TOKYO, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The awesome All Blacks did not simply smash an Ireland 15 to reach the Rugby World Cup semi-finals on Saturday — they beat an Ireland 16 by silencing a deafening crowd, New Zealand coach Steve Hansen told reporters.
“The Irish are some of the best travellers in the world, aren’t they?” Hansen smiled when asked about the reception they had got from enormous sections of the 48,000 crowd in Tokyo Stadium.
“They don’t mind going anywhere for a party and they enjoy it. It was sort of like a home match feeling, like playing them in Dublin.
“Kiwis are not quite so boisterous even if we don’t mind a party. If you do things right, you can control the crowd. If you let them in, the crowd becomes part of the problem.”
New Zealand never allowed the crowd any influence — after 20 minutes they were already two tries to the good, and simply stretched their lead as time went on, running out 46-14 winners.
Certainly they had motivation to prove a point, if any extra were needed, Hansen said, when asked if two defeats in their last three meetings with Ireland had added any spice.
“Look I don’t know if you can call it a monkey off our back,” Hansen said, “but we were reminded and reminded and reminded and reminded that we’d lost to Ireland.
“All Black champions don’t need to be reminded that they lost to Ireland. We remember our losses more than we remember the wins.”
They’ll likely remember this win for a while, though, such was their dominance over the world’s fourth-ranked team.
The victory set up a semi-final with England next Saturday where, for one of the rugby heavyweights, something will have to give. (Reporting by Ossian Shine; editing by Toby Davis)