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Seven reasons to back Ireland

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OPINION: Rugby relations between the All Blacks and Ireland have survived a few crises.

Two of the main issues were triggered by the All Blacks, and largely, if not completely, forgiven by the Irish.

In 1991 most of the Irish crowd cheered for Australia when they beat the All Blacks in Dublin in a world cup semifinal. Why? Because the '91 All Blacks were too often arrogant and rude to outsiders. Lock Ian Jones would later say, "I'm embarrassed to think back on how we dealt with the public and the media." By contrast, on the Saturday morning before the Sunday semifinal, in the usual throng of shoppers in Grafton St in Dublin, appeared the full Australian team. Captain Nick Farr-Jones stopped briefly to talk. I asked "What are you guys doing?" He grinned. "Just making sure the Irish fans are barracking for us tomorrow mate."

Much more serious was the injury to 2005 Lions' captain, Irish hero Brian O'Driscoll, in the first test in Wellington, when he was upended by Keven Mealamu and All Black captain, Tana Umaga. O'Driscoll's shoulder was damaged so badly he was out of the rest of the tour. The burying of the hatchet this week may have taken 13 years, but as O'Driscoll said in Dublin this week "I hope it (the controversy) is dead now."

* Umaga, BOD bury........

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