…O’Driscoll: Georgia Were As Hard As They Come…O’Sullivan Sticking With Tried And Trusted Style…France Cautious Despite 13-Try Triumph…Say What?…Numbers Game…
O’DRISCOLL: GEORGIA WERE AS HARD AS THEY COME: The physicality of Georgia’s play during Saturday’s defeat to Ireland certainly left a mark on Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll.
Ireland disappointed as they seemed to continue whether they left off against Namibia last weekend by putting in another flat display and O’Driscoll said: “We did not up our performance as much as we would have liked but credit goes to the Georgians for that. They were really tough. I’ve played in 77 Tests and that was as hard and as physical as they come.”
The Leinster centre countered though when asked his views on Saturday’s performance. He said: “It’s not like last weekend because we played much better this time and Georgia were much better opposition. This was a proper Test match. I would not say Irish pride has been hurt. Hopefully, we are holding out for the big game against France next Friday.”
O’Driscoll’s record as captain now reads – played 40, won 30 and lost 10.
O’SULLIVAN STICKING WITH TRIED AND TRUSTED STYLE: Although it is clear his team have struggled with its execution so far in the World Cup, Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan has said his side will be sticking with the high risk, running style of rugby they have developed over the past year and a half.
“We’re trying to play a style of rugby which, if it works, if it clicks for us, will prove very successful. We could make less mistakes against these teams and make life a bit easier for ourselves. But we know that type of rugby isn’t going to win you games against France and Argentina either,” said O’Sullivan after his side’s 14-10 victory over Georgia.
“So, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. We’d a tough time back in 2005, trying to change our game to play that way. But we felt coming out of the Six Nations that we got an awful lot of that right. We were where we wanted to be in terms of running with the football, keeping it alive through phases and just hanging on to the ball.
“But we’ve come into the World Cup here and for some inexplicable reason we’ve tried to play that game but we’ve been making a bad job of it and making life very difficult for ourselves. That’s why we are where we are. It’s trying to pursue a style of rugby that up until recently has served us very well.
“It’s a style of rugby that’s important if you’re to succeed at a higher level. But we haven’t executed it well up to now and it’s caused us a lot of problems. We could revert back to what other teams have done in this tournament and just try to whack it up into the air and run after it.
“But I don’t believe that type of game won’t get you the results you would want in this tournament. We’ve tried to put our ‘A’ game on the field in the opening two games but we’ve executed it badly.
“If you’re playing high risk rugby, which is what we’re trying to play at the moment, and the final pass isn’t coming off or you’re knocking it on, two things happen. One is that you play a high price in the game for that. If you turn it over, you spend a lot of time under pressure and you create a lot of opportunities for the opposition,” he added.
“But it also shakes your confidence in the game. It’s a difficult way to play – there are a lot easier ways to play the game. At the moment, we are struggling to play the game we want to play.”
FRANCE CAUTIOUS DESPITE 13-TRY TRIUMPH: France’s 87-10 victory over Namibia, their first win of the tournament, has got their Pool D campaign back on track but Sunday’s hatful of tries will not make much difference if they fail to beat Ireland on Friday.
Les Bleus have to defeat Eddie O’Sullivan’s Ireland at Stade de France to keep their hopes of making the quarter-finals alive, and the French camp are preaching caution ahead of Friday’s renewal of Six Nations rivalry.
France winger Vincent Clerc, who grabbed a hat-trick of tries against Namibia, said after the game: “We have gained some confidence. We built our victory intelligently. However, it was Namibia. Ireland will be a more difficult match. We have to advance step by step.”
Reacting to comments from Namibia coach Hakkies Husselman who feels France are a “better side on their day” than Ireland, French coach Bernard Laporte countered: “If he (Husselman) thinks we are better than the Irish, then it’s up to us to show it. We will enter the match in the same frame of mind. We only have five days, the match will come quickly.”
Sebastien Chabal, France’s all-round folk hero and try-scoring lock against Namibia, added on the subject of Ireland: “They have not shone but they have two victories. We know the value of this Irish team, and I think that up until now they have not played to their true potential. We will need to be careful.”
“We have to be more accurate. Accuracy is what’s letting us down at the moment. We have developed our game, and it took a while to develop, and we’re happy now to keep the ball in hand and run at teams.
“It’s much easier to sit back in the pocket and kick it up into the air or whack it into the corners to wait for the opposition to make mistakes.
“We’ve set out or stall in the year and a half that that’s the way we want to play the game and that’s probably hurt us in these last two matches. Had we just punched the ball around the sides, kicked bombs up into the corners, played territorial football, we certainly wouldn’t have turned the ball over as much as we have.”
– Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan on how his side need to be more accurate in using the type of the game they have developed over recent seasons
“It has given us a new boost in the competition. But the big match for us is the one next Friday against Ireland. We messed things up once – we must make sure it does not happen again.”
– France centre David Marty looks ahead to Friday’s must-win clash with Ireland after his side roared to a 87-10 triumph over Namibia at the weekend
“I think the French are a much better coached outfit. They are more skilled, more solid, better trained. A better team than Ireland. I think this team can go all the way. If they are motivated enough.”
– After playing both teams over the past seven days, Namibian captain Kees Lensing feels France are a better team than Ireland and that the World Cup hosts, with the right motivation, can go on to lift the Webb Ellis Cup
4 – Since their meeting in the 2003 World Cup quarter-finals, Ireland and France have played four times with the French winning all four games – 35-17 in Paris in 2004, 26-19 in Dublin in 2005, 43-31 in Paris in 2006 and 20-17 in Dublin earlier this year
3 – The number of tries Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll has scored in his last three appearances against France. That includes the brace he scored in the 2003 World Cup quarter-final – he was injured for the Six Nations games against France in 2004 and 2007
28 – The number of wins Ireland boast after 82 Test matches against France – Ireland’s last win in the series came in the 2003 Six Nations (15-12 in Dublin). The French have 49 victories and there have been five draws