• Exhausted?

    How to explain the All Blacks’ disappointing performance in Dublin overnight?

    Was it brought about by a defective game plan or a lack of skill or effort?

    No – there was a much more obvious factor at work. The players were simply exhausted.

    Consider the past three or four months. The All Blacks have spent months away from home – initially in Australia, because of covid – playing Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship matches on successive weekends against the southern hemisphere’s top teams.

    They then travelled, via a stopover in the USA to play a money-making match against the Eagles, to the northern hemisphere where they have played and are to play matches against the top teams in that neck of the woods; even the win against Italy, comfortable though it was, was energy-sapping, as was the match against Wales, impressive though that performance was.

    Throughout this period the All Blacks were away from home, with the emotional strain that that brings and putting up with the wearying toll that travel and constantly moving accommodation can take. Little wonder that by the time they got to Dublin, they were running on empty.

    The Irish defeat, in other words, can be laid at the door, not of the players or even the coaches, but of those who sanctioned the killing schedule they have had to endure. And there is still another new country and another top team to take on next week!