Ireland fielded a starting team that contained no less than 12 Leinster players, with one each from Connacht, Ulster and Munster and bombarded the New Zealanders to such an extent that the 29-20 win flattered the visitors on the scoreboard.
The dominance was the third time Ireland have beaten New Zealand in the past five years and adds spice ahead of their tour in July 2022 to the Land of the Long White Cloud, as well as reminding many they are genuine contenders for the Rugby World Cup in 2023, where they are in the same pool as the Springboks.
But while the country celebrated the victory, the Leinster influence was clear to see in the style of play as the men from Dublin racked up five wins from five in the opening rounds of the Vodacom URC and have a massive 24 out of 25 possible points in the competition thus far.
There may have been some consternation in South African circles as the Vodacom Bulls fell to them in round one of the tournament, but on Saturday, although the jerseys were green, it put matters into a lot more perspective on the strength of Irish club rugby, which continues to dominate in the URC.
The stats don’t lie either, as Leinster leads every department there as well, with the most points scored (160), most offloads (60), defenders beaten (132), tries scored (23), metres gained (2728) and clean breaks (33) after five rounds of the competition.
Leinster’s James Lowe, who scored against the country of his birth, described it as a ground-breaking victory for Ireland.
“We put in a performance against the world’s best and came out on top,” he said.
“You don’t get to play against New Zealand very often. I have never played against New Zealand (until now).
“There were a few key moments that determined the outcome of the game. I’ll cherish the win. We’re playing the way rugby should be played.
“To play against the best team, the way they probably play the game and to beat them at their own game in a lot of ways, it’s huge for the confidence.
“I feel like people will be now like, ‘that’s not the Ireland of old, the box-kick Ireland’ – it’s playing off the cuff, pretty tight shapes, make defenders make decisions.
“It’s huge and it’s what we want to carry on doing.”
Lowe said Ireland would continue to play positive and carve out their own identity as they count down to being in South Africa and Scotland’s RWC pool in 2023.
“We’ve got our own identity and it’s great,” he said.
“We played footy and won. We didn’t play negative footy. We are not going to take a backwards step now.
“The amount of trust that we have throughout this team, the boys performing at the highest level, we can’t take a backward step.”
Lowe was one of three New Zealand-born players in the Ireland team, with Bundee Aki (Connacht) and Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster) also facing the country of their birth. But it was an experience he enjoyed in facing the All Blacks.
“(There was) confusion, there was a sense of pride to be able to stand in front of the haka, there was a sense of stress," he said.
“I spent a lot of time with a lot of those boys, some of my best friends, people I’ve lived with, seriously admire in terms of who they are as people, what they represent.
“I got to stand there and have a good old chinwag with a lot of the boys. I’ve got best mates on both sides of the fence. They were happy for me, I was happy for them, but it’s rugby at the end of the day.”
Next week the teams return to Vodacom URC action, and Ireland’s strength, so clear on display, will have to deal with the chasing pack as they aim to keep their dominance of the tournament.