Munster 12-0 All Blacks – 40 Years On
On this date 40 years ago 15 men from Munster played under captain Donal Caniffe and coach Tom Kieran in Thomond Park against a touring All Blacks side and defeated them 12-0. I can confirm that I was not one of the 100,000 people who claimed to have been there as I was welcomed into the world 12 years later….
All this author can go on is photos and old archive footage with the famous commentary from the Fred Cogley. Of course a play was penned by Alan English who also wrote a book named Alone It Stands.
This two pieces bring to life that never to be forgotten day on October 31st 1978. New Zealand were unbeaten until on that tour and Munster were the only side to beat them and not alone that, they kept them scoreless which was a huge achievement.
Hearing all the different stories that have gone down in folklore, like the coat that was tossed into the air when Christy Cantillion crashed over for his try, I don’t think we will ever know did the coat hit the ground again. I doubt it mattered in light of the result. Tony Ward also contributed points to the cause including a drop goal and a penalty.
Donal Caniffe received devastating news at the conclusion of the game that his father had passed away during the game. He made his way to Cork while his team mates celebrated a momentous victory. This story was very well told in Alan English’s play “Alone It Stands “ So many people claimed to have been there on the day in question but only around 12,000 souls actually made it into the game.
The match ball was rescued by touch judge’s Martin Walsh and John Cole and in the days following the match John received a bill from the Munster Branch for £3 and 8 shillings to replace the match ball, not a bad bill to get given the result of the game.
In 2008, Munster faced the All Blacks on the 30th anniversary of that famous day. On that occasion this author was in the crowd and the match ball was presented to the captain in 1978 Donal Caniffe after being delivered by an Air Corps Helicopter.
Then the teams entered the stage and Munster who had 4 New Zealanders in there squad on the evening, stepped out and led by Rua Tipoki alongside Doug Howlett , Jeremy Manning and Lifimi Mafi and roared on by 26,000 hardy souls they performed a very special Haka to tell New Zealand they were in for a fight and so it proved as only for a late Joe Rokocoko try to cancel out a Munster try by Barry Murphy along with points from Paul Warwick who played at out half.
To the men of 1978 and 2008, well done for keeping the proud tradition of Munster’s never say die attitude alive in both games…..