So Ireland again find themselves where so often they have been in another quarter final at a RWC. The performances of the past few weeks have shown a true consistent level of performance. They have gotten better as the weeks have progressed. From game one where they saw off Romania in empathic fashion, 82-8 to last Saturday evening where they dispatched Scotland 36-14.
This is the week where the wheels of an Irish RWC bid have come away previously but one really hopes that the ghosts of previous campaigns can finally be laid to rest and consigned to the history books. Like Japan 4 years ago its New Zealand for the 2nd quarter final in a row and with the draw happening 3 years ago, It was almost lined up that these sides would meet again.
Since that game, Ireland have beaten New Zealand 3 times. Winning a 3 game series 2-1 in New Zealand in the summer of 2022 and also defeating them in Dublin in November 2021. So the RWC loss of 2019 has long since been consigned to the bin.
It’s an awful record in the knock out phase of World Cup’s that Ireland has, never being passed a quarter final since the first edition of 1987. It truly is a terrible record. But this group look even better equipped than the last squad tipped to really have a shot at breaking the RWC duck in 2007.
Andy Farrell has been there and done it in rugby league as a player and now in union as a coach with England, the B&I Lions and in recent years with Ireland. He has created a real family atmosphere in the squad and it is great to see an Irish team play with smiles on the faces rather than the usual look of dread you see…
It’s time now for the poor RWC record to be ended for once and for all. Yes it’s New Zealand in another quarter final and of course New Zealand will be out to avenge the series defeat on home soil but Ireland have their own reasons for wanting to add another W in the column beside the name of New Zealand in the IRFU win/loss board.
Injuries have come up with a few players carrying knocks like James Lowe, Mack Hansen and James Ryan. The IRFU will provide updates on those available to Andy Farrell and his coaches during the week.
We saw Ireland playing with a real swagger and also a ruthless edge that has long been needed by those wearing green… Now we need to see it come out again against New Zealand. The aura of New Zealand being unbeatable is long gone contrary to what any New Zealand pundit may say. They still are a fearsome proposition for any side but South Africa beat them before the World Cup and France did likewise to kick start their own quest for RWC glory on October 28th.
It will be a tough assignment for Ireland but most certainly not mission impossible…. This woeful RWC record has to end at some stage and why not on Saturday evening in St Denis !!
The other thing that I wanted to touch on is this so called lack of support for the Irish rugby team. Not all Irish rugby supporters come from within striking distance of RTE studios in Dublin 4. There is plenty of support for them outside the “Pale”. I know only too well being from Kerry that rugby will always play second fiddle to the GAA or most other sports. This one upmanship and sniping has to end. This team is an All Ireland team with players from all four corners and contrary to this “Silver spoon” thinking, it really isn’t a sport played only by D4 schools. It is played again in all four corners of Ireland.
I could go on by let’s see can they do what others have failed and win a World Cup quarter final and make the much talked about step and make a World Cup semi final. The game will kick off at 8pm next Saturday and as one man said last night it is a huge moment for Irish rugby. History beckons……