…O’Sullivan: We Can’t Wait To Get Out There…Leinster Team-Mates In World Cup Caps Race…Radio Ga Ga…Say What?…Numbers Game…
O’SULLIVAN: WE CAN’T WAIT TO GET OUT THERE: The wait is nearly over. The 30-man Ireland squad and its extensive management team, headed by Eddie O’Sullivan, are flying out to their base of Bordeaux this afternoon as their World Cup experienced begins in earnest.
O’Sullivan and his players have been training in Dublin this week but all and sundry are just itching to get to France and build up preparations for Sunday’s clash with Pool D outsiders Namibia.
Ahead of the flight southwards, O’Sullivan said: “There’s an element of almost fatigue at this stage from waiting. Everyone’s waiting, we’ve heard all the speculation, we’ve been through all the ins and outs, ups and down. We can’t wait to get out there and get started.
“Everyone’s relieved – not just ourselves in the Ireland camp – that the World Cup is about to start, so let’s get on and play.”
Commenting on Ireland’s World Cup opener against the Africans, he added: “You’ve got to go out and win the game and score as many points as you can in the process. Namibia will be fired up for it and all ready for action.
“Teams like Namibia and Georgia will certainly give a good account of themselves the first couple of days out. Whether they can sustain that further down the line in the pool is debatable – whether it’s an issue of fitness or injury or fatigue.
“Our game against Namibia will be a bit of a bruiser for a while. We’ll have to be patient and not get too carried away.”
To listen to Eddie O’Sullivan’s interview in full, please click here.
LEINSTER TEAM-MATES IN WORLD CUP CAPS RACE: Whether they know it or not, Leinster and Ireland team-mates Brian O’Driscoll and Malcolm O’Kelly are in a race to become Ireland’s most-capped player in World Cup history.
Brendan Mullin currently holds the Irish record for most appearances at the World Cup – the former record try scorer played 11 times at the 1987, 1991 and 1995 tournaments – but he is set to be overhauled in the coming weeks.
O’Driscoll and O’Kelly, who are both on the cusp of playing at their third World Cup, have played nine times in the competition to date.
IRISH PLAYERS’ WORLD CUP APPEARANCES:
11 – Brendan Mullin
10 – Neil Francis, Keith Wood
9 – Brian O’Driscoll, Malcolm O’Kelly
8 – Terry Kingston, Kevin Maggs
7 – Nick Popplewell, Simon Geoghegan, Conor O’Shea, Paddy Johns, Donal Lenihan, Keith Crossan, Eric Miller, David Humphreys
6 – Des Fitzgerald, Philip Matthews, Jonathan Bell, Eric Elwood
5 – Paul Wallace, Michael Bradley, Reggie Corrigan, Paul O’Connell, Girvan Dempsey, Shane Horgan, Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer
RADIO GA GA: Spectators at the World Cup can be kept in the loop at all times thanks to the latest radio technology. The Radio Links device, available for purchase at all match venues, enables users to listen to exchanges between the Television match offical and match referee, and also to running match commentary in either French or English.
Make sure you look out for them in Bordeaux, Paris and elsewhere over the coming weeks.
“Bordeaux…what an appropriate place for Ireland to be based for their first two matches. Bordeaux fans love their rugby and there will be a lot of music, colour and dancing at the matches. The city is beautiful with some lovely cathedrals as well as some very good beaches.
“It is a big student town and everyone goes out on Thursday nights on the Place de la Victoire. Don’t start drinking too early, though, as bars in France close much later than they do in England or Ireland. They will still be drinking in Bordeaux at 5am.”
– Former France captain Philippe Saint Andre feels Bordeaux will be to the liking of Ireland’s thirsty supporters over the coming weeks
“We’ve had him in to speak to Munster before some of our big European matches, like the one at Sale a couple of seasons back which we lost.
“He’s been at a number of our games, like the epic semi-final against Wasps at Lansdowne Road. We also lost that one, so maybe it’s better if they keep him away!”
– Ireland out-half Ronan O’Gara reckons there will be no need for his fellow Corkman Roy Keane, the Sunderland manager, to fly out to France and give the Irish squad a motivational talk after he unintentionally ‘jinxed’ the Munster team
“Paddy Wallace had a tough time on the entertainment committee for the tour to Argentina. Some of the lads convinced him that there was a mountain in the area called Chair Mountain and indicated their desire to visit this famous Argentinian landmark that had been separated from Table Mountain in Africa when the two land masses split.
“Unfortunately for Paddy he didn’t cop it, and caused complete confusion amongst the hotel staff as he investigated the best way to visit Chair Mountain.”
– Utility back Gavin Duffy drops his Ireland team-mate Paddy Wallace in it after the Ulster man was badly caught out on the recent tour to Argentina
34,440 – The capacity of Bordeaux’s Stade Chaban Delmas, the stadium that will host Ireland’s opening two World Cup matches against Namibia and Georgia
24 – The record number of points scored by an Ireland player in a World Cup match. Ulster’s David Humphreys kicked seven penalties and a drop goal to tally up 24 points but it was not enough to prevent Argentina from winning the sides’ infamous 1999 clash in Lens by 28-24
16 – The number of years that have past since Namibia’s famous back-to-back wins over Ireland in Windhoek. The hosts claimed 15-6 and 26-15 victories over the Ciaran Fitzgerald-coached Irish back in July 1991