 Ireland 9 was pretty decisive.
“Ireland are a decent side, but hardly a great one. They deserved to beat the All Blacks in Chicago but this Dublin performance wasn’t a good one.”
On the issue of the tackling he ventured: “International sport is not about moral victories or fair play awards. The All Blacks had to win and they did. The end.”
In fairness most of the New Zealand media took a less strident view and weren’t reluctant to criticise Steve Hansen’s side, individually and collectively, while giving Ireland credit for their contribution to a hard fought Test match.
New Zealand Herald sports columnist Chris Rattue wrote: "Hansen might have an even bigger call to make soon, with his just-appointed captain Kieran Read going backwards at a disturbing rate.
“The legendary No. 8 Read was extremely ordinary against Ireland in Dublin, where the home side should have won on the back of a stupendous display from their pack.
“It was a wonderful Test, full of the requisite drama, and the gnawing tension that a close scoreboard provides. The last three Tests against Ireland will live long in the memory. They represent Test rugby at its finest, with the 2013 game untouchable because of that amazing finish.”
Rattue described the All Black pack as "weak" and the captain Read, as "uninspiring" before adding: "But the repeated charges from the scarcely believable Seán O'Brien aided by Jamie Heaslip, CJ Stander and Josh van der Flier served to emphasise that Read is tiring.
“Heaslip trampled right over his fellow veteran Read on one occasion. The All Blacks won’t keep escaping situations like this. The Irish forwards should be furious at the incompetence of their backline. Ireland’s forwards had the All Blacks on the ropes, but their backs couldn’t land any blows.”
Gregor Paul, writing in the same newspaper, was also slightly downbeat. "The mini series with Ireland was drawn and yet it didn't feel like it. It felt like Ireland came out as the winners, the more physical and accurate and certainly the more disciplined over the 160 minutes.
“In the basic elements of winning the ball and keeping the ball, they were better than the All Blacks in both Tests. They attacked more because they had the ball more and while they maybe don’t have quite the same individual offloading skills as the All Blacks, they had better collective cohesion and unity.”
Former All Blacks scrumhalf Justin Marshall was critical of Ireland's fundamental failure to score tries. "Ireland probably had 20 to 25 opportunities to score points in that match and the All Blacks had a mere handful. Yet one side scored three tries and the other none.
“Great teams learn how to win even when they’re not having a good day. They still get the job done and that’s exactly what New Zealand did.”
He also defended South African referee Jaco Peyper. “I know there’s been a bit of complaining about the All Blacks’ tactics, including their tackling, and also of Jaco Peyper’s refereeing. But I don’t think the Irish were hard done by, or that the South African had a poor game with the whistle.
“Yes, there were discipline problems from the All Blacks that do worry me and, yes, the penalty count was very high against New Zealand. That’s perhaps not surprising given the All Blacks were doing the bulk of defending and struggling to get their hands on the ball.”
Naturally there was less interest in the game in Australia and South Africa given that the Wallabies and Springboks were in action. One brief reference was the headline in the Sydney Morning Herald "All Blacks take revenge with 21-9 Dublin win", while the Times live website in South Africa made no mention of the match amongst its headlines, understandably the coverage focusing on the traumatic loss by the Springboks in Italy but there was one Irish headline.
It read: "Irish look to US to help them land World Cup", an article about the IRFU's bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. South Africa is also in the final three alongside France.