Rugby's Best of the Best to be determined #IREvNZL
Dublin , Ireland - 15 November 2018; Devin Toner during Ireland Rugby squad training at Carton House in Maynooth, Co. Kildare. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Some have been awaiting several key fixtures in 2018. Rugby matches that have more riding on them, then simply a one-off reward to the bottom line. Matches that give an indication of who is the ‘best of the best’. And this weekend, they receive that in #IREvNZL

When Ireland play New Zealand at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, it might not yet realize a change in rankings – though it will be more important in bragging rights. More in terms of the psychological advantage which either team can then use, heading into the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

It will do more for the confidence of the winning side, and reaffirm who can look to have the support of their fanbase, in the toughest rugby environment.

Rugby’s Best of the Best to be determined #IREvNZL

The judgment of how critical #IREvNZL will be, has long been suggested. Irish Rugby has bloomed over the last three years especially – in no doubt, buoyed by the first ever win over New Zealand, in Chicago on that famous day in 2016.

When Ireland beat the All Blacks, it gave rise to the nation’s promise. Too long had they only reached a Nadir – be it a semifinal at the Rugby World Cup, or in terms of competing with the All Blacks for 60-70 minutes, only to see the three-time World Champions defeat them time and time again.

No more. The rise, and rise of Ireland now means that they are a real threat to Steve Hansen and his All Blacks. No longer happy with Nadir, they wish to mount a real challenge to the number one status.

A legitimate competitor, who on Saturday could usurp New Zealand as the barometer of ‘who is the Rugby’s Best of the Best’.

The men selected (see below) will look to fulfill that promise at 19:00 GMT in Dublin.

They will meet New Zealand front-on. With as close to a fully equipped line-up, each side is going to fight to be seen as the ‘best of the best’.

High stakes rugby outcome – True Reward at RWC

Even while All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has said that this match is not for the top position in world rugby, fans will be convinced by the outcome. To be rugby’s best of the best, you must defeat New Zealand. Rory Best and his players acknowledge that – and know that a single win will still not replace the All Blacks. Yet the high stakes are undoubted.

Lay everything on the table now? Possibly not. Ireland have redefined their game; removing the emotion that blinded their challenges in the past. And New Zealand, integrating a new twin pivot game, will want to use this as one of their final tests, before the next season/next schedule of fixtures, prior to September.

What is guaranteed though, is the full attention of the rugby public; when #IREvNZL kicks off this weekend.

A single win is in fact not the prize that Irish Rugby has targeted. Win or lose on Saturday, the end-goal is in Japan. The true reward is the Rugby World Cup but…..wouldn’t their very first win on home soil feel fantastic for every supporter of the ‘Emerald Isles’.

 

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