Pat Lam Says Ireland Can Now Compete With New Zealand & Here’s Why
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Ireland broke a 111 year duct on Saturday.
After 29 attempts, Joe Schmidt’s men finally created history and defeated the mighty All Blacks. Not only did they beat them, they beat them in convincing fashion, running out 40-29 winners, bagging five tries on their way to a memorable victory.
Pat Lam is a kiwi who’s been coaching in Ireland for the past few seasons, leading Connacht to a sensational PRO12 title last season, against all odds. He joins the likes of Rob Penney and Joe Schmidt himself who coached Leinster before he took the Ireland job, on a list of New Zealand coaches who have all found success in Ireland in recent years.
While New Zealand is still stunned by the victory, one kiwi isn’t and that kiwi is Connacht’s Pat Lam.
“I’m not surprised at all (about the Chicago result). It comes down to the structure and everyone doing their bit” Pat Lam said on radio in New Zealand.
“One of the lessons from the review of the last (full) World Cup was the need to build depth. Joe has done that.”
“I was actually on a live TV panel here and they asked me before the game if I thought Ireland had a chance. I said yes because I knew Joe would have a plan.”
Lam claims that over the last few years Irish rugby has been on a mission to attempt to “mirror” the structure of New Zealand rugby, and due to the strong Kiwi influence within Irish rugby, the national team is now able to compete with the All Blacks.
“There was already a big Kiwi influence here when I first arrived here,” said Lam.
“Joe had obviously had big success at Leinster in changing their mindset, Rob Penney was at Munster, Mark Anscombe was at Ulster and then I arrived and picked up the west of Ireland.
One of the things that they looked at when they looked at New Zealand was what grows the game, and accepting that it is the All Blacks being successful because it funds the game and inspires kids around the country.
“Over here, there are still traditional people who want the Leinster’s and Munster’s to be number one but the reality is you can’t beat the English and French clubs with their big owners. And we are centrally contracted by the Irish RFU so there does need to be a focus on that national team.”
Is Pat Lam right? Are Ireland heading in the right direction? Only time will tell.