Irelands Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup

Somewhere way back, someone coined the phrase that a week was a long time in sport. It’s been proven right time and again, of course, but there might never be a more apt time to roll out that particular cliché than when judging Ireland’s progress at the Rugby World Cup thus far.


The best of times, the worst of times, and the occasional bit to land between the two; Joe Schmidt’s men couldn’t be accused of not making things interesting! And so, ahead of the tangle with Russia on Thursday morning – live on eir sport 1, Virgin TV 410 – it’s time to take stock...and catch our breath…




Arriving in Japan as the top-ranked side in world rugby, eyes were on the green machine to come out and make a statement – and poor Scotland were duly on the receiving end of a hammering to get the Irish campaign underway. Bonus point secured in a timely fashion, it was the ideal way to begin the tournament.



Indeed, if we’re looking for positives then it should be pointed out that it’s still early days in the greater scheme of things. For all that the coaches and players will insist there’s no such thing as easy games, ties with Russia and Samoa should offer time and opportunity to iron out wrinkles, get some much needed minutes in the legs of key players, and make sure everything is in ship-shape come the knockouts. But that’s all theoretical – and we’ve already seen what happens to the best-laid plans...




Look, there’s no way around this; while Japan ran out worthy winners in Shizuoka, these are the sorts of games Ireland should be winning – and that makes it the kind of defeat that sets off alarm bells. Being overwhelmed by the indomitable spirit of the Brave Blossoms is not something to be embarrassed about, but sides awaiting in the quarters (and beyond) can be expected to match and surpass that level.



To rub salt in the wound, Jack Conan’s departure through injury is a reminder of the type of attrition to be expected in the coming weeks. While Johnny Sexton remained in his cotton-wool wrap on Saturday, and the likes of Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw and Rob Kearney continue to be carefully managed, the inevitable injury headaches are beginning to kick in – and that’s the last thing needed for the coming weeks…




With two wins under their belts, Ireland might have been looking at their final two pool assignments as warm-ups for the business end; in reality, the serious business starts immediately. A bonus point on Thursday is imperative, and a slip-up in either game could be nothing short of catastrophic.


But assuming those challenges are negotiated successfully, and Ireland take their place in the quarter-finals? The welcoming party is likely to be the ominous prospect of the All Blacks. A battle against South Africa was the widely anticipated – and, dare we say, preferable – test, but things suddenly look a lot trickier. Let’s just put it this way; if Ireland’s dreams of making it to Yokohama on November 2nd are to come true, we’ll be doing it the hard way!


Every match of the Rugby World Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and lots more – your sporting fix is sorted with Virgin Media. Click here to find out more…