Attitude is everything. At Test match level you can talk about all sorts of game plans but it comes down to 15 players having the right attitude to go out to implement what they have trained all their lives to do. And that was missing in Chicago for the All Blacks.
Going into their review about what went wrong, I think those inside the All Blacks’ environment will put their hands up and admit that, two years ago, going to Chicago and having such a great time in the party atmosphere before taking on the United States and thrashing them, probably had some psychological connection with their performance this time around in the Windy City.
The nominees for the World Rugby Player of the Year are in and, unsurprisingly, the six-man list is dominated by New Zealand and England. Vote for the player most deserving now!
Ireland had so much to play for in front of a lot of Irish immigrants who live in Chicago – it was actually like a home away from home for them. For the fans who came out, it was a huge, huge occasion. I even went out and purchased some Guinness to share in the event.
Hats off to Ireland. Well done, they were clearly the better team on the day. They deserved that win and to get the monkey off their back of never having beaten the All Blacks is such a good thing, now they can go into a game without that doubt.
Kieran Read, the All Blacks skipper, stands at the front of the haka. Phil Walter/Getty Images
We need rugby to be on a level playing field where any team can lose and any team can win, and it just gets rid of that invincibility tag where Ireland have always looked at the All Blacks as being invincible. Now there are players who have beaten the All Blacks and they know they can beat them, and the confidence of knowing that is a really good thing.
It’s can’t be just Australia and South Africa, and occasionally England every 10 years, who can beat the All Blacks. We want everyone to be close enough so that every now and then there is a close battle. What Ireland has achieved is a good thing for world rugby.
TJ Perenara led the haka in Chicago. Phil Walter/Getty Images
I have to say I watched the haka and cringed. Someone didn’t do their homework in the All Blacks camp. Knowing a little bit about the Irish mentality and having had a 64-Test cap veteran and ex-Munster coach Anthony Foley die recently, with all the players wearing black armbands and having a moment’s silence for him before the game, and knowing what that meant to the Irish team and the public, I thought pulling out the Kapa O Pango haka was disrespectful.
I’ve been to funerals and you do the Ka Mate haka to honour a warrior and it is different to doing the battle cry, or war cry, of Kapa O Pango which is a more aggressive challenge.
I thought, ‘you guys haven’t done your research here, you haven’t actually thought through the process’. It’s not a case of not backing themselves, they are the All Blacks and they should back themselves. But it is being respectful and I thought the haka choice was disrespectful.
Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images
From that moment after the haka, the Irish normally spill over the top, the adrenaline gets to them and they do something stupid. It’s almost like they had a composure about them this time and normally you just don’t see that in an Irish team. As a result, I wonder if part of their strategy was to slow the game down.
It was a case of ‘the All Blacks are fitter than us’, there were injuries all the time. Every opportunity they had the game stopped and things were slowed down and they went at their pace. And they dictated that and took away that whole fitness element around the All Blacks.
I’m not saying this was cheating. It was a good, really well thought out tactic and the Irish went out and took it to the All Blacks. They were more physical than we were, they starved us of the ball and they punished us for not starting two decent lineout locks — it was their day.
www.espn.co.uk – RUGBY