Forty years after Munster’s historic defeat of the All Blacks, Alan English, the author behind Stand up and Fight, jokingly worried whether the recent good-fortune Ireland have held against New Zealand may dull the legend of that landmark win.
Appearing on Off the Ball for this afternoon’s Sunday Paper Review show, English reflected on the writing of a book that wonderfully captures Munster’s memorable win and the individuals and circumstances that enabled it.
Before Ireland’s defeats of the All Blacks in Chicago and Dublin, that 12-0 win signalled the only real mark of dominance an Irish rugby outfit held against a New Zealand outfit. As far as English was concerned, some of that ’78 Munster side may well have been as happy had things stayed that way.
Reflecting on the 30th anniversary test between both sides in 2008, English recalled how certain members of that vintage side were a little concerned with how little separated the sides on the scoreboard.
“In the updated edition [of the book], there’s a little cameo where all the players are in the new East Stand in 2008 [for] the game against the All Blacks,” English explained.
“Munster were of course leading with five minutes to go, and Moss Keane said, ‘I hope they hold on, we’ve had enough of this bloody thing now.’
“Whereas Gerry McLoughlin said he was cheering for Munster, but there was a little part of him holding back.
“Ultimately, I think they were probably pleased that they were the only Munster team to have done it.”
In a revealing look at the history behind Munster’s historic win, English did suggest that in spite of these minor reservations ten-year-ago, the class of ’78 were pleased when Joe Schmidt’s Ireland finally managed to overcome the All Blacks.