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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Test Match Countdown: Four Days To Go

Test Match Countdown: Four Days To Go

…Trying Time For Ireland?…Leguizamon: Ireland Are Favourites…Ireland On The Slide In World Rankings…Say What?…Numbers Game…

TRYING TIME FOR IRELAND?: The heat is certainly on Ireland as they look to put four tries past Argentina on Sunday and claim a winning margin of at least eight points in order to book their place in the World Cup quarter-finals.

It is a very tough task when you consider that Ireland have only scored four tries against Argentina on two previous occasions.

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In August 1999, when Matt Mostyn (three tries) and Keith Wood both touched down, while Justin Bishop (two tries), Rob Henderson and Malcolm O’Kelly all crossed the whitewash in the sides’ 2000 meeting.

In the nations’ nine Test match meetings to date, Ireland’s biggest winning margin has been nine points – 16-7 in November 2002. All in all, a repeat of 2000’s four-try 32-24 win for Ireland at Lansdowne Road would do nicely this weekend.

Ireland v Argentina Previous Encounters:

June 2, 2007 – Tour Match – Argentina 16 Ireland 0, Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires
May 26, 2007 – Tour Match – Argentina 22 Ireland 20 (1T), Club Atletico Colon, Santa Fe
November 27, 2004 – Tour Match – Ireland 21 (0T) Argentina 19, Lansdowne Road
October 26, 2003 – World Cup Pool Match – Argentina 15 Ireland 16 (1T), Adelaide Oval
November 23, 2002 – Tour Match – Ireland 16 (1T) Argentina 7, Lansdowne Road
June 3, 2000 – Tour Match – Argentina 34 Ireland 23 (4T), Ferrocaril Oeste, Buenos Aires
October 20, 1999 – World Cup Quarter-Final Play-Off – Argentina 28 Ireland 24 (0T), Stade Felix Bollaert, Lens
August 28, 1999 – Tour Match – Ireland 32 (4T) Argentina 24, Lansdowne Road
October 27, 1990 – Tour Match – Ireland 20 (2T) Argentina 18, Lansdowne Road

LEGUIZAMON: IRELAND ARE FAVOURITES: “It’s going to be a war.” So says Argentinian back rower Juan Manuel Leguizamon who is expecting a big physical contest when the Pumas lock horns with Ireland in Paris on Sunday.

Despite his side’s brilliant start to the tournament with three wins from three and Ireland’s shaky form, Leguizamon still rates the men in green as favourites to win this weekend.

“We are underdogs! No, really, I think Ireland are favourites. We think it is true but then it does not matter who is favourite, it is 15 men against 15 men.”

The London Irish forward added: “The Ireland game is a big challenge. I never played professional rugby until I went to London Irish so it’s been very good for me. Beating England in Twickenham and France in Paris were big days but that’s in the past. We have think about Ireland now.”

The 24-year-old is admittedly puzzled by Ireland’s poor run in the tournament, insisting: “Maybe, it is strange. I don’t know what’s gone wrong with the Irish team, it can just happen. Sometimes you play bad, sometimes you play good.

“But Ireland are one of the biggest teams in the world so we don’t care about the games before. They are one of the best.”

IRELAND ON THE SLIDE IN WORLD RANKINGS: Ireland may have stayed in the world’s top six despite their lacklustre performances at the World Cup to date, but Eddie O’Sullivan’s men are edging closer to seventh-placed England.

The latest IRB World Rankings were released on Monday and shows Ireland are in danger of being overhauled by England. The Irish rating has fallen to 79.62, leaving them only 0.57 rating points ahead of England, who were 44-22 winners over Samoa last Saturday.

France’s 25-3 defeat of the Irish last Friday has nudged them closer to the fourth-ranked Argentinians, with only 0.19 rating points now separating the sides. Ireland’s Paris showdown with the Pumas could have quite an effect on the rankings when they are updated next Monday.

IRB WORLD RANKINGS (As of Monday, September 24):

(1) New Zealand 93.38 Rating Points
(2) Australia 87.73
(3) South Africa 86.44
(4) Argentina 84.82
(5) France 84.63
(6) IRELAND 79.62
(7) England 79.05
(8) Wales 76.83
(9) Italy 75.65
(10) Scotland 74.95

SAY WHAT?: “In any other pool, the team that wins the hardest match takes first place. In this one, we’ve already beaten France and we’re still not even qualified. We must take advantage of the situation we find ourselves in, so we have to aim at finishing first (in the pool).”

– Argentinian hooker Mario Ledesma on the current situation in World Cup Pool D where the Pumas, who are currently top of the table, require their fourth win of the competition – against Ireland on Sunday – to guarantee their place in the quarter-finals

“For those of you who can’t tell the teams apart, the All Blacks are the ones with the ball.”

– ITV presenter Jim Rosenthal dryly explains the situation to viewers as a very avoidable colour clash ensued at Murrayfield last Sunday – the players of Scotland, wearing navy jerseys with a hint of grey, and New Zealand, wearing grey jerseys with a hint of black, were unfortunately hard to tell apart at times. Pity the match officials!

“I had a good bit of free time on Sunday so I logged on to the internet and read through some of the media coverage back home. It’s heavily critical but I guess that’s their job and some of it is deserved. We know we have under-performed but we really feel we have the ability to put things right on Sunday.

“Many won’t give us a prayer of scoring four tries and beating Argentina but I really hope the supporters keep the faith. This team has achieved some pretty incredible results in the past and if we sharpen things just a little more, anything is possible.”

– Internet-surfing utility back Gavin Duffy is in optimistic mood ahead of Ireland’s Pool D clash with Argentina on Sunday

NUMBERS GAME:

14.5 – The number, in millions, of viewers that tuned in to watch the France-Ireland match live on French television last Friday. That was a record TV audience for rugby in the country, while in further evidence of the tournament’s popularity, 2.4 million tickets have been sold for matches at this World Cup

5 – The number of times Ireland have beaten Argentina at Test level. The countries have met nine times with the Pumas winning the other four games, including the two tour matches in Santa Fe and Buenos Aires earlier this year

21 – The most number of points that Ireland have scored in their last five matches against Argentina. They ran out 21-19 winners when the sides met in Dublin in November 2004