Ireland should write off Argentina at their peril!

Ireland should write off Argentina at their peril!

The general consensus among most rugby fans in Ireland is that in order for us to break our World Cup hoodoo and advance beyond the quarter-finals, we will need to beat France (as well as Italy of course) and therefore top Pool D. Winning the pool means avoiding the unenviable task of facing New Zealand until at least the final, which, given our record against them, would be the far more favourable outcome.

Reassurance in that logic is therefore married with the belief that we will beat Argentina en route to the semi-finals because Argentina will finish second and all pool runners-up immediately qualify as “weaker” opposition. Four years ago Ireland fell into this trap. We believed in our own inflated hype and greatly underestimated the ability of the runners-up from South Africa’s pool, Warren Gatland’s Wales; a side that would lose by a single point to France in the semis and win the Grand Slam the following year. Argentina should not be viewed with the same breezy nonchalance.

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Japan now lead the pantheon of all-time great RWC shocks

Japan now lead the pantheon of all-time great RWC shocks

The Rugby World Cup is finally upon us and what an opening weekend it was! Although England’s Friday night opener and Sunday’s itinerary were solid if unspectacular affairs, sandwiched in between was the mother of all World Cup shocks.

Japan, a side that had won just one game* at the Rugby World Cup prior to Saturday, shook the international game to its core by beating the two-time champions South Africa, 34-32. The nation of Japan awoke on Sunday morning to the sight of their national rugby team on every backpage around world. Not only was it a gargantuan result for the Japanese, who now find themselves co-leaders of pool B on four points, it was also a pulsating encounter which set a benchmark the weekend’s subsequent games simply could not match.

Japan’s wondrous victory provides the perfect springboard for today’s post; a look back at previous shock results at the Rugby World Cup very few pundits, and fans alike, expected.

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The 10 greatest tries scored at the Rugby World Cup

The 10 greatest tries scored at the Rugby World Cup

In order to mark the beginning of the 2015 Rugby World Cup tomorrow and to get into the spirit of it, I thought I would attempt to compile a few “best of” lists to celebrate the tournament and its brief 28-year history.

Today’s list is the 10 greatest tries that have been scored at the Rugby World Cup. Everyone knows a great try when they see one, whether it’s a wonderful waltzing solo effort or the end product of great team move. A great try should have you on the edge of your seat whilst the hairs on your arms and the back of your neck stand on end.

These tries certainly fulfil that requirement. Sadly there are no Irishmen in this list but there is small consolation in the fact that we are not on the receiving end of any of these dazzling scores. The same can’t be said for our Six Nations rivals England, Wales and France.

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The ghosts of France 2007 still loom large for Ireland

The ghosts of France 2007 still loom large for Ireland

It is nearly upon us! The 2015 Rugby World Cup kicks off tomorrow evening at 8 pm when England host Fiji at Twickenham.

As an Irish fan, my excitement for this tournament is paramount. There is a real sense of optimism around Joe Schmidt’s side, which has lifted back-to-back Six Nations titles. That said this optimism is a lot more restrained than it has been during recent editions of the tournament.

28 years of Rugby World Cups have not been kind to Ireland. Four years ago ultimately proved to be a disappointment, despite a first-ever victory over southern hemisphere opposition at the World Cup. Ireland’s defeat to Wales in the quarter-finals felt like a lost opportunity after topping pool D at the expense of Australia. That sense of what-might-have-been however will never be as strong as it was in the aftermath of the 2007 World Cup.

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