18 Nov 2018

Out-thought, out-played, out-done

3:19 pm on 18 November 2018

Opinion - That wasn't just a loss. That was a statement.

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The final score score at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo: Photosport / INPHO / Dan Sheridan

The adage for the last decade or so, for at least those in the know, was that you have to score around about 30-odd points to beat the All Blacks. There was no point trying to tackle them out of the game, because they'd just find a way to get through. You can't kick it all day, because they'll just run it back.

Even when the weather is bad, they'll churn you up and beat you at your own game - England found that out last weekend.

But, despite all evidence to the contrary, Joe Schmidt and Andy Farrell figured out the new Irish way to beat them. Keep the ball in tight, control the collision areas and not panic when the set piece gets a few wobbles.

Plus, rather cheekily, stealing a move that the All Blacks themselves pulled off just three weeks ago.

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Ireland's Jacob Stockdale scores a try despite the efforts of All Blacks Aaron Smith and Damien McKenzie. Photo: Photosport / INPHO/Bryan Keane

If Jacob Stockdale's try looked familiar, it's because it was the same play that saw Beauden Barrett score in the second half of the third Bledisloe Cup test in Yokohama. The switch of play created a gap down the blindside, which the winger burst through. Barrett came looming up in support of Rieko Ioane against the Wallabies, while Stockdale did it himself with a well-timed chip and chase.

In the post match press conference, Schmidt didn't even deny that it probably was a facsimile from their study of the All Blacks' last few games. In fact, he even half-jokingly admitted he copies moves from all sorts of places, which was a refreshingly honest answer in a forum usually swimming in vagaries and misdirection.

While Schmidt did admit that it was a little bit conflicting as a New Zealander to mastermind the defeat of a team he supports any other week of the year, it was obvious that the grin on his face probably won't be going anywhere soon. This will now be the first achievement listed on his CV, one that may well be handed over to NZ Rugby after next year's World Cup if he decides to have a tilt at a potentially vacant All Black coaching spot.

The win this evening in Dublin was built on smarts, physicality and the passion of a packed out Aviva Stadium. It was hard not to be moved as the 'Fields of Athenry' boomed out from the voices of 50,000, willing their team on to an achievement never seen before on Irish soil.

Of course, now all of them plus an awful lot more, will be expecting even more from their team in a year's time. Ireland haven't had these sorts of expectations put on them before, so this will be a true test.

Here are some undeniable facts: this was the lowest score the All Blacks have managed in a defeat since 1999. It's also their lowest score in a game since the 2011 World Cup final. It's their second game in two years where they haven't scored a try (after the second test loss to the British & Irish Lions). It's their first loss in Europe in six years.

But just like that, the All Blacks are no longer the best team in the world. Even though the rankings may not admit it, all the talk in the post match press conference was about that - plus what it means for next year's World Cup.

For now though, the talk will should be about Joe Schmidt - the man who out-thought the All Blacks.

* Frustration at his own shortcomings as a rugby player and multiple concussions have left Jamie with an innate ability to find fault with rules, players, matches and sporting bodies alike.