World Cup draw: Expert view
Alan Quinlan:We couldn’t have got a better draw. Win the group and we will probably avoid the All Blacks, with Argentina or maybe Tonga as likely quarter-final opponents.
It’s funny how quickly things can go from doom and gloom to a positive vibe. Just look at English rugby after Saturday’s showing against the All Blacks.
Maybe we shouldn’t get too carried away. It is still three years down the road and there will be plenty of change, as Deccie Kidney clearly realised in November, and some of the older guys won’t make it. Hopefully, some of the young guys we’ve seen recently will have become regulars because you need experienced heads do succeed at the World Cup.
The Irish rugby public’s expectation levels have soared after the success of these past 12 years. We are all a bit fickle and perhaps too demanding.
The recent tough run, dating back to defeat at Twickenham in March, has been sobering and while we should always shoot for the stars, and the Argentina result will generate confidence, just look what happened to the Irish soccer team after the highs of qualifying for last summer’s European championships.
What an opportunity, with three Six Nations rotations to go until RWC 2015. That affords us three competition encounters against both France and Italy to figure out a transitional plan to get us into the quarter-finals as pool winners – thereby avoiding the All Blacks.
England showed the value of beating the Tri-Nations sides before the 2003 tournament and the next three Six Nations should provide us with a similar springboard.
It is imperative we hone and design a game plan that will allow us to beat France on a regular basis, thereby removing the idea they are superior.
It’s either that or we figure out how to beat our other bogey team – New Zealand.
I think we can all agree that we have a better chance of overcoming France.
Our provinces over the last decade are culturally aware of how to beat French clubs away from home. That must now be transferred to the Test arena. I’d say the Ireland camp are thrilled to be in Pool D, rather than Pool A, and I’d say those coming close to retirement will be re-energised by the draw.
That’s as good a draw as we could have hoped for, especially looking at Pool A, with England, Australia, Wales and probably Fiji as the Oceania 1 team. That’s an unbelievably difficult group as Fiji have a history of getting their act together come the World Cup. Italy will probably provide as much of a threat as they did in last year’s World Cup meeting. Yes, they will improve over the coming years but so will Ireland.
We are used to playing France but the neutral ground makes it an entirely different prospect. They are incredibly difficult to beat in France. We’ve had some rough draws in the past, going back to 1995 when we were well beaten by New Zealand and had to get past Wales in a do or die match at Ellis Park, and then there was the Argentina meetings of 2003 and 2007.
By securing our tier two status we gave ourselves a 50 percent chance of not getting a tough pool. We got the pay off by avoiding Wales or Scotland. It’s nearly three years away but it’s the draw we wanted and we can now build with confidence.