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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Dempsey: Paris Holds No Fears For Us

Dempsey: Paris Holds No Fears For Us

Full-back Girvan Dempsey reckons Ireland’s less-than-favourable record in Paris will not count against them when they take on both France and Argentina in the French capital next month.

Apart from the Brian O’Driscoll-inspired victory at Stade de France in 2000, Ireland have not beaten France in Paris since 1972 – they face Bernard Laportes’ Les Bleus on September 21. The Parc des Princes, the venue for Ireland’s World Cup clash with Argentina on September 30, holds few good memories for the men in green with no wins from 12 visits to the stadium between 1974 and 1996.

But acknowledging the Irish provinces’ admirable ability to win in France, Leinster’s 2006 Heineken Cup quarter-final win in Toulouse being the most recent example, Dempsey said: “I don’t think the Paris factor is an issue for us. This current Ireland squad is very experienced and we’ve played in numerous big grounds and won – we’ve gone to Twickenham and other places and done the business.

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“Paris isn’t any different. You approach the game on the day, devise your gameplan and go out and try and play as best you can. I don’t think Paris is going to be a factor in our heads at all, going into the World Cup.”

Dempsey played in all five of Ireland’s matches at the 2003 World Cup and with 74 caps behind him, the Dubliner is well placed to judge Pool D opponents Argentina, and in particular the Pumas highly-rated full-back Juan Martin Hernandez.

“I suppose people have looked at the fact that Argentina have been in our group for the last three World Cups and the games against them are always very, very tense,” Dempsey said.

“The game in Adelaide in 2003, for example, was very tight, and wasn’t over until the last few minutes in a period when we were fighting at the death, trying to keep them out. It will be a big game for both sides in Paris.

“We know a lot about each other having played at the last few World Cups, in the autumn internationals and again just recently.”

Commenting on his potential opposite number for the sides’ Parc des Princes encounter, he added: “I’ve watched Hernandez numerous times – he’s an extremely good footballer, very talented, very astute, reads the game very well and certainly doesn’t seem to have any fear. It’s going to be a task if I’m selected against him.”

Dempsey is in camp with the extended Ireland squad in Limerick this week and is glad to get back to ball work after a tough summer schedule which included two trips to the Spala ice chambers.

“If you talk to any of the players about the last six to eight weeks of running up hills and lifting weights, it’s all completely different – you’re trying to get yourself as strong, as fit and as fast as possible.”