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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Player Quotes: Ireland 23 Italy 20

Player Quotes: Ireland 23 Italy 20

See below for the views of Ireland players Neil Best, Girvan Dempsey and Paul O’Connell on Friday’s narrow World Cup warm-up win over Italy at Ravenhill.


“These last two warm-up matches have been the ‘Ultimate Fighting’ side of rugby. Bayonne wasn’t really a rugby match as far as I’m concerned. Of course we’re making mistakes at the moment because it’s the start of the season.

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“The trouble is if we make those mistakes in the World Cup we’ll get destroyed, so it’s best that we get them out of the way now.

“There’s no reason to panic because there’s still plenty of time to get things right between now and the World Cup. We put 50 points on Italy in the Six Nations so we’re not too concerned.

“Getting beaten in the last match before the World Cup wouldn’t have been great, but we’re here to improve and need to analyse what went wrong and right so we can make the adjustments we need.”


“Beating Italy was another step forward for us because the pace and physicality of the game was another step up from Bayonne the previous week.

“It was a proper Test match – the first of the year for many players. But we were predictable and one-dimensional…and we have to ask more questions of the opposition.

“Undoubtedly it was a reality check but it’s a lot better to get that performance out of our systems than to produce it in the first match of the World Cup.

“There’s no panic at the moment but it’s a shame we haven’t improved since playing Bayonne. We will have to cause France and Argentina more problems because they’ll be a lot more potent.

“We’re delighted we won in the end but we’re disappointed by the way we played in the second half. Playing into the wind, the conditions were difficult in the first half but we held onto the ball and put them under pressure.

“We got a few good scores but we should have scored more. We could have got away from them on the scoreboard but as a back line we didn’t take our chances.

“There was an element of not wanting to show our hands but we’re disappointed with the way we played in the second half.”


“Sometimes we work so hard that we forget about the simple things and it was the simple little things that disappointed us (against Italy). Our continuity game was poor and our aggression at the breakdown let us down a little bit.

“Of course we didn’t want to peak against Italy and we’re all working towards the World Cup, but we wanted to play well against the Italians.

“We didn’t go out to play badly – nobody wants to play bad just to give yourself a wake-up call. So I think a lot of stuff there is very fixable.

“If we had a lot of quick ball and we were blowing chances and still struggling with ball in hand then we would be disappointed, but we had no quick ball so it is hard to judge our performance.

“That happens every so often with a team as it works to develop its game. But what we have to do now is look back at how we finished the Six Nations and those big performances we put in against England and Italy. That’s where we have to get back to.

“The fact that we play Namibia and Georgia first up in the World Cup will help because it gives us two more games before the France match and a little more time to sort the creases out.”