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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

O’Driscoll: Familiar Foes In Ireland’s Way

O’Driscoll: Familiar Foes In Ireland’s Way

Brian O’Driscoll says Ireland can bank on plenty of prior knowledge of their pool rivals at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Today’s draw for the tournament in England placed Ireland in Pool D alongside Six Nations rivals France and Italy, with the two other teams – the Americas 1 and Europe 2 qualifiers – to be confirmed.

The men in green, of course, will face France and Italy on an annual basis leading up to the World Cup in three years’ time, and they met the Azzurri too in the pool stages at New Zealand 2011.

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The Americas 1 qualifier will be either the USA or Canada, two sides that Ireland are due to play during their 2013 summer tour, while either Romania, Georgia or Russia are expected to emerge as the Europe 2 side.

Brian O’Driscoll, who has captained Ireland on a record 83 occasions, gave his reaction to the composition of their pool after the draw in London.

“Well, we’ll have plenty of practice in the upcoming Six Nations Championships,” he said, referring to the yearly clashes with France and Italy.

“We’ve played against the Romanias and the Georgias of the world. We’ve got a summer tour to America and Canada coming up. We’re going to know our opposition (at the World Cup), for sure.

“We’re definitely capable of beating all teams on our day. It’s just a matter of making sure you’re consistent for all four games (in the pool stages).”

The pool containing hosts England, Australia and current Six Nations champions Wales has been widely acknowledged as this World Cup’s ‘group of death’.

O’Driscoll was in agreement that avoiding Wales, whose World rankings slide saw them in the third band of seeds, was a welcome bonus.

“We’re not jumping out of our socks (about our draw). It looks like an okay draw, could have been better, could have been worse,” he explained.

“You definitely realise there was the potential for some very tricky encounters. You look at that Pool A with Australia, Wales and England…to have avoided Wales is probably a big thing.

“But at the same time, I’ve seen Italy beat teams and France are very good at World Cups. It’s far from a ‘fait accompli’ that you’re in the knockout stages – that’s for sure.”

The Dubliner turns 34 next month and anticipates that he will have hung up his boots before the 2015 World Cup is upon us.

“It’s weird, coming in (to the draw) I was very relaxed…no pressure’s on it because I don’t for a second anticipate that I’ll have any involvement.

“For me there’s no temptation (to play at the next World Cup) to be honest, I think it is probably 18 months too far for me.

“I haven’t thought about what I’m doing next year let alone in three years’ time, but I think it’s fair to say I’m not going to be around for that one,” he conceded.

Casting his mind forward to 2015, the talismanic centre agrees that there will be ‘extra spice’ to the pre-World Cup duels but is mindful of how the rugby landscape can change from season to season.

“The Six Nations of the World Cup year will hot up nicely when we take on one another, trying to get the upper hand.

“Sometimes those games can become chess matches when you know each other that well, like ourselves, France and Italy do.

“It’s set in stone now, but there’s a lot of rugby to be played before England 2015,” he added.