…’Bertie’ Bound For Bordeaux…Namibia’s Lensing Not Concerned About Opposition…Here Comes The Science Bit…Say What?…Numbers Game…
‘BERTIE’ BOUND FOR BORDEAUX: Whether he likes it or not, Ireland flanker Alan Quinlan has a new nickname. The Tipperary man has been rechristened ‘Bertie’ by his team-mates after running such a successful campaign to make the Ireland World Cup squad.
The Ireland players had a visit from the real ‘Bertie’, An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, last week at their team hotel in Dublin as lock Paul O’Connell explained in his Sunday Times column.
“When the Taoiseach visited…it was a big moment for Alan Quinlan. We had the real Bertie primed, of course. “Well Bertie, how’s it going?” he says to Quinny when the two of them shake hands,” he revealed.
“Last time myself and Quinny met him was the launch of the new Thomond Park last year, when we presented him with a packet of Meanies and pulled a Munster jersey over his head for the photographers.”
NAMIBIA’S LENSING NOT CONCERNED ABOUT OPPOSITION: Namibian prop and captain Kees Lensing believes his team-mates will try their best in the fast-approaching World Cup, no matter what the opposition.
One of nine survivors from Namibia’s 2003 World Cup squad, Lensing said: “It does not matter which team we are going to take on. All I know is that we are all human beings and we will go out there to do what we are there for – to play the game and to do well at all costs.”
The Welwitschias, who are based in La Ciotat for the 2007 tournament, only had one warm-up match – a 103-15 loss to South Africa – but Lensing admits the squad still took a lot from the game.
“After that match (against the Springboks), the players are a lot more confident and there is a positive spirit all round. I am happy that we are working together as a unit.
I know it will be tough for us in the World Cup, but after the South African experience, I am optimistic that we will put up good fights against some of these teams.”
Lensing’s Coastal Sharks club-mate Skipper Badenhorst will not be playing for Namibia at the World Cup. The Sharks have not released the hooker for the tournament, arguing that Badenhorst was contracted to them and they want to use him for their Currie Cup campaign.
HERE COMES THE SCIENCE BIT: Do you remember the days when a rugby jersey was just a humble rugby jersey? Those boffins at Canterbury have remarkably borrowed World War II technology to cloth five teams, including Ireland, at the 2007 World Cup.
Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Scotland and Japan will all wear Canterbury’s hi-tech new jerseys for the tournament. In a bid to boost player performance, the new shirts have been ionised, a process first used by the German Luftwaffe during the war to keep bomber crews alert.
The tight-fitting shirt, first used by Eddie O’Sullivan’s players against Scotland last month, react with sweat to create a negative ionisation charge. The process begins to work as negatively charged ions in the fabric are absorbed into the skin.
The negative charge increases blood flow by reducing adhesion of blood cells to the vessel walls. The increased blood flow delivers more oxygen to the muscles, boosting a player’s power output and also helps to remove waste products, such as lactic acid, more quickly.
Tests carried out by Loughborough University showed the Ionx clothing gave athletes a 2.7 per cent increase in performance. On the fields of France is where it will count though.
“When I counted everything on the checklist it came to 60 items (and a pair of socks counts as one, not two). We have bags and jackets of all shapes and size, rain jackets and polarfleece hoodies, armourfit undergarments for hot and cold conditions, a whole load of socks, shorts, T-shirts and training tops, not to mention sandals and baseball caps.”
– Lock Paul O’Connell talks through the kit issued to Ireland players for the 2007 World Cup
“The one thing Ireland lack is the belief that they can go all the way.”
– The view of former New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick seems destined to end up as a cutting on the walls of the Ireland dressing room, particularly if they meet the All Blacks in the coming weeks
“I got a video a few years ago – ‘A Decade of the All Blacks’ – and there was a lot of footage from the inaugural tournament of ’87 on it which was interesting. In ’91, I was only 12 when Gordon Hamilton got the try against Australia. ’95? Lomu.
“And I remember Gary Halpin giving the finger to the All Blacks and all the rest of the lads asking him what the hell he was doing because it was just three or four minutes into the game (laughing).”
– Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll reveals his earliest World Cup memories in an interview with the Irish Independent
3 – The number of opening matches that Ireland have won at the five World Cup tournaments to date. They lost to Wales (13-6, 1987) and New Zealand (43-19, 1995) but posted wins over Zimbabwe (55-11), the USA (53-8) and Romania (45-17) in their openers in 1991, 1999 and 2003 respectively
10 – Ireland’s 64-7 win over Namibia at the last World Cup saw Eddie O’Sullivan’s men gain the Irish record for most tries scored in a World Cup match – ten. The try scorers that day were Alan Quinlan (2), Girvan Dempsey, Denis Hickie, Marcus Horan, Eric Miller (2), Guy Easterby, Shane Horgan and John Kelly
4 – The number of World Cup tries Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll has scored to date. Former skipper Keith Wood holds the current Irish World Cup record with five touchdowns