…Quarter Century For Leamy…O’Sullivan Expecting Fiery Start From Georgians…Barnes Gets Bordeaux Appointment…Say What?…Numbers Game…
QUARTER CENTURY FOR LEAMY: Number eight Denis Leamy will make his 25th appearance for Ireland in tomorrow’s World Cup Pool D match against Georgia.
The Tipperary man watched the last World Cup back in his native county and in Cork, where he was a student he time, and having had a steady start against Namibia last weekend, he is determined to make his mark on the remainder of the 2007 tournament.
“The best players are here. You want to be here. Everybody is talking about the World Cup and everybody wants to be at the World Cup,” he told the Irish Times.
“All the top class players are here, the buzz is here, the fans are here – this is where you to play rugby. It’s a great opportuniy and you don’t want to be looking back in the years to come wih regrets. This is the now and the chance we’ve been given.”
To view a player biography and full career statistics on Denis Leamy, click here.
O’SULLIVAN EXPECTING FIERY START FROM GEORGIANS: One of the most impressive things about Georgia’s performance against high-flying Argentina in Lyon last Tuesday was their start to the game.
They burst forward off the kick-off, snaffled possession and their forwards gained some hard yards before earning an early penalty which number 10 Merab Kvirikashvili duly dispatched between the uprights.
Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan is expecting them to start with all guns blazing again at Stade Chaban Delmas tomorrow night.
“They’re all playing in France and will be pretty fresh (with eleven changes made) so I expect them to come out of the blocks on fire and I’m not expecting an easy ride,” said the Corkman.
“They were very much in the hunt against Argentina, who kept their composure and wore them down. When Georgia slipped off the pace in the last quarter, they were punished – but it was a ding dong battle which was very much what you’d expect from Georgia.
“They are very aggressive, play hand-to-hand rugby, are strong at the set piece and when they had the ball, it was very hard to get it back.”
To hear more of Eddie O’Sullivan’s thoughts on Georgia and tomorrow’s game, please visit our Multimedia centre and click on the press conference links.
BARNES GETS BORDEAUX APPOINTMENT: England’s Wayne Barnes will take charge of tomorrow’s meeting of Ireland and Georgia at Bordeaux’s Stade Chaban Delmas.
The Gloucestershire-born official is making his World Cup debut. Barnes, a barrister by profession who is now a full-time referee, is 28 and the youngest official at France 2007.
He was the youngest official ever to be appointed to the English Panel of Referees, when he was selected in 2001. He started playing rugby aged 8 and took up refereeing at 15.
He has refereed less than 10 Test matches to date but has taken charge of some big fixtures already this year, including the Tri-Nations opener between South Africa and Australia and New Zealand’s World Cup win over Italy last weekend. He was also in charge for Ireland’s World Cup warm-up match against Bayonne last month.
Barnes has plenty of Guinness Premiership, Heineken Cup, European Challenge Cup and IRB Sevens experience, and says his height – he stands at 6ft 3in – is an advantage when disciplining players.
“Rugby is becoming more and more popular in Georgia. After our first World Cup (in 2003) finished we had more people playing the sport at lower levels – and we also began to produce more professionals.
“Now most of the players in our squad are professional and compete in Europe. Rugby is a respected sport in Georgia and we want to fill the nation with pride, so it’s important to do well at the World Cup. The domestic championship isn’t very popular but when the national team plays there are always huge crowds coming to watch.
“The World Cup is crucial to this because it increases the sport’s popularity and that means we get more attention from the government. We need funding and structures put in place and the publicity helps with that.”
– Georgia lock and captain Ilia Zedginidze on the development of rugby in his country and how vital his team’s presence is at the World Cup
“Georgia were excellent for most of the game and were always very much in the hunt. It was only really in the last quarter when they slipped off the pace that Argentina punished them.
“We know they’ll come out of the blocks all fired up against us, and we’re going to have to work very hard to contain them. We’ll need to be patient and not try to force the game too much.”
– Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan on what he expects from Georgia in tomorrow’s Pool D encounter in Bordeaux
“Ultimately it’s down to the coaches and I have to go with their assessment and to be honest I count myself lucky to be here at all. Now I just have to respect the management’s decision, not let my head drop and have faith in myself.
“I think people at home could also take that bit of advice. We’re working hard and no one should let their heads drop. Have faith in us, we can do it.”
– Flanker Alan Quinlan on how he is coping with not being included in the Ireland matchday 22s so far and how the public should have faith in the players that they can return to form
5 – The number of tries Brian O’Driscoll and his predecessor as Ireland captain, Keith Wood, have scored in World Cup history. O’Driscoll will become Ireland’s record World Cup try scorer if he touches down against Georgia
9 – The number of French Top 14 championship players Georgia have in their starting team for tomorrow’s clash with Ireland. For example, the Georgians’ captain and lock Ilia Zedginidze plays for Auch
8 – The number of rugby pitches that are currently in Georgia. There are 25 clubs and 2866 players registered with the Georgian Rugby Union