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Redemption? Or repeat? We asked the question and we got the answer.
Saturday’s rugby test match between Ireland and the All Blacks in Dublin was every bit as exciting as the build-up had led us to anticipate. It was tough, it was tense, and the Aviva Staium was a cauldron, fuelled by Irish excitement and expectancy after their stunning first-ever defeat of the All Blacks two weeks before in Chicago.
Could the singing of A Soldier’s Song inspire the men in green to those same crazed and crazy heights they achieved on Soldier Field?
Soldiers are we
whose lives are pledged to Ireland;
Some have come
from a land beyond the wave.
Sworn to be free,
No more our ancient sire land
Shall shelter the despot or the slave.
Tonight we man the gap of danger
In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal
“Mid cannons” roar and rifles peal,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song.
Sinne Firnna Fil
A t f gheall ag irinn,
buion dr slua
Thar toinn do rinig chugainn,
F mhid bheith saor.
Sean tr r sinsir feasta
N fhagfar f’n tiorn n fn tril
Anocht a tham sa bhearna bhaoil,
Le gean ar Ghaeil chun bis n saoil
Le guna screach f lmhach na bpilar
Seo libh canadh Amhrn na bhFiann.
Or would the Irish suffer the dreaded ‘Blacklash’, the wrath of the World Champions unleashed in a constant tide of dark fury?
The answer fell curiously in between. For much of the match Ireland was the dominant side, commanding over 60% of possession and putting the All Blacks defence under relentless pressure. But like Mohammed Ali’s ‘rope-a-dope’ tactics against George Foreman in the famed ‘Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), the All Blacks absorbed all the punishment and then struck with the ferocity and speed of a King Cobra. The result? A 21-9 victory to the All Blacks, but in truth a match that felt (and was) desperately close all the way. No bragging rights at all then but for now at least, black is the new green.
One of the great things about writing this Blog is the engagement with readers. I wish I had space to include all the superb banter with Irish, Kiwi and other readers that the Blog, and of course our Readers’ Competition, generated.
To remind you, we had some stunningly good prizes on offer for the individual who came closest to predicting the result – based on the cumulative differential between their scores for each team and the actual result.
We were overwhelmed with entries, many this time picking an Irish victory (a stark contrast with last time around). Great to see so many Kiwi entries this time, all like me, believing redemption was at hand.
Those to get close included:
- Jackie Neville, Manager – Passenger Products, Auckland Airport, with a score of 31-22 to the All Blacks (total differential = 23)
- Steve Cox, Marketing Director, JCDecaux Airport UK: 33-18 (differential = 21)
- Adrian Fennell, Brand & Communications Manager, Aer Rianta International: 29-18 (differential = 17)
- Richard Barker. General Manager Retail & Commercial, Auckland Airport: 27-20 (differential = 17)
- A great effort from an industry icon, Brian Collie, Chairman, Luxury Retail at McArthur Glen and former BAA Group Retail and World Duty Free Group boss, who plumped for 27-18, a differential of 15.
- But that was bettered by two industry pundits, starting with Tim Jobber of UK and German travel retail consultancy JES – Travel Retail, who opted for 28-12, a differential of just 10 points.
Diana, some great prizes are on the way to you.
Kiwi women obviously know their rugby. Our very own Associate Editor, the Rhodes-based, Kiwi-born Colleen Morgan (born in fact on 17 March, St Patrick’s Day as Colleen Theresa Maria Morgan) asked last week if she could enter. “Afraid not,” we replied, “It wouldn’t look good if we won our own competition.”
And indeed with her prediction of a 21-12 triumph for the All Blacks, Colleen would have strolled to victory with a differential of just 3. A consolation bottle of Matua Sauvignon Blanc is coming your way Colleen.
Thanks to our sponsors, to all those who entered and to the great rugby players of New Zealand and Ireland for two outstanding matches.
Bernard Walsh of Walsh Whiskey Distillery kindly donated two of the company’s outstanding Irish whiskeys. One is The Irishman 12yo Single Malt; the other the company’s newest expression, the Writers’ Tears Red Head.
It’s going to be some liquid celebration for Diana as she also wins three bottles of the superb 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.
Dubliner David Spillane, Founder & Owner of Global Travel Retail Sales, who was at the match on Saturday, offered a beautiful silver fern (New Zealand’s and the All Blacks’ national symbol) piece of Waterford jewellery (David’s company handles the classic Irish brand in travel retail).
Reflecting our Kiwi/Irish joint ownership, The Moodie Davitt Report chipped in with three bottles of Hunter’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (Hunter’s was founded by Irishman Ernie Hunter, tragically killed in 1987 in a car accident, since when his widow Jane has done a magnificent job in establishing the company right at the top of the New Zealand wine-making ladder).
To accompany all the wine and vodka, Diana can also celebrate the sweet taste of Kiwi success with The Butlers Chocolate Platinum Collection (not even on shelf yet in duty free) courtesy of the Irish chocolate house’s Sales Director Karl Marnane.
And hey, while Diana is holding the mother of all celebratory parties, she can even wear an All Blacks jumper, courtesy of Adidas at Auckland Airport (and Auckland Airport General Manager – Retail and All Blacks supporter Richard Barker).
Last but definitely not least, Treasury Wine Estates chipped in with six bottles of its fabulous Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (Matua was named New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London this month).