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Winning streak not even an afterthought for ambitious Ireland

rugby world cup 2023 ireland training
Ireland's Joe McCarthy and Andrew Porter during training

With so much on the line in the World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand on Saturday, the fact that Ireland could match the top tier record for successive test wins has flown completely under the radar this week.

Andy Farrell’s team go into the Stade de France clash on a 17-match winning streak going back to the first test in the three-match series against New Zealand last July, a run that includes a Six Nations Grand Slam.

A third win over the All Blacks in the last 16 months on Saturday would give the Irish a share of the top tier record of 18 matches along with the New Zealand side of 2015 to 2016 and the England team of 2015 to 2017.

With top-ranked Ireland looking to end their record of never having won a World Cup knockout match and desperate to keep alive their hopes of winning the Webb Ellis Cup, however, the winning run has not even been discussed.

“To be honest, no, it’s never spoken about in our sort of circles,” Ireland assistant coach Mike Catt told reporters on Friday.

“Stuff like that, like world rankings, all that sort of stuff, it doesn’t really come into the equation. It’s about us and a performance that we need to be proud of.”

If it were not for Ireland, the record streak might even be longer.

It was the Irish that ended New Zealand’s winning run with a first victory over the All Blacks in 111 years of trying courtesy of a 40-29 win in Chicago in November 2016.

England’s run continued only until they came up against Ireland in the final round of the 2017 Six Nations and lost 13-9 in Dublin to be denied a Grand Slam.

Even if they win on Saturday, Ireland will still have a way to go to match the overall international record of the Cyprus team that won 24 straight matches from 2008 until they were beaten by Latvia in November 2014.

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