"I hate that game" - Keith Wood recalls Ireland's 2001 loss to the All Blacks

Former Ireland captain on a match which Ireland led 21-7 at one point

BY Raf Diallo 20:59 Wednesday 2 November 2016, 20:59 2 Nov 2016

Keith Wood after the game ©INPHO/Andrew Paton

Keith Wood says Ireland's 2001 defeat to New Zealand is a particular sore memory given how the match ultimately played out. 

The former Ireland captain was part of the side which held a strong lead over the All-Blacks before falling short 40-29 that November.

The match is also remembered for being the debut of future two-time World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw for the All Blacks.

The fact that Ireland couldn't hold on stirs not so positive memories for Keith as he looked back on some of his experiences against New Zealand.

"I hate that game. I look back at it as the best rugby that an Irish team had played when I was involved with Ireland up to that stage. We just looked sharp, focused, accurate until about 20 minutes to go and then we just disintegrated," he said on Off The Ball.

"We had no defensive structure at that stage. By the time with 20 minutes to go, we were all shattered. We had put so much in. We were 14 points up, 21-7 up, absolutely on fire and we had a chance to score close to their line.

Keith Wood in that 2001 match ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

"We still should have won that game. We still should have finished that game. I found it one of the most disappointing results ever."

With more defensive structure, Keith believes that match would not have been one that got away from Ireland. 

"We just didn't have a defensive coach at that stage and we were tired because of the amount of effort we put in. We just didn't get it for the last 10-15 minutes," said Keith.

He is also impressed by the current New Zealand team and feels they could even be better than the team which retained the World Cup in the autumn of 2015.

"I just think they're a far better side even than the team that won the World Cup in 2015. They look very, very sharp," he said.

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