World Cup 2015: Previous finals meetings with France and Italy
1995 quarter-final: Ireland 12-36 France: King’s Park, Durban:The sight of Brendan Mullin, socks around his ankles, sprinting in vain after the smooth -striding Emile N’Tamack, in what proved the 56- times capped centre’s last game in a green jersey, lingers in the mind.Thierry Lacroix landed eight penalties to Eric Elwood’s four, with Ireland soundly beaten. At least they were already in bonus territory having achieved their intended target of overcoming Wales in the Pool stages.
An excellent French team, which included Philippe Sella, Abdelatif Benazzi and captained by Philippe Saint-Andre, still feel aggrieved about losing the semi-final to South Africa.
Ireland 21-43 France
Telstra Dome, Melbourne
Having beaten the French three times since 2000, most recently in March at Lansdowne Road thanks to a Geordan Murphy drop goal, Ireland carried plenty of belief into this showdown.
That was shredded after three minutes when Oliver Magne crossed for the first of four tries. It was 27-0 by half-time with Imanol Harinordoquy, among others, breathtakingly good.
Yet again, it was Ireland’s outside centre, this time Brian O’Driscoll, who battled to the bitter end, crossing for two tries to salvage some pride and enhance his reputation. But little else was achieved on the night as the French destroyed Eddie O’Sullivan’s team, with Christophe Dominici running in a wonderful team try.
2007 Pool game three
Ireland 3-25 France
Stade de France, Paris
A dark night for the 30,000- strong Irish support. After being nothing short of lucky to avoid losing to Georgia six days previously, Ireland finally left their industrial estate outside Bordeaux for Paris, with O’Sullivan, making three changes – Andrew Trimble, Eoin Redden and Jerry Flannery for Denis Hickie, Peter Stringer and Rory Best – to a team that had become known as the coach’s untouchables. Trimble’s defensive positioning in the outhalf channel was exposed for the first of two Vincent Clerc tries as the hosts desperation to atone for defeat to Argentina in the opening game saw them to a comfortable victory.
2011 Pool game four
Ireland 36-6 Italy
Otago Stadium, Dunedin
Ireland topped the group, following up the dismantling of the Wallaby pack , with Declan Kidney’s “cup match” mentality to the fore once again.
The forwards’ dominance was helped by the early departure of Italian scum anchor Martin Castrogiovanni.
Holding a nervy 9-6 lead at half-time, O’Driscoll’s early touchdown after the break – ensuring he has scored tries in four World Cups – was followed up by Keith Earls flying over for a brace, while Ronan O’Gara convinced Kidney he was the man to pilot Ireland into the semi-final.
Unfortunately, this was as good as it got.