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World Cup: It's not easy being green


  • World Cup: it's not easy being green

    by SYRIANA

    The Rugby World Cup is a matter of weeks away and the various squads are being finalised by managers from Canada to New Zealand. The favourites are, predictably, New Zealand and pre-tournament speculation is rife. Every bump is an ‘injury concern’ and every twinge a possible end to the dream of world cup glory.

    Ireland is no different and questions about the fitness and form of various players have been flying since the questionable form of the Six Nations. Ireland will be desperate to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing capitulation they delivered four years ago, where they found themselves packing their bags at the end of the group phase.
    A great deal has changed since then; Ireland have a new coach, a Grand Slam to their credit and as a nation are home to both the Magners League and Heineken Cup champions…but what does that really mean in terms of Ireland’s chances? The truth is, not a lot. The form of the national team has been erratic since they won the Grand Slam. This season for example they barely scraped past Italy and Scotland, yet have recorded good wins over England and Argentina.

    Form is a serious problem. Luke Fitzgerald is a dangerous runner at his best, but his sparkle has yet to surface since his return from serious injury. Like wise Gordon Darcy, who is currently fighting to be fit enough to travel, displayed a shadow of his normal skill in the centre during his last outings in green. Injuries have taken a serious toll as well with Paul O’Connell, Jerry Flannery, Steven Ferris and Tomás O’Leary just a
    selection of player who have missed parts (or even most) of the last season. Even if they are all physically fit, how match fit are they?

    Warm up matches against Scotland and France have both resulted in losses. Not only must this be less than ideal from a confidence perspective, it highlights the limited strength in depth of the Irish squad. With two more matches remaining, there is very little time to get into the winning habit. The only positive to be taken from the recent losses is that neither match day team were full strength, but with so many questions about who will be fit and so many injuries occurring any player in the squad needs to be able to step up.

    Else where in Ireland’s pool, Australia haven’t had the build up they would really have hoped for. Two wins against a depleted Springbok team with losses to Samoa and New Zealand give very little indication of just where they are in terms of preparedness. They had a heavy loss against England on their autumn tour as well as a loss to them in the summer of 2010 when England went on tour. The Australian pack was and is vulnerable a lot of the time. Italy have had a mixed season, a Six Nations wooden spoon made sweeter by a victory over France. It would be overly optimistic to suggest that they are a serious threat, but they are far from a pushover now. The remaining teams in the pool are Russia and the USA, ranked 19th and 17th in the world respectively. Both teams have earned their places via the qualification process (unlike Ireland who qualified automatically) and neither team see regular top level games – the USA often losing to the second string sides of England and Ireland. Underestimating any team is a recipe for disaster, but in principle neither team should pose too many problems for Ireland.

    The pool favours Ireland and with the players available to coach Declan Kidney, the route to qualification to the knock out stage appears fairly clear. Yet rugby is a strange game and any team can have a win or a loss against the run of form. Ireland need to start winning, they need to cut out the errors and find their form. Can Ireland make it to the quarter finals? Absolutely...anything less would be a disaster.
    Attached Files

    • davidos
      davidos commented
      Editing a comment
      Good article and I agree with your conclusion. We should get through and under Deccie I expect we will.

      #2 commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree with davidos. Excellent article, and good conclusion. Rugby is a strange game, and the irish team is a strange team... Able of nearly all from good to desastrous. But please, no nightmare like it was 4 years ago.

    • Munster Thick & Thin
      Editing a comment
      I agree with the conclusion. Those of us at home should focus on upping our levels of preparedness for a disaster. So much has changed already since this article was written.
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