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Finn Russell: Ireland 'the best team in the world'

By Ian Cameron
Finn Russell of Scotland is tackled by Manie Libbok of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between South Africa and Scotland at Stade Velodrome on September 10, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Scotland flyhalf Finn Russell acknowledged Ireland’s rugby supremacy after they clinched the 2024 Guinness Six Nations title with a gritty 17-13 victory against Scotland, declaring them the ‘best team in the world’.

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Despite a tenacious battle at the Aviva Stadium, it was the Irish who emerged as back-to-back champions on ‘Super Saturday’, much to the delight of the home crowd. The celebrations were doubly sweet as they coincided with St. Patrick’s weekend, sparking vibrant revelry across Dublin.

Though not their most dazzling performance, Andy Farrell’s squad demonstrated plenty of resolve, none more so then when Andrew Porter crossed the line for a decisive second-half try.

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Russell, who has contended with the world’s best – including South Africa – within the past few months, had no reservations in hailing Ireland as the world’s number one team, despite the fact that the Boks won the Rugby World Cup and the All Blacks beat Ireland in the quarter-finals of the same tournament.

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“I think they’re brilliant. They’re probably the best team in the world.

“Majority of them probably come from Leinster, so they’re so well aligned. It makes it tough to break them down and find weaknesses in the team.

“However, coming to the Aviva when they are have everything on the line, and us putting that performance in. We probably had the chance to… maybe to have won the game if we hadn’t let in a couple of soft tries, maybe we could have won the game, I’m not sure.

“I think they are the best team in the world and this is probably the hardest place to come and get a victory.”

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Russell contends that Scotland need a substantial mental shift after their Triple Crown aspirations were thwarted by Ireland. Despite the spirited performance, he lamented Scotland’s erratic play, which led to a disappointing three losses in the tournament from five games.

Six Nations
James Lowe – PA

“Today we are progressing,” said Russell. “That mentality we had today and that cohesiveness, especially in defence, was brilliant.

“But throughout the campaign we need to get mentally stronger. We need to get better and put in performances week in, week out.

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“We’ve had spells in this competition that we’ve been brilliant but at the same time we’ve had spells where we’ve allowed teams to get on the front foot and get momentum.

“We are progressing and it’s tough only winning two games and saying we’re progressing but this campaign will make us better come the summer, then November and next season’s Six Nations.

“From a personal opinion, I think mentally we need to get a lot better and not drift at moments in the game.

“We need to be in every moment of the game and that’s a big work on for us.

“Today, we were there for probably 90 per cent of the game, just a couple of moments that allowed Ireland into it. And, probably the best team in the world, you can’t do that over here.”

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Comments

59 Comments
J
JJGhost 118 days ago

Finn Russell logic: “World” = 4 countries.

Ireland may be at or near the top. FR’s bigger concern should be he and his fellow Scots (incl. the Bloemfontein ones) sliding back down to below top 10

R
Red and White Dynamight 119 days ago

Finn is right. Ireland are the best team in the World. Boks won the LOTTO Cup, thats it. Ireland trigger all the Bok fans, its hilarious. Every post about Ireland, without any reason for SA presence, is immediately invaded by Safas. Online, social media, its the same. Such an insecure nation.

J
Jen 119 days ago

If you’re at the top of the world rankings then you’re the best in the world. If you slip from there, then you’re not, whether you’re the current RWC holders or otherwise. Winning the tournament is one thing, being consistently good is another.

R
Rugby 119 days ago

Finn might have a short memory, not sure. I guess it is easier to say after the game in an interview “ah look we tried our best but we lost to the best team in the world, in their backyard” rather than “we lost to the second best team in the world” (Just using current World Rankings and RWC Results)

Using Finn and the 3 teams in question. Assuming Scotland, Ireland and Boks are consistent. Can’t go back to far in rugby , kind of you as good as your last game.
RWC
Boks 8-13 Ireland (Boks 7-1 split no POLLARD no VERMEULEN)
Boks 18-3 Scotland (Boks 6-2 Split no POLLARD )6 nations
Scotland 13-17 (Ireland no SEXTON )
Ireland
lost JOHNNY SEXTON (who was just brilliant in the last few years)
maybe also PETER O'MAHONY
Springboks
lost DUANE VERMEULEN
but they will gain DE JAGER* *who is back playing
they will also have POLLARD and AM.
Springboks also have some new coaching ideas
Jacq lurking in Leinster
Jerry on Board

Rassie has now come out to say he wants to fix a few wrongs.
Turlough this will ramp up I am sure.

J
Jonathan 119 days ago

Reality check. Ireland exited at quarter final once again. Excuses are more numerous than ever. Yesterdays performance against a poor Scottish team(can’t beat Italy) is a clear demonstration of how average they are. I guess the South African tour will settle arguments about number 1 for a while.

M
Mark 119 days ago

Ireland best in Northern Hemisphere and top 3 in the world, fantastic to watch too. World Cup is the real daddy and it is very very difficult to win the ultimate prize. If Ireland beat the Springboks in the summer tests then a strong argument could be built that Ireland are the “best team” in the world. Will see what happens.

c
craig 119 days ago

It’s simple really. Whoever wins the biggest trophy in the biggest tournament is considered the world’s best. It’s not rocket science.

K
KiwiSteve 119 days ago

I think we can all agree Ireland are going to win the world 🌎 cup🗑️ needing only 13 men

F
Flankly 119 days ago

We should settle this “Best Team in the World” thing. Maybe we should have a tournament between all the contenders, and just let them battle it out.

B
Bull Shark 119 days ago

Ireland are the best team in the world. We nearly beat them, cos them scored soft tries against us. We are the second best team in the world then.

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sean 43 minutes ago
The bite don't match the bark

Yeah, he has a few good points… I disagree that our 7s haven't done anything, we won Bronze in 2016, and we were virtually unplayable to the backend of the “teens” winning the series. 7s is far more competitive globally than Union, so it's fair to say we haven't dominated, but we are almost always contenders. But I do agree that our national side doesn't perform nearly as well as it should between World Cups, and I do agree that our supporters can be too passionate and the opitimity of what Rugby stands against. I have said so many times. And I also believe some context needs to be taken into account with Saturday's win for Ireland. They're a really good team! Settled coaching staff, and bar a few legends retiring, they've had a full season and plenty of time together. We have some youngsters being groomed for the future, have played only 3 games now under a new coaching team with new philosophies and game plans. I'm excited by what the future of this team holds, as much as I am disappointed by the result. But unlike this article suggests, I am never going to take away from what Ireland has achieved, is achieving, and where they're heading. As a Rugby fan, I love the tight games, like the last two weekends. As a Bok Super Fan, I agree we don't perform as well as we should. And as an aside, you come play a game at 7am on our fields, bud. -2°c and frost on the field that is as hard as concrete…. Then we’ll see just how tough you are. Well done Ireland! They played well, and gave our boys a lot to think about. That's what you want from the top two teams in the world. Rugby won. The fans of this greatbsport won. A'n bullshit like this article is why Rugby is losing its identity. I don't like soccer. This article perpetuates the soccer influences the game of Rugby is starting to see. It's why Wayne Barnes retired, feared for his family, and he isn't the only ref to say so. I have called out many Bok fans for being an embarrassment to the game, and I will continue to do so. Rugbypass.com, this article is close to the same bullshit. You should be better.

38 Go to comments
M
Michael 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Cant deny Christie is a good defender, box kicks well at times, BUT he’s a second too slow passing from the ground. Roigard, Ratima and Hotham will be our 2027 halfbacks I believe DMAC has played reasonably well in both games, so deserves to keep his place - his two breaks at Eden Park should have resulted in tries. Reece was really to blame for the Taylor failure - he stayed too wide, if he had come in a couple of meters the pass from Taylor would have worked. The Perofeta failure was extraordinary, he is normally such a good distributor, failure to draw in Steward was remarkable, failure to look inside was a shocker. Cory Flynn as lineout coach… umm something a miss here. Not sure who is calling the lineouts, but clearly we miss Whitelock’s leadership. Having a disfunctional line out really underminded the AB attack. But let’s remind ourselves Itoje is a master, and their tactics of going for the arms of the jumper on landing and pulling over was brilliant causing Paddy and Scooter to both fumble the balls. I am a Blues supporter so I like Talea, but if you play him on the wrong wing look out. While he’s not the fastest wing, he’s elusive and very industrious always looking for work. However, he’s not the tallest player, and everyone knows his weakness (a) being turned in defence - he’s slow to turn and react and (b) never jumps for high balls is normally out jumped. Personally, I find Recce and Talea too alike - Razor needs to couple them with another complementary partner Clark and Narawa respectively. However, for me the real troubling challenge is our mid-field. I am sorry Barrett & Ioane are a poor combo - either Barrett & Proctor or ALB & Ioane - but having two mid-fielders who are poor distributors is nuts. Jordie had a forgettable game in truth he missed so many tackles, which to be fair is unlike him. But sadly both Barrett and Ioane chose to bash first and rarely distribute cleanly.

26 Go to comments
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