No one achieves victory over New Zealand by fluke. Joe Schmidt, who from the age of four was running around barefoot playing rugby in a small town in Waikato and dreaming of playing for the All Blacks, is only too aware of that. Having twice masterminded victories over the World Cup holders, he has spent the week assiduously plotting what would be the third and most momentous. There are thousands of Ireland supporters here. That they are armed with expectation rather than hope says everything about the difference Schmidt, the men in green’s head coach, has made in transforming a team who had conquered Europe into one who have won a Test in South Africa, a series in Australia and, after 111 years of trying, beaten New Zealand. They are, though, at a stage in the World Cup where they have never gone beyond: the quarter-finals. Their pool defeat to Japan, a result that jolted Ireland for a couple of weeks before they recovered their equilibrium against Samoa, earned them a date with … [Read more...] about Can Ireland and Joe Schmidt again prove to be New Zealand’s kryptonite?
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If there are two elements New Zealand will summon up for their heavyweight quarter-final against Ireland, they are superior World Cup experience and fearless spark. On paper Ireland have reason to believe. Their New Zealand-born coach, Joe Schmidt, has the much more settled side, with Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray starting their 56th Test together, while 12 of this Irish team started in their defeat of the All Blacks in Dublin 12 months ago. That 16-9 victory was Ireland’s second over the world champions in the past three attempts. Yet where the All Blacks moved swiftly to significantly evolve their game after Dublin, Ireland stood still, losing twice to England and once each to Wales and Japan this year. It is no coincidence the All Blacks team who will run out at Tokyo Stadium on Saturday feature nine positional changes from their last Irish defeat. As their assistant coach, Ian Foster, stated, the twin twin-playmaker partnership of Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett … [Read more...] about New Zealand’s Foster ready for Ireland: ‘We always remember our losses’
New Zealand officials have said armed police will patrol parts of the country in a trial project following heightened security concerns after the mass shooting in Christchurch in March that killed 51 people. New Zealand, like the United Kingdom and Norway, is one of the few countries where police do not carry guns while on general duty. However handguns, rifles and Tasers are kept in their vehicles and can be used with a supervisor’s permission. Serious crime is relatively unusual in New Zealand although frontline police were armed for several weeks following the massacre by a suspected white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch on 15 March. The attack sparked a debate on whether all police should carry firearms. “Following the events of March 15 in Christchurch our operating environment has changed,” said Mike Bush, the police commissioner. “Police must ensure our people are equipped and enabled to perform their roles safely and to ensure our communities … [Read more...] about New Zealand police to start armed patrols after Christchurch massacre
If you’re interested in the end of the world, you’re interested in New Zealand. If you’re interested in how our current cultural anxieties – climate catastrophe, decline of transatlantic political orders, resurgent nuclear terror – manifest themselves in apocalyptic visions, you’re interested in the place occupied by this distant archipelago of apparent peace and stability against the roiling unease of the day. If you’re interested in the end of the world, you would have been interested, soon after Donald Trump’s election as US president, to read a New York Times headline stating that Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, considered New Zealand to be “the Future”. Because if you are in any serious way concerned about the future, you’re also concerned about Thiel, a canary in capitalism’s coal mine who also happens to have profited lavishly from … [Read more...] about Why Silicon Valley billionaires are prepping for the apocalypse in New Zealand
Joe Schmidt will not be the next All Blacks coach, but the Ireland mentor could have a significant say on Saturday as to who winds up succeeding Steve Hansen in the New Zealand job. While it might seem premature to be discussing succession plans three weeks out from the end of the Rugby World Cup, it looks highly likely that New Zealand’s finishing position will be a big factor in determining who is installed at the conclusion of Hansen’s eight-year tenure. So even though Schmidt has ruled himself out of contention due to family priorities, a victory by his Ireland side over the All Blacks in the quarter-final at Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium would be bad news for Hansen’s trusted lieutenant, Ian Foster. Foster has stuck it out for eight years at Hansen’s side, working alongside forwards coach Mike Cron, Wayne Smith, who left after the Rugby Championship two years ago, and his replacement, Scott McLeod. The All Blacks were already World Cup winners when Foster … [Read more...] about More riding on New Zealand’s clash with Ireland than just a semi-final place