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  • Mason Masters

Quarantine Rewatch: 2016 All-Blacks v Ireland

{Look, there are no sports right now and it really sucks. ESPN and other channels have begun showing old games and to be honest, with the massive backlog of events recorded for posterity, I find their lack of imagination a little frustrating. So, for the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting events from different sports and different eras that are unlikely to come up on your TV guide. Hopefully, these posts will make this bizarro timeline a little less dumb. Thanks, YouTube!}

I wish rugby was more popular in the United States. It should be. The game's lack of popularity may have to do with how rugby is still perceived to be played. For many years a rugby pitch resembled a cutaway of a packed subway train, a mass of humanity crushed into a ball moving inch by inch down the field.

Modern rugby isn't that game anymore. The game is much faster, and players are just as tough as ever while possessing skill sets that rival NFL talent. Over the past decade, rugby has tried to plant seeds of growth in the US. The most visible of these attempts to tap the market has been through exhibition games played in the states, where top teams play in packed NFL stadiums showcasing their considerable talents. One team, in particular, has been the poster child for the events; the New Zealand All Blacks. The All Blacks have dominated rugby for decades and the team has come to define a cultural identity for many New Zealanders. With the exemption of their biggest rival, South Africa (possibly the most intense rivalry in sports) the All Blacks rarely have a true equal on the pitch.

All of this brings us to November 5th, 2016. The All Blacks are once again the flagship team of an American Tour. The sacrificial lamb for this game is to be Ireland. The Irish had been putting strong sides together for years, but in the 111 years since they first played the All Blacks, Ireland had yet to beat them. The game was to be held at Soldier Field in Chicago, just 3 days after this inconsequential story was made final.   

Was there still some magic left in the Second City? Find out for yourself. Enjoy a bruising match that posted 69 very nice points and, as I can personally attest to, might have capped the rowdiest weekend Chicago has ever had. 


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