Ireland v Canada Rugby World Cup 2015

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Ireland v Canada Rugby World Cup 2015 match report – Pool D

Before we get to Ireland’s clinical dismantling of Canada, I felt it was important to compliment the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) and World Rugby as a company for their dazzling opening ceremony on Friday night. It was a fitting extravaganza for what is going to be a fascinating sporting event. To be fair England know how to do opening ceremonies, they nailed the Olympics and they followed suit with what unfolded in Twickenham.

The ensuing game wasn’t bad either and whilst many criticised England for their inability to repel the Fijian challenge, I can tell you now that there are not too many teams that could deal with the incredible physicality that the islanders brought to the party. Some of the hits would be comparable to what happens when two cars meet head on at thirty miles an hour. Both sides put their bodies on the line and set the tone for the rest to follow.

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Ireland V Canada Rugby World Cup 2015 :

When Joe Schmidt sat down last Thursday and announced his team for Ireland’s opening game of the 2015 Rugby World Cup there was a noticeable difference in the great man’s demeanor. Not only did his voice quiver with ambiguity but his entire body language exorcised characteristics that are normally alien to the man.

Pressure affects everyone in different ways and considering this is the strongest Irish fifteen that could be put forward, Schmidt was taking no chances with this one. For the first time since the New Zealander took over the poisoned chalice (that is the Irish head coaches’ job) you could tell he was experiencing what the weight of a nation feels like on his shoulders.

In times of war a Fleet Admiral will always send forward his biggest and most destructive destroyers to lay down a marker and make a statement and for this must win game, Schmidt was thinking similarly.

On this occasion the result was never going to come into question, it was all about the performance and how clinical Ireland could actually be in the heat of real competition.

For me, if this Irish squad were to have any chance of going all the way, it was essential that they started as how they intend to continue; and hopefully what they produced in this game is something that can be built on and carried forward for the rest of this tournament.  It was a great exhibition of decisive rugby.

People will say it was only Canada and that the defining game will be the French one however, after what happened in the South African and Japan match there are now no certainties in life.

What Japan has achieved is nothing but miraculous and will be used as a tool to inspire all those who feel their chances of succeeding are impossible. I’m sure this game will be the talking point for the next few days but for Ireland they must remain focused on their next challenge and nothing else.

To score seven tries in test rugby not alone in a World Cup environment is a super achievement and apart from one or two little errors it was as good a performance by any Irish side that I have ever seen.

As expected Ireland’s set pieces completely dominated proceedings and with Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton in sublime form, the game was a foregone conclusion well before the break.

When Canada’s heart and soul Jamie Cudmore, was sent to the bin for cynical play, Ireland turned the screw and showed a form of cold-bloodedness that thankfully seems to be evolving more and more under this management structure.

To be the best at whatever you do there are times when you must simply be a horrible person. You must unpretentiously be prepared to do whatever it takes and not think twice about it. Just because you are up against weaker opposition, it should never diminish your lust to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible on them. This was, is and always will be the mind-set of a true champion.

Two such players who I think have these tendencies flowing through their veins are Cian Healy and Sean O’Brien.

The sight of Healy taking to the field again was a very welcome bonus and with O’Brien looking like he is back to his destructive best, Schmidt has two weapons that are capable of penetrating any defensive structures.

Another player who seems to care less on how he throws his body around the park is Ulster’s Iain Henderson.

The very versatile Henderson who is equally as effective in the backrow as he is partnering Paul O’Connell in the engine room was my man of the match by a country mile. His route one approach to almost everything he does in a game is very quickly earning him a reputation as the next O’Connell. I don’t know if he has what it takes in the dressing room but if he continues to play as he has done over the last twelve months, he will soon be a house hold name.

The worrying news about Robbie Henshaw’s withdrawal late last week was almost completely nullified by the man who took his jersey.

Luke Fitzgerald who has had a career littered with injury after a heart breaking injury had a magnificent outing. The Leinster utility back showed the world of what he is capable of with his mesmerising footwork and very intelligent capabilities whilst defending. He seems to know instinctively where the opposing team is going to attack and his communication aptitudes helps ease the duties of those who play alongside him.

This opening win of the campaign ticked all the boxes required albeit, if I had to be critical about something it would be that it took Ireland twenty six minutes to register  their first score in the second half. This again filters back to the ruthless aspect that is required at this level. Considering the way O’Connell and his players were dominating proceedings, I expected Ireland to emerge from the dressing room for the second half with steam flowing from their ears. Realistically, they should have hammered home the final few nails in the Canadian’s coffin within five minutes of the restart. Maybe this is just nit-picking but if I were Schmidt that would have been my instructions.

Everybody knows that this is only the start of a very long journey that will become more and more difficult as the days roll by however, what transpired on Saturday must be applauded with a very laudable cheer. It gives everyone in this country a very real lift and a reason to be optimistic.

Take a bow Mr.Schmidt and we await the next installment of your master plan with bated breath.

A personal overview of the Rugby World Cup (RWC 2015) from Ex Munster and Ireland International David Corkery.

David Corkery

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