World media: Rugby's goliath has been slain as Ireland beat All Blacks

Rugby's goliath has been slain but the world's media has not put the boot into Steve Hansen's All Blacks, instead lauding the Irish for their heroic triumph in a city where sporting dreams are made.

Critical analysis of the All Blacks' selection and performance in what might ultimately be judged as an insipid surrendering of their 18-match unbeaten streak was put aside by the international rugby media who preferred to concentrate on savouring the theatre of Ireland's epic 40-29 triumph in Chicago.

Even the All Blacks' longest-serving critic, Stephen Jones of the London Times, went easy on the New Zealanders, although he did note how Ireland had revealed the world champions' "mortality" and provided a "wondrous service to the wider rugby world".

Many of the world's leading news websites including the Daily Mail, the Guardian and the Sydney Morning Herald led their sports sections for most of Sunday with Ireland's ending of its 111-year bid to finally beat the All Blacks.

And even the Chicago media, having largely ignored the All Blacks all week as Cubs-mania swept the World Series-winning Windy City, woke up to what had unfolded in its backyard.

The city's venerable newspaper The Tribune noted how the Irish fans who dominated the 63,000 strong crowd at iconic Solider Field celebrated with the same fervour as Chicago's residents did after the Cubs triumphed. It added wryly that the Irish had had to wait even longer than Cubs fans to conquer their nemesis.

ESPNscrum.com labelled the clash the best rugby test of the season, writing: "If you want to end a drought, come to the Windy City".

Here's a sample of how the global rugby media reported on Ireland's heroics......

Daily Mail:

The biggest news website in the world led its Sports section for much of the day with the upset under a massive banner headline of "The History Boys".

"They'll be talking about this week in Chicago for years to come," wrote Rory Keane. "In a week where the city's baseball side, the Chicago Cubs, ended a 108-year wait for a World Series title, Ireland ended a 111-year hoodoo against the All Blacks.

"There were memories of that frantic game in Dublin three years ago when Ireland lead 22-7 at half-time there after a breathless first half. The All Blacks came roaring back that day and stole the game at the death.

"There was no last minute heartbreak here, however. With two minutes remaining, Ireland were 40-29 ahead and history had been made.

"To a man, Ireland were outstanding. Ireland inflicted a five-try hammering to end a 18-match unbeaten run for Steve Hansen's side.

"Ireland defended heroically for a frantic final quarter but Robbie Henshaw sealed the greatest day in Irish rugby history when he barged over with four minutes remaining. Carbery's conversion sealing a 40-29 win.

"A stunning, beautiful and memorable day."

Guardian:

The giant English media outlet also made the upset its lead sports story and marvelled at the theatre that has unfolded in Chicago over the past week.

"In a week where the Chicago Cubs finally put the curse of the Billy Goat to bed, there was no shortage of people here who thought Ireland were about to do something similar with the monkey on their back. In Ireland's case that creature is all black, for New Zealand are the only team they had played but never beaten," wrote senior rugby writer Brendan Fanning from Soldier Field.

"This confidence was based not on anything as tangible as form, rather on the unique atmosphere that has gripped this city since the Cubs' World Series win on Wednesday night. The question was not why, but why not?

"And it was valid. In keeping with the script, Ireland found themselves hanging off a cliff with a gale-force wind blowing. Faced with the unlikely prospect of keeping their grip, somehow they found the energy and accuracy to clamber up to safety.

"The scale of the climb for the All Blacks had been set in a first half where they were second best all over the place. Operating on 33% possession, and the same in territory, they had just one moment that sent a wave of panic through the Irish fans, and that came in the fifth minute when Waisake Naholo opened the Irish defence with ease, en route to a try for George Moala that needed confirmation from the TMO. And that was it.

"Everywhere else they were in trouble, conceding more than twice as many penalties, and unable to secure more than 57% of ball out of touch, as against Ireland's 100%.

"Most worrying for Steve Hansen would have been the 4-8 count of turnovers conceded in Ireland's favour. When you factor in that Ireland were not falling off tackles - typically their biggest weakness against this opposition - then the All Blacks were in trouble."

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Times of London:

"Never mind the greatest performance in Ireland's history. Their stunning 40-29 win over New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago last night may have been the best in anyone's history," wrote long-time rugby writer Stephen Jones.

"In the face of magnificent Irish aggression, good judgment, wisdom and great rugby, the sporting mortality of the men in black was in no doubt. Nor was the coaching acumen of Joe Schmidt, the Kiwi in charge of Ireland.

"This win will have repercussions. The teams meet again in Dublin in two weeks, when the All Blacks will draft in a few missing men and when their intensity will be awesome. There is probably not a stadium that would be able to accommodate all those who would want to be there.

"Ireland have done a wondrous service to the wider rugby world by showing them the way. They eventually pounded New Zealand into submission. Just.

"Irish fans may find it bizarre that the win came not in Dublin or Auckland, but in Chicago, home city of the All Blacks' main sponsor. Better later than never, and better anywhere than nowhere."

Chicago Tribune:

While still wallowing in the Cubs fairytale, the Tribune still provided gracious cover and noted the part their city had played in rugby history.

"Ireland fans who overwhelmingly outnumbered New Zealanders among the 64,000-strong crowd began a delirious celebration," said the Tribune of the full-time whistle. "In the hometown of the Chicago Cubs, who ended their 108-year losing streak by winning baseball's World Series this week, they went one better and stopped a 111-year run of outs.

"And they left New Zealand with no excuses. They outmuscled and generally outplayed the world champion All Blacks. New Zealand's discipline was fractured, and through handling errors and tactical mistakes they failed to keep Ireland under any kind of pressure.

"Their rally, when it came, was determined, but it was too late."

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BBC:

The BBC website centred much of its coverage around Ireland being inspired by the recent passing of a prominent former international.

"From the start, the Irish effort appeared to be fuelled by the memory of former international and Munster head coach Anthony Foley, who died suddenly last month." BBC.co.uk's report read.

"Prior to kick-off Ireland lined up in the shape of a number eight, the jersey worn with distinction by Foley for many years, while their opponents performed their traditional pre-match haka.

"Ireland made light of the aura of invincibility surrounding the three-time world champions in a first half which they mostly dominated to go in 17 points to the good at the break.

"(Joe) Schmidt's side produced a performance of accuracy, purpose, pace and skill as they denied the All Blacks quality possession and repeatedly frustrated their efforts to win their own line-outs."


ESPNscrum.com

ESPN's rugby editor Tom Familton marvelled over the Chicago spectacle, calling it the best test of the year.

"If you want to end a drought, come to the Windy City," he told his readers.

"After 111 years, Ireland secured their first win over the All Blacks at Soldier Field, a wonderful place that has spent the past couple days celebrating the Cubs' first World Series triumph in 108 years.

"This was the best test match seen this year. As the skyscrapers of Chicago loomed large over the historic ground, Ireland and New Zealand played an epic with the cheer greeting Henshaw's 76th-minute score to hand this city yet another moment of sporting history.

"When Ireland first played the All Blacks in 1905, it was at the old Lansdowne Road in Dublin. This was an altogether different occasion, as the heroic men in green played under the beating Chicago sun to create their own slice of history.

"From one to 15, they were immense.

"All week, Ireland talked about the opportunities on offer at Soldier Field -- the opportunity to experience Chicago, the opportunity to have another crack at beating the All Blacks and the opportunity to make history. They ticked all three off the list with a performance focused on intelligent rugby and unwavering focus.

"Chicago will be in for another night of celebration after a week when it has gone into overdrive for the Cubs. For the second time in a week, folks pinched themselves and remembered loved ones who missed out on the opportunity to see history made, and smiles broke out from ear to ear while tears flowed.

"On Friday, Chicago's river was turned blue in honour of the Cubs, and who knows, they might bring out the green dye used on St. Patrick's Day.

"Tonight Chicago will be painted green with the partying going on long into the night. The Windy City is officially the new capital of sporting theatre and the place where sporting dreams come true."

London Telegraph:

The Telegraph ran a big picture of beaming Irish players after the game and under the headline of 'Emerald Smiles'.

"Ireland's class of 2016 stamped their names into the history books as Joe Schmidt's side dispatched New Zealand 40-29 in Chicago for their first victory over the All Blacks in 111 years of trying. Three days after the Chicago Cubs ended a 108-year drought to land baseball's World Series, Ireland lit up the city's Soldier Field stadium with their maiden win over the All Blacks at the 29th attempt."

- NZ Herald

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