“Personally I would not pick one player who played in that 60-0 drubbing in 2012. They’re scarred for life, with no cure. The inferiority complex that Irish players have towards the All Blacks is a virus that spreads from senior players down to younger players; the only way to stop it spreading is to prevent contaminated players from playing.” Anonymous Irish rugby fan (Oct. 2013)
Harsh, perhaps, but such is the emotional destruction that black jerseys have wrought on men in green over the years.
Ireland have played New Zealand 27 times since 1905 with a single, solitary draw to show for their toil. Ireland’s points difference in that 108-year stretch is a nice round -500, or -18.5 per game. (Ireland v New Zealand, Sunday, 14.00, RTE and BBC2)
It doesn’t get much better when one looks at the two teams’ form this calendar year.
- Ireland have won just four of nine tests (one draw) with New Zealand a perfect 13 wins from 13 while scoring twice as many tries per game (3.7) as the Irish (1.8).
Even the absence of Dan Carter doesn’t really carry much solace for Ireland; of those 13 test wins this year Carter and Richie McCaw not only played just six and seven games respectively but were on the field together for a mere four of them.
If looking for green threads of hope onto which to grasp, in recent years Ireland’s defence had been consistently good at home.
- From November 2003 to November 1 2013 Ireland had the second best defensive home record in world rugby, conceding just 17 points per game.
And then came along the Australians who scored four tries and 32 points in a fairly one-sided victory. The last team to score more than 32 points against Ireland in Dublin was New Zealand in 2010, scoring 38 points and winning by an identical 20 point spread to Sunday’s contest. Before that? Autumn 2005 when Ireland conceded 45 to… New Zealand.
There are two somewhat contrasting points of view one could hold for this match.
- Ireland’s defence against Australia was poor and there has been a general inaccuracy shown in their two Autumn tests so far.
- It’s only five tests ago that Ireland lost to Italy.
- New Zealand are going for a perfect winning calendar year and are the most efficient team in rugby at turning opportunities into points.
- The atmosphere in the crowd will be one of those terrible early-Sunday-kickoff affairs where it’s too early both for a hangover to have properly subsided and to have had a few restorative beverages.
- The Aviva Stadium’s sound system will blast the crowd both before and during the match into quiet submission.
- New Zealand haven’t been behind at half time or full time since December 1, 2012.
If that mirrors your own thoughts on the subject then here’s a few bets to consider:
- New Zealand to cover the 20 point spread = 10/11
- NZ to win by 21-30 points = 11/4
- NZ to win by 31-40 points = 7/2
- NZ to win by 41-45 points = 13/1
- NZ will take Ireland for granted, just an irritating speedbump on the road back to their clubs after a long Rugby Championship and Autumn Series.
- Ireland could never possibly play that badly two weeks in a row.
- The Irish players, led by Paul O’Connell, will take on the Haka with some construction of their own that will get both the team and the crowd geared up into a furious, wonderful frenzy.
- The Aviva Stadium’s PA system will be mysteriously out of action on the day, leaving the crowd to their own devices with the only public announcements being scores and substitutions announced via a loudhailer.
- The stadium’s atmosphere will be a return to the old days; a heaving, Old Testament bearpit of a place where angels would fear to tread.
- This is Brian O’Driscoll’s last chance to take an All Blacks win and the team will be whipped into a supercharged state.
- Referee Nigel Owens has a particularly good Irish breakfast served to him in his hotel. An all-time great breakfast; a symphony of finest pork, eggs and toast done so perfectly that the Welshman cannot bear to think of any further hurt done to such a fine people.
If this second point of view is more your style then some bets to consider might be:
- Ireland to come within 20 at 10/11
- NZ to win by 1-5 points at 17/2
- NZ to win by 6-10 points at 13/2
- Ireland to win by 1-5 = 14/1