…’Steady’ Puts His Best Foot Forward…Wheelchair Team Victorious On The Double…Bennett Getting Dogs Abuse…Ireland Given A Half Century Handicap…Up And Unders…
‘STEADY’ PUTS HIS BEST FOOT FORWARD: It was probably one of the biggest mismatches of the World Cup – asking a gaggle of pot-bellied Irish rugby journalists to keep tabs on a former rugby league international – and so it proved as Graham Steadman showed off his footballing skills to grab a hat-trick in the Ireland’s 4-2 ‘friendly’ match win over the Irish media in Bordeaux.
Steadman, appointed Ireland’s defence coach in September 2005, showed he knows a thing or two about attacking too as his three goals helped the management take a 3-2 lead with just a few minutes remaining.
The media had netted through Irish Times Rugby correspondent Gerry Thornley, who dispatched a penalty, and Meath man extraordinaire Hector O hEochagain, who is busy compiling clips for a special World Cup DVD called ‘Chasing the Frogs’.
But then against the run of play, according to the media at least, the Irish management swept forward and a certain Eddie O’Sullivan was on hand to crack home the match winner from close range.
Turning his attention to tomorrow’s match, Steadman is looking for a smart defensive performance from Ireland against the Georgians.
“There were some good aspects (in the Namibian game) but we’ve certainly got to improve on space and reset. We certainly can’t give the stronger teams in the pool the kind of space we gave Namibia and off the back of that, we’ve got to be a little bit smarter,” he said.
WHEELCHAIR TEAM VICTORIOUS ON THE DOUBLE: The Ireland Wheelchair Rugby team scored a notable double over their French counterparts by beating the hosts in two exhibition matches at the Place de l’Hotel de Ville.
The event, organised by the French Paralympic Committee, saw the Irish Wheelchair Rugby squad attend the opening ceremony and first match of the Rugby World Cup between France and Argentina at the Stade de France. The victorious Irish team was coached by Michael Flaherty and captained by Corkman John McCarthy.
One of the members of the Irish side, Craig McMillan from Ballyclare, said: “It meant so much. I am an ex-rugby player – that is how I became paralysed – so for me being able to be there during the World Cup was amazing.
“There was this whole buzz about the place. I had never been to Paris before and we had never played outdoors either. It was amazing. It was really great for the sport. People were walking past and stopping to have a look at what was going on,” he added.
“Usually Wheelchair Rugby is played indoors, so you don’t get as many spectators, but last week it was great. I think everyone enjoyed it.”
For more information on Wheelchair Rugby in Ireland, please visit the website of the Gaelic Warriors, the first Wheelchair Rugby club in Ireland.
BENNETT GETTING DOGS ABUSE: International rugby players have good memories – just ask Shane Horgan about the time he squealed when Geordan Murphy jumped out at him from a cupboard. Is Horgan still reminded about the incident? You betcha.
Ireland masseur Willie Bennett has also fallen foul of a practical joker in the World Cup squad, as flanker Alan Quinlan explained in his most recent column in the Limerick Leader.
“After training I head for Willie Bennett’s hydrotherapy van. Willie’s another Tipperary man and had to drive 12 to 13 hours straight to get the van here,” wrote Quinlan.
“It’s great after training to get straight into the hot and cold baths and Willie is great to have around the place. Willie’s a great character and has the sense of humour you need to survive among us.
“A couple of weeks ago Brian Carney caught him out. Carney rang Willie and asked if he could use the hydrotherapy van for a couple of greyhounds he had.
“Willie, being the nice guy he is, believed Carney, but, of course, Carney was recording the conversation and played it back to some of the lads. Willie is still getting a bit of a slagging, but he’s well able for it and we love having him around.”
IRELAND GIVEN A HALF CENTURY HANDICAP: Paddy Power bookmakers obviously feel Ireland will up their game from last weekend, given that the Irish are priced at 10/11 (with a -49 points handicap) to beat Georgia tomorrow.
Without the handicap, Eddie O’Sullivan’s men are 1/900 to defeat the eastern Europeans, with Leinster trio Brian O’Driscoll, Denis Hickie and Shane Horgan all priced at 6/1 to nab the game’s first try.
Following their disappointing win over Namibia, Paddy Power has Ireland at 3/1, behind France (2/1) and Argentina (5/6), to be the outright winners of Pool D. They are rated at 25/1 to win the tournament with New Zealand now odds on at 1/2 to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.
UP AND UNDERS: …On Thursday evening in Paris, a Rugby World Cup Appeal Hearing was held into the case of USA centre Paul Emerick.
The Appeal Committee comprised of Chairman Justice Wyn Williams, Bruce Squire QC and Judge Guillermo Tragant.
The Appeal Committee upheld the decision of the Judicial Officer, Professor Lorne Crerar, in suspending Emerick for a dangerous tackle on England’s Olly Barkley during the sides’ Pool A match on September 8.
The Appeal Committee was satisfied that the tackle in question was very dangerous and, in the circumstances, a five-week suspension was the correct sanction…
…Ireland assistant coach Niall O’Donovan would like to see referees clamping down more on players spoiling opposition ball at the breakdown.
Asked about the issue at a press conference on Thursday, he said: “No, I don’t think there have been enough (yellow cards issued so far for the offence). The likes of France need fast ruck ball – no different from ourselves – and if you slow it down for a second, it spoils the way we want to play really.
“So I do agree with what you’re saying – referees need to clamp down a lot more. They have been a bit lenient about guys slowly getting out of the way.
“I think they need to be sharper around that area and get bodies out of the way faster.”…
The Irish naval vessel, the LE Eithne, will be docking in Bordeaux this weekend for rugby fans and locals alike to come on board and learn more about the ship and its work.
The open day on the LE Eithne will begin at 2pm on both Saturday and Sunday and finish at 5pm on both days. The vessel will be docking near Bordeaux’s World Cup village on the quays (124 Quai des Quinconces).
For more information, please contact the Irish Embassy in Paris on tel: 00 33 1 44 17 67 00…