• Ireland Can Take Over Top Rugby Spot While New Zealand Slumbers

    For the players on the All Blacks, that must smell of alcohol and Old Spice is coming from the breath of the Irish players, who have closed the gap on New Zealand and now sit just outside the world number one ranking.

    The gap between one and two has shrunken from 3.46 to 1.37 points and Ireland could take the top spot during the next Six Nations.

    The Irish beat the All Blacks for the first time in 111 years of trying in Chicago in 2016 and many dismissed the outcome as an anomaly, predicting it would require another century of effort to produce another victory.

    The Irish are a pugnacious lot, however, and 100 years is a grain in the hourglass for a country that fought for over 800 years to gain its independence.

    It took only two years for the Irish lads to beat the All Blacks for a second time. The singular facet in this instance was that the recent win in Dublin was the first time they had ever beaten New Zealand in Ireland.

    As things now stand, New Zealand is staring squarely at the prospect of being dethroned as world number one for the first time in nine years.

    There is something of an air of inevitability to it, as New Zealand is taking the summer off, so Ireland can earn the points necessary to take over at the top during their defense of the Six Nations trophy.

    The irony is that the Irish found their form, the form that has found them winning 17 of their last 18 Tests since Kiwi Joe Schmidt took over as Ireland’s coach five years ago.

    Schmidt had a limited playing career, plying amateur rugby in Ireland during the 1990s, but he must have been a keen student of the game, guiding Ireland to three Six Nations titles and two wins over the All Blacks.