18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Ireland will open their 2007 World Cup campaign against Namibia next September after Johan Venter's side triumphed in Saturday's second leg of the final African qualifier.
In Casablanca, Namibia claimed a 27-8 victory over 14-man Morocco, who had their captain Jalil Narijissi sent-off for a dangerous tackle on the visitors' number 8 Jacques Burger just before the interval.
The Namibians were 27-5 up from the first leg and the win sees them repeat their qualification for the 1999 and 2003 World Cups. They had tries from flanker Herman Lintvelt, full-back Heini Bock and impressive winger Melrick Africa (2).
Namibian captain Kees Lensing, who is a loosehead prop, said afterwards: "I am delighted that we have achieved our goal of qualifying for the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Knowing that Morocco would throw everything at us we could not afford to defend our advantage (from the first leg). Therefore, I am really pleased that we played some positive rugby and scored four tries in the process.
"Our attention can now turn to World Cup preparations and ensuring that we go to France in good shape. We have a well balanced side containing both youth and experience and I am proud of everyone involved with the team (today)."
The Ireland v Namibia clash will take place at Bordeaux's Chaban-Delmas stadium, which holds 34,462 spectators, on Sunday, September 9, 2007 (kick-off time tbc).
Ireland's next match at the tournament will be against the European 3 qualifiers - either Georgia or Portugal - at the same venue on Saturday, September 15 before they take on hosts France (September 21) and Argentina (September 30). For the duration of the pool stages the Irish squad and management will have a base camp in the Aquitaine region.
Georgia are favoured to become the last team to qualify for Pool D after their 17-3 first leg win over Portgual in Tbilisi on Saturday. The second leg is down for decision in Lisbon on Saturday, November 25.
Ireland have played Namibia on three previous occasions. Eddie O'Sullivan's men ran ten tries past the Africans for a 64-7 pool win at the last World Cup in Sydney, with back rows Eric Miller and Alan Quinlan sharing out four of those scores.
While the 1991 tour for a Ciaran Fitzgerald-coached Irish side proved a disaster as the Namibians claimed a brace of famous wins - 26-15 and 15-6 - over the tourists in Windhoek.
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