US President Joe Biden was redfaced after confusing the All Blacks rugby team with the Black and Tans, a notorious group of British reserve troops known for their brutality during the Irish War of Independence from 1919 to 1921.
The 80-year-old is currently in Ireland and spoke at a pub in Dundalk on Wednesday as he paid tribute to a distant relative, former Irish fullback Rob Kearney.
Biden publicly thanked Kearney for offering a draw and referenced Ireland’s famous 40-29 victory over the All Blacks in Chicago in 2016.
At the time, it was the country’s first-ever victory over the global rugby powerhouse.
“This was given to me by one of these guys, here, who was a great rugby player,” Biden said.
US President Joe Biden is left red-faced after confusing the All Blacks with the Black and Tans, a group of British reserve troops known for their brutality during the Irish War of Independence
It’s safe to say the All Blacks don’t want to be compared to the infamous figures of Irish history (centre of picture, star New Zealand fly-half Beauden Barrett)
A convoy of Black and Tans pictured in Dublin in 1921 during the War of Independence
“He (Kearney) has beaten the Black and Tans down like crazy,” Biden said, his words resulting in fits of laughter from the crowd.
The Black and Tans were notorious for attacks on civilians, extrajudicial killings, arson and looting last century.
After the embarrassing blunder, it wasn’t long before Biden was berated on social media.
The biggest gift Ireland wanted from Joe Biden was a signature blunder. And… didn’t he just give us one for the century,” comedian Oliver Callan tweeted.
Another commenter tweeted, “I assume Biden meant the All Blacks, but people say things like this when they have dementia.”
A third spoke for many when he posted “absolute comedy gold.”
Joe Biden is photographed Wednesday at Windsor Bar in Dundalk, Ireland with Foreign Secretary and Defense Secretary Michael Martin
Biden is pictured welcoming his relative, Irish rugby star Rob Kearney, to the White House to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day last month
Kearney (left) celebrates Ireland’s first ever defeat of the All Blacks – a 40-29 game win at Soldier Field in Chicago in 2016
Biden was also widely mocked after mispronouncing his distant relative’s last name.
He referred to the former No. 15 as ‘Keer-ney’, with the correct Irish pronunciation being ‘Kar-ney’.
While some felt Biden’s comment was an obvious blunder, others thought it was a Freudian oversight — and a nod from Biden to his reported pro-Ireland sentiments.
Former Democratic Unionist party leader Arlene Foster said on the eve of his arrival that the US president “hates the UK,” forcing Biden’s senior aide, Amanda Sloat, to insist he was “not anti-British.”
Yet Biden’s reference to the Black and Tans has only served to reinforce the idea of his pro-nationalist stance.
Whether intentionally or not, his obfuscation of history also had a dark side.
The Black and Tans were a notorious group of agents recruited to help the British cause during the Irish War of Independence – the battle between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the British Armed Forces of 1919-1921.
The ceasefire of July 1921 divided the island, with Northern Ireland remaining under British control and the South gaining independence.
The Black and Tans – officially part of the Royal Irish Constabulary – were a group of 10,000 men recruited from Britain to try and defeat the IRA.
Sir Hamar Greenwood of the Royal Irish Constabulary inspects a group of Black and Tans in January 1921. The Black and Tans were notorious for their brutality in their quest to prevent Ireland from gaining independence from Britain
A suspected member of the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein is searched at gunpoint by the Black and Tans in November 1920
Members of the Black and Tans are depicted in Dublin in the early 1920s wielding Lewis machine guns
Their name was derived from their uniforms: a mix of the dark green of the RIC, which looked black, and the light brown color of the British Army.
Their fighting was so fierce that it was rumored that they had been recruited from British prisons.
They were known for their brutality and carrying out reprisals against civilians they believed supported the IRA.
Public opinion in the UK and Ireland widely disapproved of their actions.
The unit was disbanded in 1922, but to this day the name Black and Tan remains short for excessive force.