….D’Arcy Ready To Shine….Legends Back Their Own Nations And France….Records Could Tumble….Say What?….Numbers Game….
D’ARCY READY TO SHINE: He made his international debut as a replacement against Romania at the 1999 World Cup, many ups and downs followed but Gordon D’Arcy now feels he is ready to take the world by storm.
France 2007 offers the Wexford man a chance to take the bull by the horns and confirm himself as one of the best number 12s on the planet.
Speaking recently, D’Arcy said: “I feel like I’ve settled into the position at number 12 but I’m not established. Particularly towards the latter half of last season, I started to put my own slant on the position and I feel like I know the dimensions of the team a lot more.
“I think I’ve put myself in position to perform in this World Cup through my team-mates, Eddie (O’Sullivan) giving me the chance and through my own hard work. I’ve had a very consistent last two seasons so it’s my time to shine.”
LEGENDS BACK THEIR OWN NATIONS AND FRANCE: VISA Rugby legends Zinzan Brooke (New Zealand), John Eales (Australia), Martin Johnson (England), Philippe Sella (France) and Joel Stransky (South Africa) came together in Paris on Thursday to give their views on the likely winners of the 2007 World Cup.
In weighing up his options, England’s 2003 World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson singled out Ireland’s Pool D as the toughest in this tournament.
“Someone’s got to go out of Pool D. There are going to be some big, big games in that pool with France, Ireland and Argentina. It will be good to watch…it’s mouth watering stuff really,” he admitted.
‘Johnno’, perhaps swayed by the local media, endeared himself further to the Parisiens by saying: “I think France will win the World Cup.”
As a Gaelic footballer lover, former All Black Zinzan Brooke has plumped for Kerry to win the upcoming All-Ireland final and also feels his native New Zealand will justify their favourites’ tag by lifting the Webb Ellis trophy.
Unsurprisingly, John Eales and Joel Stransky also favoured their own countries for World Cup success, while former French international Philippe Sella is confident of a home triumph.
“The French players are mentally fit. They are physically fit. They are strong. They have had a long and diligent preparation. The French team is brimming with confidence but they are not over confident. It’s true that there is pressure playing at home – it has drawbacks – but it also has its advantages,” he said.
RECORDS COULD TUMBLE: Ireland could have a number of records in their sights if they get off to a try-laden start against Namibia in Bordeaux on Sunday.
The most points an Irish team has ever scored in a World Cup match was the 64 Eddie O’Sullivan’s men tallied up against Namibia in a rain-hit Sydney four years ago. Could that be matched or bettered?
The 2003 win over the Namibians also gave Ireland their biggest World Cup winning margin of 57, while their ten tries that day was a record too.
A try for captain Brian O’Driscoll would equal his predecessor Keith Wood’s Irish World Cup try-scoring record of five, as well as edging him one try clear of his good friend Denis Hickie on the all-time list.
O’Driscoll, Malcolm O’Kelly and Alan Quinlan are set to join a select band of Irish players by playing at their third World Cup tournament, while out-half Ronan O’Gara, who scored 28 points during the 2003 competition, could put pressure on David Humphreys’ World Cup points record of 70 over the coming weeks.
“By the time Ireland face France and Argentina they should be firing on all cylinders and, if they can make the quarter-finals, no one will faze them. Four years ago England became the first Northern Hemisphere nation to lift the Webb Ellis Cup and it would not surprise me if Ireland become the second.”
– Leinster coach Michael Cheika is confident that Ireland can make their mark on France 2007
“I’ve had a few bad injuries which have definitely hampered my career, but right now I’m in great shape and I feel fitter and stronger than ever. This is the first time in four years that I’ve been able to get a good pre-season under my belt, the first time in four years that I’ve been able to prepare properly for what lies ahead of me.”
– Ireland back rower Alan Quinlan on his current rude health and preparations for the 2007 World Cup
“We know France very well. We have played them five times since I have been the coach and a number of our players are based in the country. We think we know how to play them and beat them.
“We are well prepared both physically and mentally for a tournament which provides us with the perfect platform to tell the world that Argentina is ready to play in a major tournament like the Six Nations.”
– Argentina coach Marcelo Loffreda is hoping his side’s World Cup opener against hosts France will be a springboard for great things for the Pumas, not only in the tournament but in the years ahead
10 – The number of players in the Ireland World Cup squad who have tallied up 50 caps or more in their international careers to date
6 – The number of television screens the Connemara pub, which is situated on Cours d’Albret in Bordeaux, will have on site for Ireland’s two pool matches in the city – games will be broadcast live in both English and French
6ft 2in – South Africa, the 1995 winners, boast the tallest squad in this year’s World Cup with an average height of 6ft 2in