By the way, I’m not talking about the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series.
Rather, this long-awaited victory happened days after the Cubbies’ championship. Saturday’s international rugby clash at Soldier Field between Ireland and New Zealand marked the first time ever that the boys in green defeated the All Blacks. That’s 111 years and 29 Test matches.
The All Blacks have a global reputation as a rugby powerhouse, and deservedly so. Out of 549 Test matches going back to 1903, their winning percentage is better than 75 percent. The first time they met Ireland, on Nov. 25, 1905, at storied Lansdowne Road in Dublin, the All Blacks handed them a 15-0 defeat and never looked back. Ireland’s come close just once – a 10-10 draw in 1973 – until Saturday’s 40-29 win on mutually foreign soil before the largest-ever crowd for a rugby match in the United States.
Ireland is hardly an underdog in international rugby, but the narrative was a given: The All Blacks would hand the Irish their lunch as usual.
In fact, Ireland dominated nearly the entire match, playing an aggressive offense and a mostly drum-tight defense. At one point well into the second half, Ireland led New Zealand by 22 points; had the Irish held onto that lead – not to be, as a six-minute scoring surge by New Zealand narrowed the gap to four – it would have been the All Blacks worst international defeat in its history.
So, in 80 minutes of play on the pitch, the narrative was rewritten. Suddenly, the haka-wielding All Blacks are no longer indomitable. Suddenly, the Irish side is no longer ineffectual against its down-under rival.
Of course, the aforementioned Cubs did a similar rewrite last week, ending their 108-year championship drought in an extra-inning nail-biter. Ultimately, a well-executed, determined victory can recast the tale.
Such is true among organizations. A commitment to saying and doing the right thing in the right way accomplishes much in the face of naysayers. The challenge is to be consistent. It wasn’t a single play on the pitch that won the victory for Ireland. It wasn’t a storied, grand-slam homer that sealed the crown for the Cubs. It was a relentless determination to stay focused and true to their respective missions.
As communicators, our job is to champion the good, advocate for the right, connect with the audience and develop every opportunity to drive the narrative.