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Screw You Ireland: One Brave All Blacks Fan Dares to Be a Bad Sport

By Hayden Donnell
Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrate their undeserved victory. Photo: Getty

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Responding to All Blacks losses in the worst possible way is a defining characteristic of New Zealand rugby fans. So what gives with all the good sportsmanship after the loss to Ireland? Hayden Donnell bravely attempts to reclaim a time-honoured tradition.

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All Blacks victories are one of the fundamental forces holding New Zealand society together. Earth. Water. Air. Fire. Smirking Steve Hansen. Our weekly annihilation of an outmatched foe is proof the world is round; that gravity will continue to hold us to this flightless bird-infested rock.

So when the All Blacks lose, it’s an existential blow. New Zealand always responds with bewildered tears. Recriminations. Nationwide mourning. Some people don’t bother grieving and literally just die, according to research by a pair of Christchurch doctors.

Our sorrow goes hand-in-hand with a kind of deranged bullying usually only seen under Facebook posts about atheism or Hillary Clinton. After the All Blacks lost to France in the quarter-finals of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, referee Wayne Barnes was almost forced into hiding by the tsunami of hatred.

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That’s New Zealand. It’s my home. The place I love.

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And now it’s gone.

On Sunday morning, the All Blacks lost to Ireland. What unfolded afterward was a bizarre, unrelenting display of humour, warmth, camaraderie and good sportsmanship. The NZ Herald Facebook page, often a safe haven for the worst dregs of humanity, was littered with comments congratulating Ireland on a game well played.

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The Stuff.co.nz Facebook page was similarly infected with positivity.

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Even the Stuff.co.nz comments section, a pit of despair populated with actual demons, was sanguine about the defeat.

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Where is the New Zealand where police forces have to go on suicide watch after All Blacks defeats? Where are the fans looking to pin the blame for their despair on anything other than the side they support? While on the face of it, this lack of deplorably bad sportsmanship seems like a mark of respect for Ireland, it’s actually the opposite. It means we don’t hold them in high enough regard to be insufferable dicks over our loss. We don’t care enough to be truly hurt. If we really want to congratulate them on their historic win, we should be engaging in sparsely-evidenced conspiracy theories about how the brave All Blacks were poisoned or had the insoles stolen from their boots.

When a nation fails, sometimes ordinary men have to step up. So here’s our list of reasons the All Blacks lost, that have nothing to do with Ireland playing better than the All Blacks:

1. The ref was clearly paid off by a bookie in some dank Munster pub, letting the cheating Irish loose forwards away with something approaching war crimes at the breakdown all afternoon.

2. The TMO should never have allowed Ireland’s first try from the lineout push as there was no evidence the ball was grounded. (Ben Smith’s try in the corner later in the game was fine.)

3. The grass on Soldier Field looked about 1-2cm too long. This slowed the All Blacks down and basically handed Ireland the win before the whistle was blown. Thanks a lot idiot American ground staff who don’t know anything about rugby.

4. Celebrating Chicago Cubs fans kept Julian Savea awake after their historic World Series win during the week. An adequately-rested Savea would have had the pace to find the tryline in the second half; instead he was bundled into touch.

5. Remember the listening device the All Blacks found in their Sydney hotel room? Now we know who planted it.

Enjoy your lucky win while it lasts Ireland. See you at the real test match in Dublin in a fortnight.

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