All Blacks v Ireland

Ireland were very good today and deserved their win. No complaints.

The ABs were poor and made to look very ordinary by a committed Ireland side who wanted to put us under pressure from the get go.

The AB’s are the best side in the world until they come up against a team that wants to tackle and pressure us. This had shades of the 2019 semi against England.

I have said for some time that NZ rugby are not producing the right kind of players for test rugby that can be successful in RWCs and against the very top sides. Ireland in the autumn is definitely one of those.

A lot has been made of the ABs wanting to play unstructured rugby. We are good at it. However, we either don’t understand how or can’t break down a side through our own structured rugby first, to enable us to get in a position where we force them into unstructured game scenarios - pressure them into turnovers, dropped balls, poor kicks etc.

Ireland are one of the most structured sides in the game and it showed throughout the match. They enjoyed a huge amount of possession in the first half and we hade to make over 140 tackles. In one half. That required defensive effort will always come back to hurt you later in the game.

At halftime we must have talked at length about holding on to the ball, having possession to play our game that allows territory and then opportunities will follow. We kicked the ball away 3 times in the first 3 minutes and Ireland duly scored. It’s not smart rugby.

We had a huge amount of dropped passes and threw the ball into touch a few times today. Lots of those dropped balls were unforced errors tbh and we looked a panicked side trying to attack against a composed and organised Irish defence. We couldn’t impose ourselves enough to force Ireland into making errors or breaking up up their defensive organisation.

Perhaps the 16 week quarantine bubble tour has finally affected the squad and the performance of the team. We saw that with SA in the RC when they lost games they perhaps shouldn’t have.

The biggest frustration is we have known for 4 years we struggle when confronted with a side like this. For all the gains we have made this year, we haven’t addressed this massive problem at all and we looked as poor as we did that night against England in the RWC loss.

Do we have the players to turn this around? Is super rugby aotearoa and trans Tasman rugby good enough preparation for how todays test rugby is played? Is it a surprise when the assistant coach who was part of the team that oversaw the decline of AB rugby over the last 3 years and the semi loss against England, is now the head coach and showing the same weaknesses in how his side performs?

Congrats to Ireland. Well played. Lots of work to do for the all black squad over the next couple of years.

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