Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
- From Dubai to Switzerland and Saudi Arabia with a fond farewell to Julián Díaz along the way - May 18, 2022
- Around the world in 80 (or so) days - May 15, 2022
- Cannes on steroids and gobsmacked in an airport wonderland - May 11, 2022
Let’s start with the facts. My mother, rest her soul, was born in Dublin. Which makes me half-Irish to go with all that Kiwi blood.
Ok then, not those facts. Let’s talk numerical facts. 40 point facts. As in Ireland. And 29 point ones. As in the All Blacks.
On Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago – home to the Chicago Cubs, who last week laid a 108-year World Series hoodoo to rest – those rugby boys in green got their own Godzilla-size monkey off a nation’s back by beating New Zealand’s mighty All Blacks for the first time in 111 years.
Yes, that’s right, 111 – which also just happens to be the emergency telephone number in New Zealand. And boy did the shell-shocked men in black ever need emergency assistance as they found themselves trailing by 25-8 at half-time. It got better, at first a little and then a lot as the Kiwis came storming back in the way they always seem to do but in the end a superb Irish team and no little overdue sporting justice prevailed.
While I watched the game from the comfort – sorry, discomfort – of my sofa, it was almost like being pitchside, thanks to a constant stream of texts and photos from our Honorary Rugby Reporter, aka Marcus Griffin, Senior Vice President/Director – Human Resources for Dufry Americas & Caribbean.
Irishman Marcus was at Soldier Field with his wife Orla and their three kids, Muireann, Una and Pierce (Pierce represented Florida State Juice Rugby Under 14 and is a member of Okapi Wanderers in Weston, Florida). Before the match Marcus told me: “I predict humbly that Ireland will win 16-10.”
Here’s some snippets from his commentary (with additional contributions as they happened from travel retail’s special comments men from all around the globe by text):
13.35 (25 minutes before kick-off): Marcus Griffin: “All set for the match Martin, wish you were here.”
13.43: Marcus Griffin: “Great atmosphere!”
13.45: Marcus Griffin: “Just fabulous.”
13.56: Marcus Griffin: “All set.”
14:00: Marcus Griffin: “This needs no explanation.”
14.05: Sexton penalty. Ireland 3-0 All Blacks
14.08: Moala try. Ireland 3-5 All Blacks
14.08: Moody yellow card for the All Blacks! Referee!!! You should have sent off Davitt, not Moody. Now it’s 15 against 14. Not fair!
14.19/20: Try! Murphy for Ireland! Sideline conversion from Sexton. Ireland 10-5 All Blacks
14.18: Moodie, I mean Moody, back on the field. That’ll sort things out.
14.26: Oh no it won’t. Stander scores for Ireland! Ireland 15-5 All Blacks.
14.30: Marcus Griffin: “I feel like I’m your only The Moodie Davitt man on the ground over here, in my unofficial role as Honorary Reporter. It’s a great atmosphere and the fans are a blast. The weather is clear blue sky and the sun is up. More pics coming.”
14.30: Barrett penalty. Ireland 15-8 All Blacks 8.
14.33: Sexton penalty. Ireland 18-8 All Blacks 8.
14.37: Conar Murray try. Brilliant! Sexton converts. Ireland 25-All Blacks 8. I need to open a bottle of wine. Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. I figure it’s gonna take the best to win this.
Half-time: Ireland 25-All Blacks 8. What’s happening…?
Marcus Griffin: “No mention of the score…
Over to our special Galway correspondent Dermot Davitt: “Gotta nail a few more scores or another gallant defeat on the way. But not bad…”
MM: “No, you are on top and anything could happen. We cannot play without the ball. Tonight could be history!”
Marcus Griffin: “Underpaid Honorary Reporter here… still another half and I’m with some fabulous Kiwi supporters beside us and what a laugh. I think my wife Orla is going to run off with one. A really lovely family occasion and I for one am honoured to be here.”
15.16: Second half kicks off.
15.18 And now over to our Wild Rover comments man Barry Geoghegan in Dublin. “I can’t breathe and it’s soooooo long to go.”
15.24: Zebo try Ireland! Ireland 30-All Blacks 8. Oh my giddy aunt (may she rest in peace).
Dermot Davitt (clearly a graduate from the Galway Academy of Optimism): “Think there’s trouble ahead but at least we are still scoring.”
And now a word (well, probably quite a lot of them) from our special correspondent in Dublin, David Spillane: “It’s not over until the fat lady has sung all five verses…”
MM: “No, you are home and deserve it.”
15.24: Perenara try for All Blacks! Barrett conversion. Ireland 30-All Blacks 15.
15.29: What’s this then?! Ben Smith try! Barrett converts. Ireland 30-All Blacks 22.
15.31: Murray penalty for Ireland. Could be the crucial score. Ireland 33-All Blacks 22.
15.35: Hold on a goddamn minute… Barrett try! No, not Beauden Barrett but his big (little) brother Scott making his debut. Little (big) brother converts. Ireland 33-All Blacks 29. MM (screaming while near simultaneously downing a glass of Cloudy Bay in one gulp): “Yes! Come on! Come on! You can do it.” Samira Moodie (14) from next room: “Are you alright Daddy?”
15.36: David Spillane: “You were saying…?”
15. 49: Henshaw forces his way over for Ireland! Marcus Griffin: “I’m on it Martin!” And sends me a bloody picture to prove it.
“Jesus wept!” says the commentator on the Guardian live feed. Forget about Jesus, there’s a whole nation down in the southern hemisphere spluttering over their cornflakes. Carberry (21 years old, born in New Zealand) kicks the conversion. Ireland 40-All Blacks 29.
David Spillane: “She’s putting on her dress…”
15.50: David Spillane: “She’s clearing her throat…”
15.52: Full-time whistle blows! Dial 111. Ireland have done it!
15.52: David Spillane: “She’s now singing her heart out!”
Barry Geoghegan: “Can’t believe it!”
- Pick the winning team
- Choose the correct result and the closest entrant on total points differential using both teams’ scores (i.e. if the match had ended 20-18 to the All Blacks, and you picked them to win 25-16 you would have a differential of 7) takes out the grand prize.
And here are the superb prizes:
- 3 bottles of the outstanding Tito’s Handmade Vodka (produced in the Lone Star state of Texas, USA), compliments of its duty free specialist, Irishman Barry Geoghegan. Tito’s Handmade Vodka Managing Director International John McDonnell is Boston Irish, and his mother from Connemara.
- A beautiful silver fern (New Zealand’s and the All Blacks’ national symbol) piece of Waterford jewellery from Ireland courtesy of Dubliner David Spillane and Global Travel Retail Sales, which handles the brand in travel retail.
- 3 bottles of Hunter’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, courtesy of the Moodie in The Moodie Davitt Report. Hunter’s was founded by Irishman Ernie Hunter, tragically killed in 1987 in a car accident. Plus, a gwp in the form of a limited-edition DVD of the 2013 Ireland-All Blacks match – in fact not just limited but also condensed (to the final 2 minutes and 34 seconds, of course). Not that you’ll be needing to watch that anymore.
- A chance to win a million dollars. Seriously! Courtesy of a ticket in Dubai Duty Free’s fabulous Millennium Millionaire prize draw, offering you the chance to win US$1 million in the subsequent prize draw. Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman Colm McLoughlin and Senior Vice President – Marketing Sinead El Sibai are both proudly Irish. An Irish victory and a million dollars. Could it get any sweeter?
- The Butlers Chocolate Platinum Collection (not even on shelf yet in duty free) courtesy of the Irish chocolate house’s Sales Director Karl Marnane. What money on a Soldier Field travel retail exclusive edition by Christmas?
- From Bernard Walsh of Walsh Whiskey Distillery, a bottle of each of the company’s signature whiskeys. The super-premium The Irishman 17yo is described as “a very limited-edition, superlative single malt from a single cask after maturation in one of just three first-fill sherry butts” [as opposed to the Kiwi butts that just got kicked]. Also (clearly in anticipation of the Irish victory’s impact on me) a bottle of the critically acclaimed Writers Tears – the brand’s ‘Copper Pot’, “a unique old Irish Pot Still whiskey” (a vatting of single malt and single pot still whiskeys).
We were inundated with entries, most it has to be said (even from proud Irishmen) predicting a comfortable All Blacks victory. Many saw the Kiwis running away with it by 30-40 points.
But there were some exceptions. Here’s the call of Irish fame:
Karl Marnane, International Sales Director, Butlers Chocolates: Ireland to win by 2 (score unspecified)
Marcus Griffin, Senior Vice President/Director – Human Resources for Dufry Americas & Caribbean and occasional rugby commentator: Ireland 16-All Blacks 10 (based on our rules that’s a total score differential of 43 points)
Barry Geoghegan: Founder, Barry Global Innovation: Ireland 16-All Blacks 11 (score differential of 42 points)
Ian McLernon: Managing Director – Travel Retail Asia Pacific, Moët Hennessy – LVMH: Ireland 17-All Blacks 12 (score differential of 40 points)
But our winner is Domnick O Reilly, Head of Operations, Bahrain Duty Free who (in an e-mail headed ‘Irish to Make History in USA’) opted for Ireland 21-All Blacks 20, giving him a total points differential of 28, not normally good enough to win a score prediction contest but, boy, this was no normal contest.
Domnick we’ll get your prizes to you soon. In the meantime, the Irish won’t have to wait another 111 years for another chance to beat the All Blacks – the two sides are doing it all over again in Dublin on 19 November. In fact on current form it could be rugby’s equivalent of London buses. You wait for 111 years for one and then two come along.
What a belter the sequel promises to be (best of 3 anyone?). And what a place of sporting destiny Chicago has turned out to be. What a day. What an upset. What a story. Oh, did I mention that my Mum was Irish?