We continue our series of articles looking at potential routes through the Rugby World Cup with Ireland.
It’s fair to say that Ireland has underachieved at the Rugby World Cup, and they’ll be keen to banish memories of 2007 when they failed to emerge from a group that also contained France and Argentina, despite high expectations before the tournament.
Ireland’s Rugby World Cup Fixtures
Sunday 11th September, Ireland v USA, New Plymouth
Saturday 17th September, Australia v Ireland, Auckland
Sunday 25th September, Ireland v Russia, Rotorua
Sunday 2nd October, Ireland v Italy, Dunedin
Whilst Italy could be a potential banana skin – particularly after their Six Nations campaign where they pushed Ireland all the way and then beat France – but all the focus in this group is on one match: Australia v Ireland on 17th September.
It’s huge, and the result is likely to determine how far each team progresses in this tournament. The winner of this pool, Pool C, will face the runner-up in Pool D in the quarter-finals, which is likely to be Wales, Fiji or Samoa – or South Africa if there’s an upset there – none of which would hold too much fear (but that’s not to say it would be an easy game). A win in the quarter-finals would take them to a likely semi against France or England, and again, Ireland has the beating of both of those sides. Could they make the final and beat the All Blacks (assuming they make it) for the first time ever and take home the Webb Ellis Cup?
Let’s not get carried away yet, since the runner-up in the pool would probably have to take on the World Champion Springboks, who would pose a much stiffer test. Ireland’s record against the Boks isn’t too good, but if they did conjure up a win, the All Blacks would probably await in the semi-finals and it’s difficult to see the Irish coming through two huge games like that, given their record against the Southern Hemisphere teams.
So, did I mention that the Australia v Ireland game in the group was huge? Declan Kidney’s side have a huge chance to put together their best Rugby World Cup campaign, but in my view, it all hinges on this match, so get behind them on the 17th and cheer them on to pool victory.
How far do you think Ireland will get in this year’s Rugby World Cup? Take the poll below and justify your selection in the comments below: