RWC Opposition Analysis: Ireland

RWC Opposition Analysis: Ireland

The call has been made to Ireland to produce a squad of players that can put the ghost of their disastrous 2007 campaign to rest. Ireland have played Australia four times in World Cup fixtures but are yet to taste success, however, the Irish have come close to knocking off Australia on two occasions in the World Cup – a 1 point loss in the 1991 quarter final at Lansdowne Road (thanks Noddy) and the same margin in the pool fixture in Melbourne during the 2003 tournament.

Best XV
1 Cian Healy
2 Rory Best
3 Mike Ross
4 Donncha O’Callaghan
5 Paul O’Connell
6 Sean O’Brien
7 Shane Jennings
8 Jamie Heaslip
9 Eoin Reddan
10 Johnathan Sexton
11 Keith Earls
12 Gordon D’Arcy
13 Brian O’Driscoll
14 Tommy Bowe
15 Geordan Murphy


  • Brian O’Driscoll. Across Ireland’s four proud provinces, Irish fans are known to say ‘in BOD we trust’ such is his importance. The try he scored at the death at Croke Park in 2009 should still be in the minds of the Australian defence and proves his value to the Irish.
  • Irish eyes were smiling when Leinster won the European Cup in 2011 and could take that winning blueprint into the big games and possibly sneak an upset – hopefully not against Australia though!
  • Johnathan Sexton‘s goal kicking – not quite the ilk of Morne Steyn, but can keep his side in the game if given the opportunity.
  • The lock pairing of Donncha O’Callaghan and Paul O’Connell together standing tall, shoulder to shoulder are starting to make a name for themselves and whilst not quite as formidable as the Bok pairing of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha, will no doubt be a handful to contain.
  • Not really a strength, but it must be noted Ireland denied England the Grand Slam earlier this year – and watching England lose is a good thing – right?


  • Too much reliance on Brian O’Driscoll. If he goes down injured, the Irish fans should break out the Guinness to drown their sorrows (if not done so already).
  • Some poor results in the warm up games with 4 losses had some fans questioning coach Declan Kidney’s ability as head coach. Losses to Scotland, France (twice) and England haven’t helped the confidence of Irish fans who would have expected better after they derailed England’s Grand Slam hopes.
  • Taking, on average, the oldest team to the World Cup and combined with a few niggling injuries with some squad members, might be playing below their best to cover up a lack of depth in some positions.
  • Ireland have two fly halves (Sexton and Ronan O’Gara) in their squad and trying to fit them both into the starting XV isn’t going to work. They can both kick the goals, but one is known for a lack of creativity, and with O’Driscoll in the lineup that is a complete waste of his talent.

How do the Wallabies beat them?

  • History shows that the last three games between these two teams have been close and this fixture is arguably the most anticipated of Pool C. Australia would be hoping for a dry track to unleash their backline in this fixture and get the win, then sit back and see how the rest of the pool pans out. 
  • Whoever Dingo Deans picks in the centres will need to be at their best to keep Gordon D’Arcy and O’Driscoll quiet.
  • The Australian pack has shown they won’t back down from a contest and have a distinct advantage over their opponents. They appear to be more physical, especially at the breakdown and should set the platform for Quade and co. to riverdance their way to the tryline.
  • If all else fails, Rocky and Stephen Moore can put on their best Irish accents and sneakily call for the ball.

Canberra born and bred Rugby fan brought up on Canberra Kookaburra and ACT Brumbies Rugby.

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