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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Test Match Countdown: Five Days To Go

Test Match Countdown: Five Days To  Go

…Six Nations’ Frustrations…TV3 Thrilled By Viewing Figures…Witbooi: We Will Be A Force In The Future…Say What?…Numbers Game…

SIX NATIONS’ FRUSTRATIONS: The opening round of matches in the 2007 Rugby World Cup have seen the Six Nations teams struggle to hit top form against lesser-ranked sides.

It was a weekend to forget for hosts and Six Nations champions France, who stumbled against Argentina on the opening night, Italy were put to the sword by the All Blacks and England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland all failed to impress against inferior opposition.


European rugby’s woes were compounded as the Southern Hemisphere’s big three – New Zealand, Australia and South Africa – all started their campaigns by scoring 59 points or more in their first pool games.


Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan said: “If you go through all the Six Nations sides, we haven’t got out of the blocks quickly. We’ve all had warm-up games too. Probably the most impressive team in the build-up has been France.


“They were excellent against England and Wales, so I’m sure they’ll be disappointed with their start too.”


Ireland will hope to make up some ground in terms of performance and points difference when they take on Georgia on Saturday, and O’Sullivan’s men have been a frustrated lot since their lacklustre 32-17 win over Namibia on Sunday night.


“The atmosphere amongst the lads is a mixture of anger and frustration. They’d trained well during the week and the preparation was fine, which is confusing. They were fired up and they wanted a big performance,” explained the coach.


“We’re in this together and I’ll go over the game with them in more detail. Their heads were down when they came back to the team hotel because they were so disappointed for everybody – themselves, the staff and the fans. We wanted to play good rugby but came up short. The disappointing thing is we weren’t a million mile away from doing that.”


TV3 THRILLED BY VIEWING FIGURES: TV3, Ireland’s national broadcaster for the Rugby World Cup, recorded one of its highest ever audience figures for a sports event for the Ireland-Namibia game on Sunday.


The Pool D encounter, shown live on TV3, had an average viewership of 452,000 for the Dublin-based station, while the viewing peaked at 728,000 in the final quarter-hour.


A total of 333,000 viewers watched TV3’s coverage of the tournament’s opening match between France and Argentina on Friday.


TV3’s executive producer Philippe Brodeur commented: “We are delighted with the figures which exceed all our expectations for these two matches. Matt Cooper and the team of panellists, commentators and reporters have delivered a programme which I believe firmly establishes TV3’s credentials as a national broadcaster.”


WITBOOI: WE WILL BE A FORCE IN THE FUTURE: Namibian winger Ryan Witbooi, who scooped the man of the match award in his side’s brave defeat to Ireland, reckons the Africans will be rugby minnows no more in the years to come.


The 22-year-old, who played his part in setting up Namibia’s two tries, said: “It was a bit of a surprise (to lose by only 15 points), it was a great game. I expected more from Ireland, they wanted more points so we didn’t give it to them, we played our hearts out.


“We will be a force to reckon with in the future. We’ve worked hard in the last two years. The World Cup comes only every four years, so we decided this World Cup we want to be the most successful team Nambia ever sent to the World Cup and we’ve put our bodies on the line,” he admitted.


The Rehoboth-born speedster praised his side’s preparations for the tournament, adding: “We’ve had intensive training for two to three months before we came here, and that really built us up. We saw that when we put pressure on the Irish team (in the second half), they fell apart.


“Their defensive line was not as good as at first, so we decided to play in the gaps, and that’s what happened, we exploited them and that’s how the two tries came.”


SAY WHAT?:


“I’m trying to decipher in my head what’s going on out there, but I’m a little lost at the moment. I don’t understand why we’ve gone this way after doing so well in the Six Nations.


“It’s got to be sorted out big time and unless we perform next weekend, there’s little point in playing France and Argentina because we’ll get beaten out the gate. But I do know we can turn it around and that’s some small comfort.”


– Ireland out-half Ronan O’Gara tries to keep things positive after his side’s lacklustre opening win over Namibia on Sunday night


“We’ll bounce back because there’s nothing that happened against Namibia that can’t be fixed, that’s for sure. All it takes is one big performance and we’re back in the hunt. A lot can happen in a week and there’s a lot of rugby to be played in this competition yet.”


– After their error-strewn performance in Bordeaux, Ireland number eight Denis Leamy knows things can only get better for the men in green at France 2007


“I think we’ll have great support from the French audience – second to the French team of course.”


– Flanker Rati Urushadze is not joking – all but one of the Georgian team likely to face Ireland play their club rugby in France, with some pundits already nicknaming Malkhaz Tcheishvili’s side ‘France B’


NUMBERS GAME:


743 – The combined number of caps that the Ireland starting team boasted before kick-off against Namibia, making them the most-capped Irish team of all-time.


11 – Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll will equal Brendan Mullin’s Irish World Cup caps record of 11 if he plays against Georgia on Saturday.


14 – The number of points Georgia scored against Ireland in the sides’ two previous meetings in 1998 (Ireland won 70-0) and 2002 (Ireland won 63-14).