July internationals: Five takeaways from New Zealand v Ireland as Tadhg Beirne heroics helps tourists to historic series win

·5-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Following a 32-22 win for Ireland over New Zealand in their July international series decider, here’s our five takeaways from the match in Wellington.

The top line


This was the greatest day in the history of Irish rugby.

In a match where again the visitors started hot, Ireland held on in a frantic second half to win the match 32-22 and the series 2-1.

Every Irishman was a hero. Every single player delivered their plan, their role and much more. It was a game-plan designed magnificently by Andy Farrell, engineered by Jamison Gibson-Park and Johnny Sexton and one constructed by the absolutely brilliance of the back five of the Irish pack.

The quality of every element of rugby that Ireland delivered was staggeringly good – there was not one department of the game in which they didn’t beat New Zealand – line-out, defence, attack, breakdown – it was all green all evening as the Irishmen delivered their greatest ever display.

New Zealand were not bad – they are giants of rugby and their fightback in the early parts of the second half showed just how passionately they guard their status in the game, but this was a wave of emerald green that they simply had no answer to.

There’s no doubt that Wellington is the place to be tonight – the windy city will rock until the early hours and beyond.

Ireland’s foundations

Whilst Ireland were excellent in every facet of play, it was their line-out brilliance combined with the quality of their near-impregnable defence that were the foundations of this win.

The speed of line-out set up, either in maul attack or in defence was absolutely superb; led by the gnarly Peter O’Mahony they bossed almost every contact moment in that area of the set-piece and their most lethal weapon was the speed, accuracy and control of their driving maul, which led to two tries for this proud team.

But try scoring is nothing if you cannot back it up with an effective defence. Led by the brilliant Robbie Henshaw and with a supporting cast of Josh van der Flier and Tadhg Beirne they suffocated the best attacking backline in rugby, making the All Blacks go through tiring phase after phase and it was only when Ireland had run completely out of numbers or when New Zealand won a soft shoulder in defence that their primary defence collapsed.

Add into this a domination of the jackal, led by the outstanding Irish back-row and Beirne and this was the perfect team performance. As O’Mahony said post match, “as a kid you don’t even dream about things like this.” Well, on Saturday, Irish dreams game true.


Wayne Barnes often uses the line in his after dinner speeches that he was once voted the third most hated man in New Zealand, behind Osama bin Laden and Donald J Trump.

Well, as Ireland fly up the world rankings to the top, you can bet your bottom dollar than Barnes too has flown up the unofficial rankings to the most hated man down under as, bluntly, he completely bottled a red card for a head clash by Andrew Porter on Brodie Retallick, who went off the field as a result of the impact.

Barnes suggested that his mitigation was that Porter hadn’t made a dominant tackle. Rubbish. How can direct head contact on a player of 6’8″ that leads to the player going off not be a red card? There’s absolutely no mention within the laws of dominance or passivity of tackle (only dominance or passivity of CONTACT) and it appeared that the English referee has invented a new part of the HIA protocols that doesn’t exist anywhere within the rule book.

It flies in the face of every single thing that World Rugby are trying to achieve and it’s the second time (the other was the Premiership Final) where Barnes has adopted this stance.

There should be nothing taken away from Ireland’s brilliant performance but New Zealand will rightly be fuming about this decision at a point in the match when things were so close.

Our player of the match

It was a monumental performance from second-row Beirne as he dominated the line-out, won several turnovers at the breakdown, carried superbly and threw in an intercept among a heap of tackles on Saturday.

The Munster forward racked up 18 hits in all as he contributed so much to the Irish cause, his stock in the international game ultimately rocketing for those in the southern hemisphere who did not already know his worth.

To a man this Ireland team all delivered at least a 9 out of 10 performance but there’s no doubt that Beirne gets top marks as he was outstanding, showing once again what a complete back five forward he is.

Pressure mounts on Ian Foster

Could that be it for Foster as New Zealand head coach? It would be unprecedented for the All Blacks to sack a boss, especially so close to a Rugby World Cup, but public and media pressure could now become too great for the powers that be in New Zealand.

The sight of Foster in the coaching box putting on his coat with three minutes remaining in the game was perhaps a sign of what might be coming in the coming days.

It’s not a foregone conclusion, however, with the question being does New Zealand Rugby wait to see how the team fares during the upcoming Rugby Championship or act now and bring Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson in with immediate effect to try and inject some much-needed ideas and life into this team?

Robertson has been a huge success at Super Rugby level and one has always felt he was destined for the All Blacks’ top job. Now might just be the time to take the plunge as it seems New Zealand desperately need a new approach and voice as head coach.

READ MORE: July internationals: Ireland claim historic first series win over New Zealand

The article July internationals: Five takeaways from New Zealand v Ireland as Tadhg Beirne heroics helps tourists to historic series win appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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