Alan Quinlan: Ireland Must Confront World Cup Failures Not Hide From It
This Ireland Rugby squad must confront their previous World Cup failures ahead of the start of this autumn’s Rugby World Cup.
Those are the words of Munster Rugby legend and former Ireland international Alan Quinlan.
The Tipperary native has urged this Irish team not to shy away from previous failures in rugby union’s showpiece event but to take the learnings from those disappointments.
Quinlan also gave us his insight into the threat that South Africa pose, teams that shouldn’t be taken for granted in Pool B and the job that Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell has done in his time in charge.
Time For Ireland To Learn From The Past
Do you play it down, not get ahead of ourselves because we have never been past the quarter finals? It is a narrow mindset. I think they will be very mindful of past World Cups but don’t be afraid to address that, package it away or hide it. Maybe find out why it has happened.
You hope previous experiences make you stronger but also learn from your approach, your mindset, tactically what you did on the day.
There is no easy path here but maybe that will suit Ireland better. They should focus on the reality. That is they have been superb for the past two years, producing wonderful performances. You have to embrace that and enjoy it.
South Africa A ‘Scary Prospect’
The Springbok threat to Ireland is massive. Both sides will know what they have to do by that time. But if you decide you’d rather play France or New Zealand in a quarter final you are in very dangerous territory. As a player you have just got to go into every match with the intention of winning, trying to top the group, get battle hardened and build your game.
South Africa will be a huge task. What happened at Twickenham on Friday night when they smashed New Zealand is a scary prospect for everyone.
They are not one trick ponies. They have so much power but also incredible X factor players and finishers who can do special things.
The depth they have across the board is phenomenal. Unlike many teams, if they get an injury or two the players coming in are as good if not better.
South Africa’s Bomb Squad Tactic Bad For The Game?
They have done nothing wrong within the laws of the game. I don’t think it should be outlawed, at least at the moment. If everybody started doing it and had the luxury of the quality of South Africa forwards that could lead to a forward oriented game and a lot of set pieces.
They are the best in the world at scrum, lineout and maul and why not play to your strengths.
They have incredible physicality. They have such high quality.
I have always been strong on player safety and if this became a regular thing with everybody doing it then I think I would be concerned. But I don’t think it will become the norm.
There has long been a debate about the number of replacements a team could or should have. South Africa should not be punished for having so many really good forwards.
There are risks with it as well. If you get a couple of outside backs injured it can backfire. A lot of people have gone 6-2 in recent years and this gives them more options. Some back-rowers can play in the backs now as well. But even 6-2 is risky.
The impact off the bench is definitely a live topic. It will no doubt become a talking point though with regard to player safety. It wasn’t that long ago you could only make replacements for injured players.
It will be something that has to be looked at in the future because modern players are phenomenally conditioned with power. Any way we can make the game safer is to be looked at. Player safety is paramount.
World Rugby is doing its best against a backdrop of people saying the game has gone soft. The number of red cards, that infuriates me. With the recent spate of red cards they are down to people accelerating and putting a lot of power into the tackle. Players have to be more careful.
We need data to assess the risk of four or five people coming on at one time fresh.
Scotland Cannot Be Underestimated In Pool B
They are no mugs. They can be so dangerous when they get their tails up. I’ve been saying for a while now that everybody is talking about Ireland and South Africa in the pool, but I can guarantee Andy Farrell is very mindful of what Scotland can do and will bring.
And Tonga have several ex All Blacks back. It is a really tough group you cannot in any way underestimate Scotland. If their forwards can get parity they have serious threats in their back line.
Ireland’s Physicality Not A Weakness
It would be no secret or surprise that anyone who plays Ireland will go after them physically and try and take them on and try and impose themselves. That is easier said than done and is overplayed in my opinion.
Ireland will know that and they themselves are a pretty physical side. They are not small.
Sometimes you have just got to be tactically shrewd. They played the Springboks in Dublin last year and managed the physical side pretty well.
Farrell Has Created Great Environment In Ireland Camp
His role is massive. He has them pretty comfortable and relaxed in themselves. He has wanted them to be challenged a lot, and they have been. It is a great environment.
What they have done is not leave any stone unturned in their preparation. They have a settled squad, they will need a bit of luck with injuries and there are five or six players they can ill afford to lose.
No team is going to underestimate Ireland. They will probably sense a chance but when they are on song they are a really top class team, the brand of rugby they play. They have worked brilliantly on their game.
Four years ago when Farrell and Mike Catt took over there were question marks for 18 months about where the team were going. They found that spark. They have players who won’t be daunted by what’s ahead.
There is pressure and from a psychological perspective they have to try to deal with that and harness it in a positive way. I would expect them to make the quarter finals. They would expect that of themselves. Hopefully they can find the form they showed in parts of the Six Nations and also in New Zealand 13 months ago.
Ireland’s Attacking Structure Unstoppable
Ireland are one of the best attacking teams in the world, especially when it comes to cohesion.
You have certain individuals for say New Zealand and Australia who can turn a game with special things. But Ireland’s collective attacking structure is at a level that you can analyse it all you want, but you still can’t stop them.
Caelan Doris Is World Class
I have been watching Caelan Doris for the past 18 months and he has got to a level that is world class. He is a phenomenal player with the ball, without the ball, he is a brilliant lineout operator.
He is incredible for a big man at the breakdown getting crucial turnovers. He is so fit and athletic. He has no weakness in his game. He is at the top of his powers and he is a special player and you want them fit and well and performing.
Tadgh Furlong for me is another who is world class, Dan Sheehan at hooker, he is top of the food chain in terms of hookers, and given Cian Healy is out Andrew Porter is vital.
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