Ireland stun All Blacks to lay down Rugby World Cup marker

"All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said that the victor of this game could justifiably claim to the world's best team and, while they remain No 2 on the rankings, Joe Schmidt's Ireland are top of the world", Ruaidhri O'Connor wrote for the Irish Independent.

The All Blacks suffered their first ever loss to the Irish two years ago, 40-29 in Chicago, before taking revenge with a 21-9 victory in Dublin two weeks later.

The All Blacks boss stuck to his word in the wake of Ireland's triumph, and even labelled Joe Schmidt's Ireland as the front-runners for next year's World Cup. We're all going to be making an announcement shortly. "I decided before I left [New Zealand for the All Blacks tour] that I was going to make an announcement, and I'll do that before Christmas at some stage".

Hansen hailed Ireland as the "No.1 team in the world" at the Aviva Stadium.

New Zealand retained their world No.1 status despite losing to No.2 side Ireland - but head coach Hansen had claimed before the clash that the victor would swipe the global bragging rights.

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Joe Schmidt's side were able to nullify the New Zealand attack and dominate in the break down as they well and truly outclassed the mighty All Blacks.


World champions New Zealand must put on their best performance of the year if they are to beat Ireland in a meeting between rugby's two top-ranked teams in Dublin today, captain Kieran Read has said.

New Zealand held onto their official world number one ranking despite losing to second placed Ireland, as the hosts pulled off a defensive masterclass to shut out the visitors.

Hansen insisted before the clash that the winners would earn the right to call themselves the best in the world, regardless of the rankings.

Asked how Ireland have improved, Hansen said: "I think they are fitter; their defence is great".

New Zealand, who had not suffered defeat in Europe since 2012, dug deep in an attempt to engineer a way back into the contest but found Ireland in no mood to surrender their hard-earned lead.

"So for us to be favourites when they have been the world number-one team for nine years, and continue to be the world number-one team".

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