Rugby World Cup: The shared beers that show mutual respect between All Blacks, Ireland before quarter-final clash

Sharing a beer after a test match is one of the foundations the game of rugby has been built on.

The relationship between the All Blacks and Ireland is no different, as the two prepare to meet in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday (NZ time).

Since 2016, Ireland have consistently caused the All Blacks the most trouble, winning four of the last six encounters between the two sides.

Ireland given a guard of honour after defeating the All Blacks in 2022.
Ireland given a guard of honour after defeating the All Blacks in 2022. Photo credit: Photosport

In 2019, the All Blacks ended Ireland's quest for a first World Cup title at the same stage of the tournament in Japan, but last year, Ireland got their own back, winning a series on NZ soil for the first time.

Naturally, with such a competitive rivalry cemented, both sides would be forgiven if there was no love lost between the two camps.

However, events after that third and decisive Irish victory at Wellington highlight the ongoing respect between Ireland and the All Blacks.

"Rugby's one of those games where, when you go onto the field, you go to beat the crap out of each other for 80 minutes," explained Ireland lock Tadhg Beirne. "When you step off it, you're happy to grab a beer with your opposite number and enjoy the moments after it.  

"That's no different with New Zealand. One thing I remember from New Zealand was, after the last test, we'd beaten them and we ran out of beer pretty quickly.

Ireland celebrate their 2022 series win over the All Blacks.
Ireland celebrate their 2022 series win over the All Blacks. Photo credit: Photosport

"The New Zealand squad were pretty quick to bring in their beer and leave us to continue celebrating. That's respect too, off-field respect.

"It'll be no different on Saturday. We're both going to go at each other for 80 minutes, then be very happy to walk into the changeroom and have a beer with them, for sure."

The two sides will meet again in another chapter of what's quickly become the game's standout match-up. More than one All Blacks career will go on the line, with several players calling time on their test days after 2023.

One of those is Aaron Smith, who could bookend his career against the men in green, after making his debut against the same opposition in 2012.

While onfield tensions may come to a head, Smith doubles down on the respect between the two sides.

"There's a mutual respect there, for sure," said Smith. "There's a lot of experience in both groups, guys who've played each other a lot.

"There'll be a little bit of mingling, but I think everyone knows the stakes of what's riding on this game.

"In 2019, there was quite good camaraderie afterwards. I wouldn't call it a hatred or anything like that.  

"There's a definite mutual respect between two proud nations."

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