Opinion: Ireland need to match New Zealand's consistency

They beat New Zealand for the first time last weekend

Ireland’s win over New Zealand last weekend has set a new standard of performance for our national team which needs to be matched on a consistent basis if the historic victory is not to be consigned to the “one-offs” category.

Since the advent of professionalism, Irish rugby fortunes have gradually improved. The decision by Syd Millar and those who decided to contract our players centrally has been lauded around the world as the blueprint for professional rugby.

The IRFU has almost total control of all their players and can therefore manage their careers for the betterment of the players themselves and ultimately, the national side.

As Ireland gradually started improving on the international scene at the turn of the century, led by Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll and Ronan O’Gara in particular, and the silverware began to accumulate.

European success at domestic level was eventually followed by the countries’ first grand slam in 61 years in 2009. The team followed on from the triumph in Cardiff by finishing the year unbeaten.

Southern hemisphere scalps have become more common recently with victories over Australia and South Africa pockmarked throughout the last decade.

However, no matter how well Ireland played or whomever they beat, there was always the “can’t beat the All Blacks” line mentioned in response to any arguments about how good they were.

The victory over New Zealand last weekend has lifted a long and dark shadow which has hovered over Irish rugby for over a century. Not to sound too dramatic but the shackles have been undone and the glass ceiling has been shattered.

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen congratulates Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt after the game
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ireland didn’t just beat any New Zealand team. They beat the first back-to-back world champions and team which had just set a new record for winning 18 straight test matches.

They now need to transition from a team that can beat anyone on their day to a team that can be anyone, any day.

That process begins this November with Canada, New Zealand and Australia.