Tuesday 8 November 2016

Sensational Irish Rugby Victory

Guinness Series:

Ireland 40; New Zealand 29

Last Saturday afternoon, on 5 November 2016, the Irish Rugby team achieved one of the greatest victories in Irish sporting history when they defeated the supreme aristocrats of the game, New Zealand's All Blacks, with a score line of 40 points to 29. This victory was achieved after 111 years of trying and ended New Zealand's current 18-game winning streak.

It is typical of an Irish team to achieve something spectacular when least expected. For me, this was reminiscent of Ronnie Delany's 1956 Olympic gold medal win in Melbourne, Australia and Tipperary's 2011 All-Ireland Minor Football win over Dublin.

The venue of last Saturday's game was also significant. Soldier Field is home to the Chicago Bears and is one of the Windy City's most famous landmarks. It was also one of the prime venues during the "Golden Age of Sports". On September 23, 1927, it hosted the epic Jack Dempsey/Gene Tunney heavyweight boxing rematch featuring the controversial long count as a crowd of 104,000 looked on. Having knocked down Tunney, Dempsey went to the wrong corner. By the time the referee directed him to the neutral corner, five seconds had passed before the count started. Tunney, the champ, got up at 9 (which should have been 14) and went on to defeat Dempsey.

In 1944, at the height of World War II, Soldier Field hosted 150,000 spectators for a wartime visit by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and, in 1962, thousands turned up at the same venue to hear evangelist Billy Graham. Soldier Field was also the birthplace of the first Special Olympic Games in 1968.

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