On Saturday, the All Blacks were able to bounce back against Ireland with a ferocious win in Dublin. However, the match provided a few moments that have given plenty of fuel to those claiming the All Blacks are ill-disciplined at best, and dirty and deliberately dangerous at worst.
As you’ve seen by now, the All Blacks bounced back from their loss in Chicago to subdue the Irish on their home soil. It was an encounter that showcased an amazing display of defence from the World Champs, and a physical game plan from the Irish that allowed for another great contest.
However, the match was certainly not without controversy.
Did Beauden Barrett ground the ball? Should Sam Cane have been shown a yellow card?
As can be expected from coaches to fans, reactions are split down the middle, as these two videos show. Many Northern Hemisphere media outlets are convinced the All Blacks have ceded some kind of “high moral ground”. New Zealand media is responding in kind.
Coach Steve Hansen seems to at least agree with the Malakai Fekitoa citing, but plans on contesting the Sam Cane citing. “Fekitoa’s challenge was clumsy and high, but we will defend Sam’s. We believe it was a head clash.”
Ireland team manager Michael Kearney certainly let his feelings be known as well. “I don’t think we’re whinging at all. I think the facts speak for themselves. He (the citing officer) actually picked out 12 different incidents, of which 11 of them involved New Zealand, and one involved Ireland, which we’ve subsequently been cleared of.
“The evidence is very clear that Robbie [Henshaw] took a shoulder to the jaw, which knocked him unconcious,” Kearney said (video below).
For their part, the players seem ready to move on. Jamie Heaslip admits that these things will sometimes happen in rugby. “It’s a contact sport. People get hurt. I’m not concered at all…”
Both Malakai Fekitoa and Sam Cane are set for hearings on Tuesday after being cited for high-tackles made in Saturday’s test match. These coming after the directive from World Rugby for officials to crack down on dangerous play above the shoulder.
Whatever is decided in the court of public opinion, the greater Rugby world has just been given another great rivalry going forward.
Are the All Blacks dirty or just playing physical Rugby? Are the Irish right to voice concern or should they adjust and move on?
UPDATE: Cane cleared, Fekitoa suspended
Kearney’s comments pick up around the 6:20 mark.
credit: The Tight Five Rugby Union/ Irish Rugby TV