Gerry Thornley: Beating-the-All-Blacks feeling can never be taken for granted

When they next meet in Auckland, Ireland will be the ones on a gruelling tour schedule

Johnny Sexton celebrates Ireland’s first-ever win over New Zealand’s All Blacks at Soldier Field, Chicago on November 5th, 2016. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Johnny Sexton celebrates Ireland’s first-ever win over New Zealand’s All Blacks at Soldier Field, Chicago on November 5th, 2016. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Watching at pitchside in his role as a Channel 4 analyst last Saturday, Tommy Bowe’s undoubted delight was tinged with a little regret. He’s not alone. Like Bowe, a plethora of Irish rugby legends – Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara, the watching John Hayes and all others in the 111 years before 2016 – never knew what it felt like to beat the All Blacks.

Remarkably, some of those who now do know the feeling are becoming reacquainted with it. Of the 23 players on duty for last Saturday’s 29-20 win, half a dozen have now been part of all three wins against New Zealand, namely Johnny Sexton, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Josh van der Flier, Joey Carbery and Garry Ringrose.

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