In 1978 the Irish team Munsters defeated the All Blacks - a defining moment in rugby which passed into sporting legend.
When it comes to rugby union, one team has always stood a lock forward taller than the rest. To their opponents of the 1920s they were 'the Invincibles', to generations of British and Irish players they were literally indomitables - to the rest of the world they're simply the All Blacks. So when Graham Mourie's team left New Zealand in 1978 for the northern hemisphere no one believed they could be beaten. And then they lost. Not to the Wales of J P R Williams or to a Barbarians' select XV, but to a ragged provincial team from the south of Ireland: Munster. More than one hundred thousand people claim to have been there when Munster beat the All Blacks 12-0 at Thomond Park, Limerick, even though the ground could hold only 12,000. The New Zealanders would go on to won 17 of their 18 matches on tour, but against Munster they were, in their own words, 'lucky to get nil'. Munster's win remains the best and most unlikely result ever achieved by an Irish rugby team - and arguably by any rugby team in the world. Only a few minutes of grainy footage of the match survive, captured by a single handheld camera, but it has long since passed into legend.
Now Alan English tells us the real story of what happened that day in October 1978, through the eyes of those who there and those who made it happen. The day Munster beat the All Blacks is now part of rugby mythology, yet the truth is more compelling than the fiction.
- Publication Date:
- 01 / 07 / 2005