Ireland predicted to 'blow it' at Rugby World Cup
Former England Sevens and Stade Francais player Ollie Phillips has predicted that Andy Farrell’s Grand Slam-winning Ireland team will ultimately fail at the Rugby World Cup in France later this year.
“I really do hope that Ireland win the World Cup this year, but so many bones in my body are telling me they’ll blow it in France later this year,” wrote Phillips (39).
Phillips argues in his City AM column that Ireland’s Pool of Death which includes South Africa, Scotland, Tonga, and Romania has set up a knock-out game against the Scottish in their final pool match before a quarter-final against either New Zealand or France.
He sees “a realistic scenario” whereby Scotland still has a chance of making it to the last eight, as Gregor Townsend’s men “give everything they have” to beat Ireland to have any hope of qualifying.
But it’s Ireland’s overreliance on Johnny Sexton that could be their biggest weakness, and teams will try to target him to unsettle the Irish team.
“And for me, so much of the Irish success in the last two months has been channelled through two players: Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony.
“Sexton is the messiah of the Irish machine, he’s so smart in the way he runs his side and creates opportunities for others. But his game style is his weakness.
“England showed how you can target the fly-half and get him hobbling in no time at all, and the likes of Tonga and Romania will prioritise that game plan as they go for a giant killing.”
Phillips sees the tournament as France’s to lose.
“For me, the writing is on the wall for France to win the World Cup on home soil. They’re looking solid and their loss to Ireland in the Six Nations – one of the greatest matches the Championship has ever seen – could be a blessing in disguise.”
The Englishman’s take comes days after former New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen branded Ireland Rugby World Cup ‘chokers’ and that getting over that psychological hurdle will be the greatest challenge for the men in green in France.
“Every time a team is number one in the world, you’ve got to consider them to be a World Cup contender – but it’s a tough tournament to win, and they were number one going into the last one, weren’t they?,” said Hansen. “So, they’ve seemed to struggle a little bit at World Cups. If it was the All Blacks, they’d probably be called ‘chokers’.”
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Draft system needed for New Zealand. It works. But the commitment has to be there. Japan team and US based in Hawaii would be good for Super Rugby Pacific, but for all teams to be competitive. Needs far-sighted change and new thinking, otherwise eventually fans will lose interest.Go to comments
Harry hockings!Go to comments