Sport International Rugby

Sunday 25 March 2018

'We spoke before the game about creating history'

The Irish players celebrates beating New Zealand at the final whistle. Photo: Getty
The Irish players celebrates beating New Zealand at the final whistle. Photo: Getty

John Fallon

The teeming rain had drenched the fans by the end, but nobody noticed. Many of them were crying by that stage, anyway.

Oblivious to the downpour, they reached to the heavens and celebrated one of the finest ever wins by an Irish side.

Nigel Carolan's U-20s got a glorious day for Irish rugby off to a flying start with a 33-24 win over the reigning world champions. It the first time an Irish national men's side defeated New Zealand.

Up to now Munster's 1978 win over the All Blacks and the victory two years ago by the women's team at the World Cup in France were the only triumphs by Irish sides against New Zealand.

But that all changed on Saturday at the Manchester City Academy Stadium when Ireland blew the Baby Blacks away with a devastating display.

Captain James Ryan led the charge from the front - but he said they thrived on the pressure, rather than being weighed down by the challenge. "It's an incredible feeling. We spoke before the game about creating history, it wasn't just another game. The boys dug really deep there in the second-half and we got the win," he said.

The win over the five-time world champions came just four days after Ireland came from 17-0 down to oust Six Nations grand slam winners Wales 26-25.

"I think the boys' attitude coming in, it was a huge win for us against Wales, that was an upset. It would have been easy for us to just rest on our laurels and be happy with that. But we recovered really well and pretty quickly we were looking at this game," said the former St Michael's College captain.

They will now take on newcomers Georgia, who have lost their two games at the tournament, on Wednesday evening knowing that a win will guarantee a place in the semi-finals for only the second time.

But the win came at a price, as superb out-half Bill Johnston has been ruled out of the remainder of the competition after dislocating his shoulder.

"It is a great win and these lads should be so proud of what they have achieved," said coach Carolan. "But there is no time to dwell on it, we have turned our attention to Georgia and that's our primary task. It's been great to see so many parents and fans coming to Manchester to support the team, along with the Irish people living in the UK."

Irish Independent

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