New Zealand 60, Ireland 0: What the hell happened to Ireland??

After almost racking up their first non-defeat by the All Blacks last weekend in Christchurch, with the All Blacks winning the game on a last minute drop-goal by Dan Carter, Ireland decided to get the whole pesky “end of game” collapse out of the way in the first 20 minutes of their third Test Saturday in Hamilton. The 60-0 final score was the worst defeat ever by the Irish at New Zealand’s hands, just seven days off from having almost beaten the All Blacks for the first time ever.

Ireland’s collapse started off strong, giving away four tries in the first 22 minutes to the All Blacks, including a back-to-back pair to… wait for it… (no not Gavin Henson)… reputed soon-to-be-returning to Rugby League star Sonny Bill Williams.

The Irish never appeared to be very comfortable, especially once New Zealand took such a commanding 26-0 lead in the first quarter of the game. Ireland were never able to capitalize after captain Brian O’Driscoll started to engineer a drive into New Zealand territory. At the half, Irish fullback Rob Kearney intercepted a pass that would have led to yet another New Zealand try, but the ref decided he deliberately knocked it on, gave  Kearney a 10-minute yellow card, and gave a penalty for the All Blacks, who tacked on a three-point penalty kick to go into the half leading 29-0.

The second half looked no better for the Irish, as the All Blacks picked up where they left off, charging through a battered Irish defense time and again to score nearly at will. By the time it was over the Irish looked dejected, bewildered, wondering if anyone got the name of the train that ran over them in Hamilton.

Unfortunately, last week’s question of “what could have been” has been replaced by “what the hell happened?” Both are questions that will take a long time to answer.  And the way the tour schedule is firming up for the future, Saturday was the last time in the next 12 years that Ireland had a chance at gaining their first win against New Zealand, outside of any possible faceoffs in the World Cup.

So I have to admit something to the SuperSite nation (all 2 of you 😉 ) I’ve just finished watching the ’73 Barbarians vs. All Blacks match (for the 100th time or so) and, while a very nice piece of complete team play, I’m not convinced that Gareth Edwards’ try in the 4th minute deserves its title of “The Greatest Try of All Time.” Much like the U.S. Olympic Hockey team’s 1980 win over the Russians has become immortalized more for Al Michaels’ overhyping (“Do you believe in miracles??”), the never ending adulation for Edwards’ try seems to come from the fact that the announce team was hyped up on Meth as he scored.  Looking at the play of Gavin Hastings, Jonah Lomu, Ritchie McCaw or David Campese, many of their tries are just as exciting, if not as well lauded.

What do you think? Am I in the wrong? Was this in fact the “Greatest Try of All Time?”