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Ireland make ‘unreal’ SVNS history with first-ever win over New Zealand

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

On a famed July afternoon at Chicago’s Soldier Field in 2016, a legendary group of Ireland rugby players etched their names into history as they defeated the All Blacks for the first time in history.


That unforgettable Test match at the home of the Chicago Bears will live on forever as a momentous occasion for Irish rugby, with that victory proving to be a catalyst for an era of success.

Much like those rugby heroes in green who took the field seven years ago, another Ireland side has brought an end to a winless drought against New Zealand at the Cape Town SVNS.

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Led by hat-trick hero Terry Kennedy, the Ireland sevens ran away with a commanding 36-21 win at the Western Cape venue as they beat the All Blacks Sevens for the first time in history.

“It’s unreal. It’s our first time actually beating New Zealand so it was a bit of a monkey off our back getting that done and to do it in that style was amazing in front of that crowd,” Kennedy told RugbyPass.

“It was something we’ve spoken about for a while so it was unbelievable to do so.

“They’re the only team we hadn’t (beaten) a few times we came very close.

“I’m not sure if they knew that but it’s something that we’ve known for a long time so anytime we got the chance to play them we’re really looking to get that done and thankfully we finally did.”

Ireland shot out of the blocks at the Cape Town Stadium with Kennedy crossing for the first of his three tries in just the first minute.


Kennedy added another two tries to the score and Zac Ward crossed for a brace before New Zealand even registered a point on a sweltering Sunday morning.

Tepaea Cook Savage, Cody Vai and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black scored second-half tries for the All Blacks Sevens, which made the game look even closer than what it was.

Don’t put it down to the luck of the Irish, either. Ireland were relentless in their pursuit of victory, with their precise execution in defence laying the platform for a perfect attacking outing.

“To be fair I think it was more about our defence, especially in that first half… we worked so hard in D to get those turnovers and eventually get through,” Kennedy said.


“Unbelievable squad effort there.


“It’s crucial. We spoke about it before the game, not letting them score first,” he added.

“It’s massive because once they get their tails up they’re a brilliant attacking team and they’re very hard to stop.

“We knew we’d have to put a bit of scoreboard pressure on them and then hopefully they’ll start to make mistakes and we can capitalise on them.”

Ireland has emerged as the team to beat at the Cape Town SVNS after beating hosts South Africa in the final match on day one, and backing that up with that performance against the reigning world champions.

Two successful conversions from Hugo Lennon proved to be the difference as Ireland hung on for a hard-fought 14-12 win which saw them top Pool A.

“Topping our group and then getting New Zealand in the quarter, it’s funny how this comp is working.

“To get it done is unreal. We had to back up last night’s performance, late enough and then to get up early this morning and do it again was brilliant.

“It gave us a huge amount (of confidence). South Africa are coming off a huge win in Dubai and for us to get one over on them in front of their home crowd, it meant a lot to us.”


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1 Comment
Pecos 224 days ago

About time. Very well done. Brilliant effort.

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