Ryan Baird: ‘We are not afraid to say we want to win the World Cup’

‘Playing rugby like we are doing, how could you not enjoy it? It’s just great to be part of.’

Ireland’s Ryan Baird  against Argentina at  the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland’s Ryan Baird against Argentina at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

The names of the Irish try-scorers suggested enough evidence that it was a forwards game. Six tries and all of them from the Irish pack spoke to the way Ireland knew they had to face a tough Argentina side.

All through the week the forwards had agreed that the ornery South American pack would pose an abrasive threat. They always do. There was no other way but to meet them face to face at every breakdown and every tackle. A mindset was formed.

“I think…we know how physical and how passionate they are as a team,” says Ryan Baird, who came in for James Ryan when the lock went off for a HIA.

“We wanted to match that and even rise above it. Yeah, it was definitely a focus point for the week to be really physical and to meet them at the gain line and put them backwards.

“You can be physical and also put yourself in vulnerable positions. We tried to bring that physical edge, the fire, that energy to our defence, but also have the smarts to make the right decision and not put anyone either side of you under pressure. I think we did a really good job on that.”

Josh Van Der Flier, Andrew Porter, Caelan Doris, Dan Sheehan, Cian Healy and Tadhg Beirne all claimed Ireland’s scores.

But there was a moment early into the second half when Robert Baloucoune batted down a high ball in the Irish half and from the following scramble Baird came out with it, saw a hole open in the Argentina defence and galloped for glory.

But the covering Argentina defence swept across, with Edinburgh winger Emiliano Boffelli using his pace to down his man.

“Obviously I’m always trying to score when I make a break like that,” says Baird. “I said to myself this morning that if I had an opportunity to do that I’d just run as fast as I can. In fairness to Boffelli, he tracked me down well. Looking back on it I’m always going to try and score a try. On that occasion I couldn’t.

“I think no matter who scores…if you’re scoring tries it’s an indication of a great team performance. It all works in synch from the play call to the execution by backs and forwards. It was a really good team performance.”

Focus

Team has been central to the conversation and focus for the last three weeks with Peter O’Mahony observing after the match it has been the most enjoyable camp he has ever been in.

There are not enough fingers and toes to make that count for the 32-year-old flanker but whatever mood Farrell and his team have instilled it is drawing the best out of his players.

It has also given the team a sense of their worth and now rightly see what path they are on with perhaps more clarity than before. Three wins in succession, especially taking in New Zealand, provides conviction.

“We all get on so well. But we have a collective vision of where we want to go,” says Baird. “Everyone is buying in. We are not afraid to say we want to win the World Cup.

“We have milestones along the way. For this autumn (we) treated it like a quarter-final, semi-final, final. As Johnny (Sexton) alluded to last week and I’m sure Faz (Farrell) has well, we don’t have anything to go for except the victories so it’s a great stepping stone.

“Really enjoyable. Being involved outside there today, the huge crowd, the atmosphere, playing rugby like we are doing, how could you not enjoy it? It’s just great to be part of. We are all going in the same direction.”

Average age

There’s no disagreement there, and with an average age of 24 for the players that closed the game out with additional scores, it is another small bonus in a giving month for the Irish team.

“You find that balance between experience and age,” he says alluding to Harry Byrne, Craig Casey, Dan Sheehan and Tom O’Toole, who all had runs with the more experienced Kieth Earls and Cian Healy.

“It’s great. It gives you a lot of hope.”

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