Ireland vs New Zealand live Stream Ireland had planned to meet New Zealand at the World Cup this year—but not in Tokyo, and not so soon. In Irish minds, the two teams would cross paths in Yokohama on November 2 with the Rugby World Cup at stake.
Instead, Ireland’s defeat against Japan in its second group game condemned it to second place in Pool A and a showdown against the All Blacks on Saturday.
Considering Ireland has never won a knockout game at the World Cup and that New Zealand’s last defeat in the tournament dates all the way back to the 2007 quarterfinals, Ireland’s chances of reaching the semifinals for the first time look rather slim.
Conversely, however, Ireland can take solace in the fact that it has defeated the All Blacks in two of their last three meetings.
That is something Joe Schmidt will in all likelihood try to draw on, even though the Ireland coach has admitted his side no longer has the benefit of a surprise factor against the All Blacks.
Ireland prop Cian Healy, however, suggested his team had something up its sleeve for the weekend.
“We have some new stuff that we have not done before,” he was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
“We have beaten them a couple of times in the last few years but this is a World Cup quarter-final. It is different.”
What Ireland certainly does have is the benefit of is the best defensive record at the World Cup. The Irish have conceded just two tries, have missed fewer tackles of any of the 20 teams in the tournament and so far have the best tackle percentage.
That record will be sorely tested against a New Zealand team that has scored 267 tries in 49 Tests over the last four years, 22 of which came in three pool games—the match against Italy was canceled because of Typhoon Hagibis.
The last time New Zealand failed to score a try was when it lost 16-9 to Ireland in Dublin in November last year. A year is a long time in international rugby, particularly when there is a World Cup semifinal spot at stake.
“We were beaten by a good team last November, but that was a different time, a different place,” said Ian Foster, the All Blacks attacking coach.
“Is it relevant? We don’t get stuck in the past: it is more about the excitement of the challenges in front of us. This is a week we have been preparing for a long time. It is where you really test yourself.
For Schmidt, meanwhile, the best way to look forward is to give a nod at the past, with each of the 15 starters having featured in the wins over the All Blacks either in 2016 or last year.
The New Zealander has recalled Rob Kearney, Garry Ringrose and Peter O’Mahony into the starting XV, with the impressive Jordan Larmour missing out.
“You weigh up the experiences, previous performances against other opposition,” Schmidt, who will step down as Ireland coach at the end of the tournament, said in his press conference.
“You can’t guarantee you’ve got any decision right until the game is completed.”
Ireland, however, will be without Bundee Aki, who was ruled for the remainder of the tournament after being sent off in the final Pool C game against Samoa.
Schmidt’s counterpart Steve Hansen, meanwhile, has opted for a relatively inexperienced back division. That, however, is more indicative of the embarrassment of riches at his disposal than of the New Zealand coach rolling the dice.