Rory Best of Ireland celebrates with his children following his team's 40-29 victory over New Zealand at Soldier Field.
Rory Best of Ireland celebrates with his children following his team's 40-29 victory over New Zealand at Soldier Field. Phil Walter

Irish skipper pays tribute to Chicago fans after NZ upset

RUGBY UNION: Irish captain Rory Best said Chicago's river needed to be dyed green to celebrate his team's historic victory over the All Blacks at Soldier Field.

The river had been painted blue just days earlier to honour the Chicago Cubs winning baseball's World Series for the first time in 108 years.

With Ireland having waited even longer to beat New Zealand - 111 years in total - Best suggested it was time to get the buckets of dye out again.

"It felt like a home game for us,” he said of the huge support for the underdogs from the 62,000-strong crowd in Chicago. "I suppose we're going to have to dye the river green for this one.”

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen made no excuses for his side's loss, which ended their 18-Test match-winning world record run.

"The right side won,” Hansen told media. "The Irish played very well and congratulations to them. When you see their fans going like they are now, it's about time they won one anyway.

Hansen agreed that the All Blacks being without their top three locks in Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano had impacted on the team's performance.

"But we don't want to use that as an excuse,” he quickly added. "We trained well enough, we prepared well enough, we thought, but clearly we didn't get a few things right.

"They put us under pressure and deserved to win. We're not going to make any excuses about not having the right people.”

The 40-29 victory was particularly poignant given the game was preceded by a tribute to former Irish player Anthony Foley.

"We just talked about attacking New Zealand,” Best said. "We knew they are a great side. You can see how good a side they are and how much it means to our boys to have won that,” the tough hooker said.

"We just had to go out and attack them. If you give them ball and stand off them they're an unbelievably dangerous outfit.

"I couldn't be prouder of the work we've put in over the last couple of weeks. It's been a long time coming and history (has been) made. We're absolutely ecstatic.”

Hansen claimed he wasn't surprised by Ireland's fast start, nor their tenacity in hanging on to deny the fast-finishing All Blacks.

"They couldn't surprise us - the last time we played them we beat them in the 82nd minute - we'd be very foolish not to think they aren't a very good side,” he said. "When you get a good side against another good side you're going to get results like we did tonight.

"In the first half they had all the momentum didn't they. We talked before the game of not giving away avoidable penalties, but because of the pressure we did. They built momentum and then we were chasing them.”

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