Ireland’s 2007 World Cup journey is over just three weeks after it began against Namibia. For Argentina, after their fourth pool win on the trot, they are now contemplating a quarter-final against Scotland. Ireland’s Gordon D’Arcy and David Wallace and Argentinian duo Felipe Contepomi and Agustin Pichot give their reactions.
GORDON D’ARCY –
“Argentina haven’t changed their game-plan in four games, yet they they played theirs better than we played ours.
“Right from the point when Brian (O’Driscoll) got over for a try and also when Wally (David Wallace) put Geordie (Geordan Murphy) away, I felt then it was going to be one of those games when it was going to tick over for us.
“But we’re out of the tournament and everything’s relative now. We played better, but we didn’t play well enough.
“Look, you don’t become a bad team overnight. You don’t become bad individuals in the space of a few months. We came into pre-season fresh and it’s hard to know why we came to the World Cup as one of the pre-tournament favourites. But we just didn’t deliver.
“There’s going to be a little turnover in players. Denis Hickie played his last game of rugby. It’s an absolute crying shame that this was his last game of rugby. He was probably one of the best out and out wingers in the world.
“People have very short memories. Six months ago we almost won a Grand Slam, and Eddie could do no wrong. Obviously this didn’t go according to plan, but people have very short memories. People should remember what Eddie has done for this team and for Irish rugby.”
DAVID WALLACE –
“It’s been very difficult to say why we haven’t performed at this World Cup, when you compare the way we have played in the last couple of seasons. We had a lot of momentum coming off the back of last season but failed for whatever reason to get good performances under our belt coming into this World Cup. It never really clicked for us.
“In the warm-up games we never really built up much momentum. The form wasn’t there and it crept into the World Cup. Maybe then there was a lack of confidence. I don’t know. Momentum was lost between last season and this.
“We went out with the mindset we were going to win the game (against Argentina) and that seemed far more attainable. But in the back of our minds there was always the four tries. We did force the game a little bit too much and made too many mistakes in their half.
“There’s no getting away from that fact – we’re obviously very disappointed. We thought we could salvage something and qualify. But we knew it was going to be very difficult.
“Argentina played very well. At one stage I thought we were going to turn the tide in the second half and maybe go and do it. But they played their game very well, and kept us pinned back in our own half and fed off our mistakes.
“Argentina going to be very hard to beat especially with the momentum they have. They would have been seen as third place in the pool but came out and beat ourselves and France. They’ve huge momentum behind them and they’re going to be very hard to beat.
“If I made another World Cup it’d be a surprise. It’s disappointing, my first one and not to progress any further is very disappointing.”
FELIPE CONTEPOMI –
“It is a very proud moment for the team, for Argentina rugby and for the nation. People are talking about us as favourites for the quarter-final now, but if we are favourites we need to take on that responsibility.
“We need to work really hard and try to play our best game next week (against Scotland). I know people back home are following this like a football World Cup.
“We just wanted to score (against Ireland) by any means. By penalty, by try, by drop goal, whatever. This World Cup has shown that there are very good defences. For me, Ireland has one of the best pairs of centres in the world, maybe the best back three.
“But we were getting good results in the forwards so why not keep it there and try to make them work hard?
“It’s not pressure for us now moving on. Twenty days ago when the World Cup started, not many people would have given us a chance of being top of Pool D.
“But we must make sure that we have a good strategy against Scotland. That’ll be a very tough game for us. They have lifted up their level a lot from the Six Nations earlier in the year. You know anything can happen with quarter-finals.”
AGUSTIN PICHOT –
“We knew that Ireland would give us a tough time physically. I thought we played really well, a totally all-round game. I think the Irish and the Welsh (who both failed to make the quarter-finals) have a lot of soul searching to do.
“The economic ramifications for them will be enormous and they will have to do a lot of restructuring in the next four years.
“I have never held them (the world rankings) in high regard, as I always thought they were a marketing ploy. We will not underestimate Scotland, even if we start as favourites.
“We would never allow ourselves to run onto the pitch believing we were superior to another team. It is always vital to believe that we have to give everything to beat a team like Scotland.
“Playing for my team is an absolute pleasure, it’s really special. I don’t talk about statistics or how many times I’ve played as captain. It’s an absolute privilege for me and an unbelievable achievement to be part of something like this.”