Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rugby Union-World Cup

One of the most encouraging aspects of the pool stages is the performance of the minnows such as the USA, Canada, Namibia, Georgia and Samoa. On the African continent Rugby Union is growing in popularity. The game is becoming a truly world wide sport.
Ireland's performance against Namibia was abysmal. Todays laboured victory against Georgia was scarcely much better. Ireland fielded its strongest team whilst Georgia introduced eleven new players. The part timers from the French second division outfought the Irish full time professionals.

On the field of play Eddie O Sullivans conservatism is smothering flair. In the course of games he is slow to alter tactics. Since he was appointed coach he has tended to use a safety first approach and has failed to blood sufficient new talent. In many cases there is an absence of real competition for places. In addition I suspect that some players are more concerned with the European Cup than the World Cup. Most of their income comes from club rugby. There appears to be an absence of hunger in the squad.

Georgian players are using the World Cup to showcase their talents. Undoubtedly some of them will secure lucrative contracts with European clubs. Their scrummaging tackling and line out work tonight were excellent. They dominated possession for much of the game and deserved at least a draw.

Ireland now face France. The omens are not good. Hopefully the team shakes off the conservative shackles and plays with flair.

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