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It’s down to the ‘brass knuckles’ as Ireland prepare to shock the Blacks

By rugby expert  Frank Quinn

IRELAND v New Zealand in a Rugby World Cup quarter final! What a prospect, a dream game beckons.
Down to brass knuckles now as the real business starts with seven games left to be played out of the 48 and, of course, the ‘non-game’ for the bronze medal. Who can remember of the name of a bronze medal winner at the RWC?

Quarter Finals draw:
1. England V. Australia, 2. New Zealand V Ireland . on Saturday 19th.

Followed by: 3. Wales V France, 4. Japan v. South Africa on Sunday 20th.

Semi: Winner 1 V 2 and Winner 3 V 4

We are set for a mouth watering clash, one you would wish for, but had hoped it would be in the final. Still, to play the All Blacks in a RWC has to be hugely special for everyone – not least the fans. It should break the record for TV audiences. We only played them once before in a pool game in 1995 and lost 43-19 in Johannesburg.
After four weeks of a tournament the chips are down and the real RWC starts with the real contenders taking centre stage. It always comes down to this and it’s now time to select. The Southern Hemisphere support will have descended on Japan for the grand finale.
All four of the previous eight winners since 1987: England, Australia 2, New Zealand 3 and South Africa 2 are in contention, some things never change, history repeats itself.
I had made a hit list of games I wanted to see and to work myself up to the final knockout games to make me the resident expert.

But on this basis “I ain’t seen nothing yet,” until the final pools day clash, the Japan/Scotland extravaganza of champagne rugby, and we saw a possible RWC final three weeks in advance! I still class myself in the expert zone, but who are these eight teams left in the competition? I saw England once as they overcame Argentina (on the beach already), Wales beat Australia by four points on the second weekend

New Zealand beat South Africa in week one 23-13. We devoured Scotland and lost to Japan in an active few weeks. I met a professional man and rugby enthusiast out shopping after the Japan win over Scotland in the champagne game. He volunteered Japan to win the RWC – after beating two European teams without tasting what the super rugby teams had to offer. I begged to differ. I did see France beat Argentina 23-21 on the opening weekend but since then I am not sure if they are on holidays or just in the long grass waiting for Wales, the three time dynamite RWC finalists are hardly going to disappear that quickly.

The Paddy Power test:

Match Betting: England 3/10 – Australia 5/2,. New Zealand 1/6 – Ireland 7/2.
Wales 2/5 – France 2/1, Japan 4/1 – South Africa1/7
Outright: New Zealand 5/4, South Africa 10/3, England 4/1, Wales 8/1, Ireland 16/1, Australia 20/1. France 25/1, Japan 33/1.

1 /3 odds for 1/2 places
We did not pass the Paddy Power examination.
Their examination (Leaving Cert standard -if you lose you leave) shows Australia, Ireland, France and Japan will not progress! We beg to differ. The four quarter finals cannot all go to the favourites, we need an upset in the Ireland game to see us through.
England and the All Blacks are in same half of the draw now, one of them in the final and the winner. The other half of the draw looks more open – the best bet with Wales/France to beat South Africa and get to the final.

There has been controversy along the way – with the storm, the refereeing, the turnaround times for games but the attendances are good and they have created atmosphere. Thanks to the Japanese team for lighting up the tournament.

Eight teams at the wrong end of the four pools managed four wins between them (from 4 games each) – to show the imbalance and I will not give you the points differences to embarrass them further. In 2018 RWC Ltd issued a report researching the possibility of having four additional teams at the finals to increase to twenty four. It was abandoned and now in the light of the imbalance in 2019 – it would have been a disaster
We do not stand in good stead to win this tournament with our performances in the tournament and overall our 2019 results. We have been missing an X-factor in 2019, no smiles, no spring in our step – little enjoyment to be witnessed – which we did have in 2018. We came up with our best performance against Scotland in the round one win in the pool stages. But it evaporated into thin air again as we were well beaten by Japan. Our coach Joe Schmidt retires at the end of the RWC 2019 and to do this with the RWC sitting on your shelf would be the stuff of dreams

So we need to dream on. Super Saturday is on the way!
Joe sits on an unbeaten record of 75% in 75 games – it is a fantastic achievement, the best results of any coach we ever had. It is barely imaginable to think that we can beat the well-rested All Blacks in a RWC quarter final. I am confident that Schmidt will have a triple A plan to win the game but I am not sure he has the firepower to win the war with this squad. He is expecting a bullying and physical attitude from the AB’s and he has picked his most experienced side. I doubt if he thought he would have a full squad standing up at this stage of the RWC. Whether the AB’s take it to us gradual and cautious and build on superiority remains to be seen.
The All Blacks are also the holders of the cup for the last two editions in 2011 and 2015 (also won in 1987) and if you think for a second that we are motivated then think of the attitude and respect of the New Zealand nation to this competition. They are the giants.

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