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The All Blacks team to play Ireland in the Rugby World Cup Quarterfinal match at Tokyo Stadium.
It was the day that changed the dynamic between Ireland and the All Blacks forever. The day Joe Schmidt’s men lifted a 111-year curse. And a major reason why they will face New Zealand at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo on Saturday night with genuine belief.
Soldier Field, Chicago, Nov 5, 2016. Until that day, Ireland had played the All Blacks 28 times in more than a century and had never won. It was the day that all changed. “With the record we had against New Zealand up to that point, there was always that doubt, that feeling, how do you get past that roadblock that is beating the All Blacks?”
The words belong to Conor Murray. The Munster scrum-half is one of the longest-standing members of the squad. He was part of the Ireland team stuffed 60-0 by the All Blacks in Hamilton in 2012, the year before Schmidt took over. He was in Ireland teams who had suffered agonising last-gasp defeats, such as the one the following autumn when Ryan Crotty scored a heartbreaker in Dublin in the final minute.
But Murray recalls there was a sense in the camp that week that things might be different. “That day in Chicago, we were excited, confidence levels were up.”
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* Sexton, Murray start for Ireland
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* Download Stuff’s RWC wallchart
* RWC results and pool standings
History had already been made that week in the Windy City, with the Chicago Cubs ending a drought almost as long as Ireland’s by winning baseball’s World Series after 108 years. Millions of fans turned out for the victory parade the night before the rugby.
It was a charged atmosphere for an Ireland team still grieving following the sudden death of forme
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