Well, I was hoping that Ireland would turn it around for the World Cup. The performances in the warm-up games had been poor, and the hope was that, once it came to the tournament proper the team would improve. Now, while Ireland’s opening game of the 2011 World Cup, against the U.S., was probably an improvement on those warm-up games, almost anything would be. Ireland did have some good moments against the U.S. but, overall the team seemed to lack conviction. They started off trying too hard, as if they wanted to answer their critics, throwing the ball around and running, when they should have played a more measured game, calm and in control. Nothing Ireland tried came off, and we were only 3 points up towards the end of the first half. We were able to get the score up to 22-3 before the end of the game, with 3 tries, but let America in with an intercept try at the death. So the game finished 22-10. We even missed out on the bonus point for scoring 4 tries.
The team, and management, have been giving a lot of lip-service about how they know they need to improve and they know they can play better. So far, none of this has come true and on Ireland’s current form, and attitude, a repeat of the 2007 World Cup seems very likely. At this stage, we would be lucky to get out of the Australia game with out embarrassing ourselves. Victory seems completely out of the question.
It has been an exciting start to the World Cup so far, though. With some lovely tries scored, and none of the one-sided, landslide victories that marred previous tournaments (although, the kicking has being shocking overall).
New Zealand got the ball rolling, with a closely fought win against Tonga. The All Blacks dominated in the first-half, and looked on the way to a route. But they let up in the 2nd half, and Tonga did not disgrace themselves. The other main contender in the pool, France, had a hard-fought victory against Japan. The teams were even for most of the game, before France scored 3 tries in the last 10 minutes for a less than easy win.
Argentina v England was a closely fought contest (the kicking was really terrible in this game), with England barely scraping home a victory. The other contender in their pool, Scotland, had a tough time overcoming Romania, although they did score some lovely tries. This pool still remains very much open.
POOL C (Ireland’s pool):
Australia and Italy had an exciting game. Italy did well to stay close to one of the favourites, before Australia showed some real class in the 2nd half, and finished them off with some terrific tries. Italy were another team that didn’t disgrace themselves, and will be a worry for Ireland.
POOL D featured the most exciting, closely fought match of the opening weekend, where reigning champions South Africa, faced Wales. Wales are a team with a lot of talented players, but have rarely showed their best form. Here, though, they did the whole of the Northern Hemisphere proud, matching one of Rugby’s giants, play for play. And Wales could have easily won the game, if some luck had gone their way. Hopefully this performance will boost the confidence of our Celtic neighbours and they will finally show their true potential. Hopefully Wale’s performance will boost Ireland’s confidence as well (I know we like to be underdogs, but at this rate we’ll be underdogs no matter which team we play). We have superior players to Wales, so we should be capable of upsetting one of the Southern Hemisphere giant’s as well.