Rugby Union

Can Ireland really win the Rugby World Cup?

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For a country that is populated by fewer people than London alone, Ireland are in high spirits for the upcoming Rugby World Cup, and they have every reason to be.

If we go back to 2014, to Ireland's first six nations crown, and how impressive they were led by the ever idolised Brian O'Driscoll, there was still an air about the whole scenario, and questions as to whether his imminent retirement could have bode ill for the men in green and their coach Joe Schmidt.

However, they certainly did not trail off, and in the space of 18 months, have won another six nations crown, enjoyed an undefeated Autumn international series, and now currently hold the world number two spot going in to September's tournament.


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Ireland set the standard back in October and November of 2014, beating Australia and South Africa, either side of a win against minnows Georgia. Many people were crying out for the All Blacks, having come so close in 2013, losing by a last minute conversion, mired by controversy when Aaron Cruden was allowed to retake his poorly executed first kick.

The last 18 months has seen the experienced players step up and fresh blood come in seamlessly. Jarrod Payne looks to have made the number 13 jersey his own and Ireland boast a plethora of highly talented backs, including 3 of the stars for Lions on their tour of Australia, Rob Kearney, Connor Murray and Jonny Sexton.

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In the pack, Cian Healy, should he fail to be fit, will be a huge miss for the greens, however the second pack is very strong and stable, with giant Devin Toner so consistent in the line out, and a back row that could compete with any in the world, Ireland must be licking their lips when they think how kind the draw was to them.

A group with Canada, Romania, Italy and France must have been just what the doctor ordered, yet complacency has haunted Ireland in World Cups past, notably when they struggled to beat teams such as Georgia in the group stages at RWC 2007.

The warm-up fixtures have seen a second-string Irish side beat Wales at the Millennium with a scintillating performance, and Scotland at the Aviva, a 'job done' many would say with Ireland looking not at their best.

The hopes of six million rugby-loving Irish people rest on the shoulders of these men, but I have every confidence that Ireland will still be in the mix come the Semi Finals. Can they go all the way and bring the Webb Ellis trophy back to Dublin?

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Paul O'Connell
Jonny Sexton
Ireland Rugby
Rugby Union
IRB Rugby World Cup

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