Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Guest post: The other football world cup


The following is a guest post from itwassammymcnallywhatdoneit, who well be well known among Slugger readers.  Thanks to Sammy for a great pre competition analysis.  Coincidentally I'm off to Dublin on Saturday to see the Irish team prepare for the competition with another match against France. 
On the 9th September the Rugby football world cup kicks off and for a sizeable minority on the island of Ireland this will be the major sporting event of this year – if not the last four.
Ireland, share group C with Australia, Italy, Russia and the USA and if the form book proves reliable, we will qualify as runner-ups to Australia and exit at the quarter final stage to South Africa. Rugby, doesn’t tend to do surprises and the winners, on home soil, are likely to be New Zealand, the strong bookies favourites at 8/15.

Four years ago in France, Ireland were tipped as the dark horses (and with some encouragement from the Irish camp) and then immediately set about proving wrong, those who had mistakenly placed their faith in them - almost losing to Rumania(a team largely comprised of converted Greco-Roman wrestlers) and getting thumped by France and Argentina.  
The rebranding of the proverbial underdogs clearly backfired.
So any optimism about Ireland’s fortunes will have to be kept very quiet and tempered by the knowledge that  if the players get wind of such musings they will no doubt set about falling apart all over again.
So there should be absolutely no talk at all of Ireland’s grand slam win 2 years ago, the fact that we thrashed England(world cup winners and twice finalists) in the final game of this year’s 6 Nations, have a half dozen world class players in O’Driscoll, O’Connell, Ferris, Heaslip, Bowe and O’Brien and that Irish Provincial teams have won the Heineken Cup in 4 of the last 6 years.
And there should certainly not be any discussion of the possibility that if we did beat the very talented but very inconsistent Australians that there would most likely be no further Southern Hemisphere opposition until the final.
No, arguably the most talented Irish rugby team of all time need to keep their heads down, their feet firmly on the ground and with their underdog tag securely in place head off to do battle -  and maybe, just maybe, they will surprise us.
Gwan Ireland.

19 comments:

Chekov said...

Must admit Sammy, I'm a tad worried about Italy. Wasn't comfortable in the 6 Nations last year and, as you note, Ireland's performance in world cups hasn't historically been great.

ItwasSammyMcNally said...

Chekov,

France have made 13 changes for the game on Saturday and Ireland(who probably will have very close to a full strength team) are marginal favourites - they may well win the 2 warm up games against France and England and then trip over Italy - certainly if there is any weakness in the scrum the Italians will smell blood.

A win over any French team any time is nice (and rare) and would be especially so as I think we can in theory bump into them in the World Cup.

Seymour Major said...

Six Nations form in the last World cup was no guide to England's performance and neither was the Tri Nations a guide to how New Zealand performed.

Once again, New Zealand go into the World cup as the best team. However, the gulf between them and the other rugby nations has widened since them. Part of this is down to the fact that they did not sack their manager immediately after being knocked out in the last world cup. Graham Henry seems to have brought on the NZ team to new heights.

Add to that the advantage of playing at home and the fact that their "bogey" team, France, are in their group and you have the biggest favourite since the competition began in 1987.

What about Ireland?

Ireland have the best team in the Northern Hemisphere but their side is aging. That makes it less likely that they will be able to play consistently well throughout the competition. They will therefore need to conserve themselves in the initial rounds whilst ensuring they do enough to qualify. Australia are presently weak in the scrum and I think Ireland will put a lot of their resources into beating Australia. Hopefully, they will have something left after that match to enable them to progress further.

ItwasSammyMcNally said...

Seymour,

I think your view (widely held)that Ireland have an 'aging' team is a bit overplayed, perhaps understandably because of the age and importance of our 2 most influential players - O'Driscoll and O'Connell whilst other oldstagers like O'Gara, Stringer, Wallace, Hayes are not first choice anymore.

But I do agree that it is a tad disappointing that the likes of O'Callaghan and D'arcy (who are getting on a bit) and who are arguably past their best are not under greater pressure for their places.

It may also be true that the Irish players, being under central contract and wheeled out largely for the big games in the HC and the 6N are not as aging as their miles on the clock might indicate.

ItwasSammyMcNally said...

Ireland have succeeded brilliantly in lowering expectations though may have arguably gone to far in losing all four of their warm up matches at the same time as their pool adeversaries Australia win the tri-nations. He may be able to tackle but surely D'arcy's place will have to come under pressure...

.. and hopefully David Wallace, Heaslip and Healy are ok.

Seymour Major said...

I have not been able to find any blog regarding Ireland's failure to win any World Cup warm-up match.

Perhaps that is a good thing, Sammy, because if they continue to do what you dont suggest they will do, they will not trip up over Italy.

ItwasSammyMcNally said...

Seymour,

I'm having difficulty sticking with my they-will-suprise-us theory and I'm now warming to your 'aging team' theory - it would be refreshing to see a few good young players give it a lash.

Having read the Torygraph this morning I thought Ackford had perhaps gone over the top - and then I read the Neil Francis in the Sunday Independent.

In relation to the match I thought Trimble and Earls looked dangerous at times but I think it is a mistake not taking Fitzgerald as we looked so pedestrian in attack, except in patches and luckily England didnt really ram home their advantage.

In relation to blogs on the current plight, Munsterfans.com is a really good site, well worth a look.

Ulster Rugby Man said...

From today's Irish Times

"So as we face yet another pivotal, vital and seminal moment in our history, yeah right, let us remind ourselves the Irish definition of positive thinking is being damn sure we’re going to lose.

Which of course won’t stop me believing we might just sneak it. If we really click."

ItwasSammyMcNally said...

Kidney master plan of understatement unfolding nicely, cant say I didnt doubt as it printed above that I did. Really like POC's post match comments - 'only a pool game' and 'we have won nothing'.

Since 2007, Leinster and Munster have won the HC 3 times so the team is packed with players who know how to win.


Thought D'arcy played well, but his hamstring is probably gone and it may well be O'Gara at 10 with Sexton at inside centre - Trimble may miss out again for Italy game - though Earls may be under pressure.

Thought that was Best's best ever game for Ireland and I think we finished up with 4 Ulster players on the field.

Ferris and O'Brien were outstanding as were front row and POC.

Probably only Northern Hemisphere teams blocking our way to final - with France the only one we will really fear.

Chekov said...

Although one of those 'Ulstermen' I don't get at all. Perhaps it's not being a rugby man, but the reason that Tom Court's in the squad escapes me. I know he can put in a tackle, but the guy's a front row forward and he can't scrummage!

ItwasSammyMcNally said...

Surely the most disastrous weekend for Scottish rugby since professionalism - both Scottish teams losing to Italian opposition in the RaboDirect league and international defeat which makes their making the quarters very difficult. (Possibly the first time both Italian teams winning on the same weekend?).

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Andreas Ratih said...

Illarramendi thrilled with Madrid move
Agen Bola indo11.com reported, Asier Illarramendi has lauded his “unique opportunity” after signing for Real Madrid.
The midfielder signed a six-year deal at the Bernabeu on Friday, after Madrid met the €38million release clause in his Real Sociedad contract.
And the 23-year-old insisted that he would do everything he could to live up to that lofty price-tag.
“Today is a very special day for me,” he said. “Getting the chance to play here is a very unique opportunity.
“I will give everything for this crest.as reported byIndo Eleven.
“I would like to show my appreciation to Real Sociedad and their fans for everything they’ve done for me.”
Madrid president Florentino Perez also credited Sociedad, and said Illarramendi would be well supported by the Madrid faithful.
“We are happy to welcome Asier Illarramendi to Real Madrid,” Perez said. “I would like to show my appreciation to Real Sociedad and their president for making this possible.
“The fans will support you in the good and bad times.”
Source : www.indo11.com

Eko Dinda said...

Juventus reignite interest in Kolarov
Agen Bola indo11.com reported, Juventus are ready to launch a fresh assault on Aleksandar Kolarov
General manager Giuseppe Marotta is adamant the club need to sell after signing Fernando Llorente, Carlos Tevez and Angelo Ogbonna, with Sunderland-bound Emanuele Giaccherini the first player to leave.
Strikers Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella are also nearing the exit door, but the Bianconeri are also thinking about signing a left-sided full-back.
For the time being, Juventus officials are simultaneously working on transfer of Aleksandar Kolarov and Camilo Zuniga, hoping to sign one of the two players.
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Source : www.indo11.com

Ratih Gema said...

Lennon anticipates Hooper departure
Agen Bola indo11.com reported, Celtic manager Neil Lennon concedes striker Gary Hooper is likely to depart the club.
The 25-year-old was the subject of several failed bids from Premier League side Norwich City in the January transfer window, and they are reported to be one of several clubs interested in acquiring his services ahead of the new season.
A groin injury has sidelined Hooper during pre-season thus far, and the striker looks certain to miss the first leg of their UEFA second-round qualifier against Cliftonville on Wednesday.
And, with the former Scunthorpe United man about to enter the final year of his contract, Celtic could decide to sell to avoid losing him on a free transfer next year.
“It will be difficult to convince Gary to stay,” Lennon admitted.
“He has not featured much in pre-season and the games start in earnest for us on Wednesday night.as reported byIndo Eleven.
“So he’d have a bit of catching up to do and I don’t know where his mind is at the minute.
“Has he played his last game for Celtic? Never say never but it’s looking more and more that way.”
Source : www.indo11.com