The heat between New Zealand and Ireland has been turned up a notch with the claim that the All Blacks “don’t much care” for Johnny Sexton’s conduct.
The All Blacks will take on Ireland in the second World Cup quarter-final in Paris on Saturday night, looking to take a significant step to reclaiming the Webb Ellis Cup.
While New Zealand went unbeaten for 111 years in this fixture, a real rivalry has been fostered as Ireland have won three of the last four matches against the All Blacks.
That included a series victory in New Zealand, which saw Ireland climb up to number one in the world rankings, a status they have not surrendered since.
However, in a column for the New Zealand Herald, rugby writer Gregor Paul argued that Ireland’s excellent run under Andy Farrell has made them “ungracious”, comparing them to the Will Carling-captain England side of the late 1980s and early 90s.
“This Ireland team have perhaps become the new England, as their prolonged stretch as No 1 in the world rankings may be fostering a culture of entitlement,” Paul wrote.
Paul went on to list specific examples, including a tackle from Irish prop Andrew Porter which broke All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick’s cheekbone in the third Test of the 2022 series, Peter O’Mahony calling All Blacks captain Sam Cane a “s**t Richie McCaw” and Johnny Sexton’s ban for abusing a match official.
“O’Mahony’s comment lacked class and respect, while Johnny Sexton has seemingly come to see his status as the global game’s elder statesman and captain of the world’s best team as a licence to berate officials and belittle opponents.
“Some may find his passion admirable and judge his behaviour a sign of his depth of commitment to win, but it’s obvious that the All Blacks may have the deepest respect for his talent, but they don’t much care for the way he conducts himself.”
Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP