RWC Team Preview: Ireland

Rugby World Cup Pedigree:
Ireland have been off form for the most part of this year. The only game where they showed what they can really do was the 24-8 defeat of England in the final game of the Six Nations to deny England a Grand Slam. Since then they have lost all four of their warm-up games to Scotland, France (home and away) and England. While there has been much improvements in the forward play, the back line seems to be bereft of ideas and any penetration.

Track Record:
Ireland don’t have much of a track record in the World Cup, they have reached the quarter finals but never progressed beyond that stage four times. The only significant record they hold is the top points scorer of the tournament for Ralph Keyes the Irish fly-half. After a dismal 2007 World Cup in France, Ireland will be looking to make amends.

Best Rugby World Cup moment:
The most iconic moment for the Irish team in previous World Cups came in the ’91 quarter final against Australia, Gordon Hamilton scored a try to put Ireland ahead by 3 points with 5 minutes on the clock. Ireland did not seal the win as a quick tap penalty from Michael Lynagh led to him to score the winning try in the dying seconds leaving 40,000 heartbroken Irish fans wondering what happened!

Biggest Rugby World Cup win: 64-7 (v Namibia 2003)
Biggest Rugby World Cup defeat: 19-43 (v New Zealand 1995)

Key Player:
The Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll is heading into his fourth and final World Cup. O’Driscoll remains one of the greatest centres in world rugby to this day. He made his 100th appearance for Ireland against Wales in the 2010 RBS 6 Nations, has led Ireland to four Triple Crowns (in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009) as well as a Championship and Grand Slam.

One to Watch:
The ‘Tullow Tank’, Sean O’Brien has been in devastating for over the last two seasons. He picked up the ERC player of the Year 2011 after a barnstorming Heineken Cup run with Leinster. He is the complete back rower, combining awesome strength with speed and agility. The Carlow man started all nine of Leinster’s Heineken Cup matches, picking up three man-of-the-match awards, and was also first choice for Ireland for all their games in the Six Nations, being named man-of-the-match against Italy.

Rugby World Cup Fixtures:
11/09 – 07:00 BST v USA, New Plymouth
17/09 – 09:30 BST v Australia, Auckland
25/09 – 07:00 BST v Russia, Rotorua
02/10 – 09:30 BST v Italy, Dunedin

Key Clash:
As mentioned in our Australia preview a few days back, the key clash in Pool C is Ireland v The Wallabies. The winner of this game will surely top the pool and likely to face Fiji/Tonga/Wales in a quarter final. Ireland will have to contain the mercurial Australian back line of Genia, Cooper, O’Connor and Beale.

Odds: 40/1 to win the World Cup outright and 3/1 to win their pool.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney says:
Kidney is adamant that losing four warm-up games should not create a sense of negativity around Ireland’s preparations:
“If you don’t win it you are disappointed. But at times you have to see a bigger picture, see where you’re going. While we’re disappointed with our losses against England and France, I’d like to feel that if we had to play them again in five or six weeks’ time we’ll have learned from this experience and we’ll be the better for it.”

Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll says:
“This is my last one, I’m not going to look back in five or 10 years and wish that I’d been into it a bit more. I will enjoy the next six, hopefully, seven weeks and, hopefully, create some new memories along the way”
O’Driscoll is keen to point out the World Cup has not started yet: “We weren’t playing in the World Cup. The World Cup is our next game, We’ve a big two weeks ahead of us.”

It all boils down to the crucial game against Australia. A win means an easier path to the semi’s. So far we have not seen anything to expect Ireland to win that game, so, I predict a quarter final exit.

Position: Quarter final exit.

by Conor Buckley

12 thoughts on “RWC Team Preview: Ireland

  1. It hasn’t been the ideal preparation for Ireland, but I’m still optimistic. I was quite confident that they could beat the Aussies in the pool, but they’ve just beaten the All Blacks and Ireland have lost four in a row!

    That’s still going to be a huge game, and if they find the same sort of passion as they did against England in March, they can turn the Wallabies over.

  2. Hmmm….but Ireland never seem able to summon that passion for anyone but England and even then its normally when they are playing at home

    Given they couldn’t even manage some passion for the last match against England, despite it being at home, despite it being described by everyone as a must-win game beforehand and despite an England team that looked bereft of ideas, I would be very suprised indeed if Aus won by less than 10-20 points

    Also ireland need to avoid the banana skin that is Italy

    Which is a shame because on paper, Ireland have a great-looking squad.

    1. I have to agree. I really hope we can create an upset against Australia but that’s what it will be against Australia at this point. I believe we will beat Italy, as long as we don’t get too many injuries. The teams is well suited to play against SA and I’d fancy our chances against them before Aus. I’m less sure about Wales, but it’s certainly winnable if we were to play them.

  3. The match against England in March is much like England’s performance against Australia at Twickenham last year. No one is quite sure where it came from and everyone’s wondering if it can happen again.

    Maybe – but probably not.

    Still – O’Driscoll is a magician and brilliant for the sport. It’s going to be an exciting match.

  4. On current form, you’d expect Ireland to lose to Oz by 10-15 points and to struggle against Italy. I just can’t see us stepping up in performance in time for Australia. However, if we can keep the key personnel fit and fit some form towards the end of the group stage then we can certainly give SA a game. Unfortunately, i think our pack would take a tanking so I’d be surprised to beat SA. If we can somehow avoid SA in the QF then a SF is more than possible.

    In summary, we need to improve markedly in the first few games to even beat Italy – and if we’re missing props we could be in big diffs. However, a fully fit and performing Ireland can give most sides a game.

    With home advantage, NZ should take the title this time.

  5. Despite our dull displays recently, I would still expect us to give a complete performance against Australia. My optimism is based on the fact that we will get the breakdown area right as this was poor in our last match or two but has generally not been a major concern in the past. We also didnt take kicking chances early in the game against England and that would have helped give us a foothold on the match, this wont happen against Oz though as all available points will be taken for this match. O’Driscoll only played a bit part in the warm up games but come wc time the midfield wont look so flat with his return. The game time will stand to the likes of Kearney, Bowe, Darcy & Flannery. Remember Leinster did look invincible last season so they do have the self belief to pull it off. Running in a few tries against the usa will inject some much needed confidence and set us up nicely for the Oz tie.

  6. I agree with Rob, Ireland can lift and beat Australia Cooper can win or loose games for Australia if under pressure he makes bad decisions and puts his team under pressure . If we can contain Genia Cooper will become a liability for the Australians and we will have our way with them

  7. Ireland will qualify from the group – the warm-up games only mean so much. They can beat Australia, but most likely won’t. That leaves a probably meeting with SA in the quarters, and I just don’t think we’ll take them – in particular the line-out has been terrible, and going up against Matfield and co. you need your line-out firing on all cylinders.

  8. Ireland have been a bit lucky to have been drawn in a fairly weak pool because they have been awful during the warm ups and I reckon they’d struggle to get out of wales or scotland’s group. They’ll most likely get battered by SA in the quarters.

  9. Had big hopes for Ireland at this World Cup after the Six Nations believing that a semi final was very achievable. Have had to reaccess since the warm up because there is no evidence that we can reach the level neccessary.
    I cant see us improving enough to beat the Wallabies given their current form so that make the Italy game a playoff. If we dont suffer too many injuries especially to the front row we can see off the Italians.
    I dont think that South Africa are any great shakes and are very beatable if we get our strongest team on the field but I think we are bound to suffer some injuries to test our reserves. If Wales, Samoa or Fiji were to win the pool then we stand a brilliant chance to still get to the semi final. South Africa v Wales could prove to be the most key to Ireland World Cup fortunes and something tells me that Wales may edge it.

  10. Only a fool would show their cards weeks before the WC – England showed theirs – Kidney is no fool. Ireland’s warm ups were really about getting the squad closer to WC match fitness – wins would have been a bonus. Did the matches help France? Don’t think so, but they did help Ireland. England are probably in for a rude awaking. Ire v Aus is a five point game – anything could happen. I would back Ireland before any of the other home nations except France. But what would I know? Ire to beat Aus and win pool – QF 1 Ire to beat Wales (pool D runner up) SF 1 Ire to beat France (France undercooked due to Irish warmup games) Final – IRE v AUS – ( Aus beat SA QF 3 and NZ in SF 2) This is another five point game. Your heard it here first – It’s there for the taking. Just like my medicine – NURSE!

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