Hopes are high for Ireland’s success in this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Some of our star players are in the form of their lives, such as Bundee Aki, scoring 4 tries already in this World Cup, who is an early front runner for player of the tournament.
Meanwhile captain and talisman Johnny Sexton has been in scintillating form in the early games of this tournament, scoring 3 tries while also being joint top points scorer so far with 45 points to his name.
Sexton also recently surpassed Ronan O’Gara’s all-time points record for the Irish national team.
Ireland is currently the second highest scoring team in this Rugby World Cup, beaten only by New Zealand. This Irish team also ranks second in offloads to only Scotland; showing a willingness to take risks and keep attacks alive.
The Irish team are coming off the back of a victory against South Africa, the defending champions who imposed a 7-1 bomb squad split off the bench in an attempt to smash up Ireland with their men and simply out muscle us at the breakdown in the second half of the match.
However, this tactic didn’t quite work for the Springboks, as Ireland was able to scrape through one of the most gruelling games in rugby history, which is a huge attest to the character of this team.
This Irish team are carrying the hopes of a nation on their back, and it appears as though they are garnering even more support with every passing game.
The scenes in Paris after the final whistle against the Springboks were immense as the fans serenaded the players with a rendition of Zombie for the ages as a fitting tribute to the late Sinead O’Connor and left fans with an image of the amazing scenes this sport can create.
For Ireland to stand a chance of winning this tournament, the team will have to focus on one game at a time and not be overwhelmed by the size of the feat they are undertaking in their bid to win a historical first World Cup.
Staying calm and level-headed will be key. We will need leaders on the pitch to make the right decisions at key times for us to stand a chance of winning against the better teams at this tournament.
Our ability to deal with injuries will be crucial. We will have to hope Sexton avoids injury as he is key to the way we play, his presence and decision making in the back field is irreplaceable.
In most other positions we have quite a lot of strength in depth, and we should be able to weather any other major players getting injured, we just need to keep Sexton fit for as much of this tournament as possible.
In the end our main adversary in this World Cup may be as simple as luck and fate, however, there does seem to be a bit of an aura around this Irish team right now that is making us all feel a little invincible.
I believe we should enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts and maybe just pray for a little bit of luck to fall our way, and maybe just maybe we might just stand a chance of winning.
It is however hard to deny the thought of Johnny Sexton winning a world cup in his final game for Ireland would be the beautiful fairytale ending his career deserves and would bring a close to an unforgettable era in Irish rugby for both fans and players.