All Blacks will bring entertainment – and their big guns – to Dublin

At first glance, New Zealand don’t seem particularly seasoned for the two defining matches of their year-end tour, although the three matches en route to Dublin – in Washington, Cardiff and the Stadio Olimpico last Saturday – without any doubt a commercial sense.

They played 16 tries and a century of points against the United States in a game that, financial considerations aside, you wonder what the use of anyone – especially American rugby – is.

Wales needed the financial boost from a packed house at the Principality’s stadium, even if it meant fielding a weakened squad outside the international window and duly dispatched half a century before the All Blacks did. a detour through Rome – never a bad idea – and publish a 47-9 with a completely changed starting XV last Saturday which had virtually no relevance for this Saturday’s meeting with Ireland.

Still, there was something fitting about these All Blacks spreading the gospel everywhere again, as they are not only ambassadors for their country, but also for sport.

A bit like Brazil in football, it would be hard to imagine rugby without them. It would certainly be duller. They are the main attraction of the game. So it’s that next Saturday’s game was quickly sold out and, akin to the erroneous pricing of IRFU tickets for the return to a revamped Lansdowne Road in 2011, it’s the only match in this window where this applies.

Against their easy wins to date and aided endlessly by their government’s acclaimed handling of the pandemic, the All Blacks have already played 13 games in 2021. They arrive after setting new records for the most tries and the most points internationally in a calendar year, and they still have Saturday’s game and their final touring game against France at the Stade de France a week later – a tasty appetizer for the World Cup opener in less two years.


Their total of 96 tries has already eclipsed the previous mark of 92 set by Argentina in 2003 and their total of 675 points topped the 658 of the world champions South Africa in 2007. Not that they will swing the chandeliers about either of these landmarks. because, no less than the previous recordings, they must be placed in their context.

Against the United States, the All Blacks also played 16 tries and racked up a century against Tonga in their 2021 opener on July 3, as well as 18 tries and 117 points in the next two home games against the United States. Fiji.

Argentina’s 2003 record was also inflated by the fact that they dipped their bread in a 144-0 win over Paraguay and matches against Chile, the United States, Canada and Uruguay ( twice) of the 16 they played that year.

New Zealander Brodie Retallick is tackled by Aaron Wainwright and Ryan Elias of Wales at Principality Stadium in Cardiff last Saturday. Photograph: James Crombie / Inpho

Similarly, five of South Africa’s 17 games in 2007 were against Tier 2 opponents, including a 105-13 victory over Namibia in the World Cup group stage.

Even so, there is no doubt that the power of the All Blacks and they should not only win every time they play, but for almost the entire professional age, do so with a brand of rugby that is always entertaining and sometimes exciting. To that end, they were, once again, exceptional in the rugby championship.

But when they deviate from those high standards, it’s a shock and they are quickly told too. After completely changing their squad from the week before against Wales, the All Blacks played with an understandable lack of cohesion against Italy, which actually highlighted how rarely this happens to them, even after big changes.

The 27-minute scoreless opening was a dismal price. The All Blacks made six handling errors in that span and 10 in the first half alone. But, like against a tiring Wales, when the game came to a halt in the last quarter, they scored four quick tries in a devastating 13 minutes.

Darker side

Of course, these aren’t shrinking violets and they don’t always end up being loved everywhere they go, either. They showed their darker side during that abrasive revenge mission to Dublin in 2016, two weeks after Ireland’s historic victory in Chicago, when Jaco Peyper granted them way too many largesse and four players were taken out. of gambling for concussion – including three Irish. This game, and the players, needed a harder referee.

Joe Schmidt had observed after the Chicago victory that Ireland may have stung the bear and obviously it was. It was the same at the last World Cup, when Ireland’s victory at the Aviva in 2018 allowed the All Blacks to win this quarter-final with, unfortunately, the utmost seriousness.

It feels like the All Blacks now respect Ireland more than ever, and their caps so far make it clear that they’ve targeted those last two games of the year.

Nonetheless, it should be noted that in the previous four clashes, Ireland not only won two, but led 19-0 and 22-7 at Aviva in 2013 and also had their chances in this revenge mission of the All Blacks 2016 mentioned above.

Four competitive outings in a row? It hasn’t always been that way. In the previous five meetings, when there had been a near failure in Christchurch which depended on a questionable penalty from Nigel Owens against Ireland and a drop goal from Dan Carter, New Zealand collected in average nearly 46 points per game.

We feel that the All Blacks now respect Ireland more than ever, and that’s understandable. As a result, their touring selections so far make it clear that they’ve targeted those last two games of the year, and all the big guns will be back, be it the exceptional Brodie Retallick, possibly the main rival of the year. ‘Antoine Dupont for Player of the Year, the explosive Ardie Savea and Beauden Barrett (or Richie Mo’unga, or both).

As always, they also artfully rebuilt, unearthing new athletic accessories and old-fashioned New Zealand rowers in the absence of retiree Kieran Read and, until recently, injured Sam Cane – namely Ethan Blackadder, Luke Jacobsen and Dalton Papalii.

As they do more than anyone, they also unveiled another jetted heeled winger in Will Jordan to hit the ground smoothly internationally (16 tries in his first 11 tests). Effortlessly scoring his own lead in Cardiff, he gave the impression that the Welsh players were jogging on the spot.

Returning to their familiar place at the top of the world rankings, they remain the ultimate barometer. The Men in Black are back, and it’s always a more interesting Fall Nations Series for that.

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