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.