Ireland V Australia : To Dare Is To Do


It’s difficult to assess how Joe Schmidt is viewing his second test in charge of Ireland. The Wallabies are in town on Saturday evening and with them they bring a severe test of ability and character from the Irish players. The Australian forwards are as hard as Ayers Rock itself, their backs can make flamboyancy look like just a reasonable effort. They are an extremely talented side on their day, off their day, they are ordinary, mediocre even. England showed us that they can be beaten, Italy showed us what happens to teams that let the Aussies play.

What frame of mind the travelling side are in is also hard to know? England beat them two weeks ago and beat them 20 – 13 without performing to any great standards. As bad as England looked at times during that game, they could still afford three Owen Farrell penalty misses. The English scrum were on top from the start and this gave them some kind of platform to eventually dictate the game. The Irish pack will have no doubt that there is a vulnerability there to be exposed, but expose it they must. Italy had the dream start against the Wallabies when they hosted the Australians last weekend. The Aussies dug in though and finished with a comprehensible victory that saw them put fifty points up on the scoreboard. Which team turns up to the Aviva on Saturday is anyone’s guess?

Australia may have the name of a great rugby nation, a nation in rugby that has claimed two World Cups but Ireland should not over or under estimate them. In other sports the Irish are noted for punching above their weight at times but in rugby we sometimes allow ourselves the comfort of that notion. The fact is that it’s far from the truth, we have unperformed in World Cups but our Six Nations tenure has seen us put the French and the English to the sword, the latter a World Cup winning nation struggled to beat us for the past number of years, (maybe our home game against England should always be held in Croke Park).

In the last five meetings against Australia, the record books will show a dead heat. Two wins each and a draw. If we take the total scores in those five games, Ireland would win 83 – 72. The point being here that we should have nothing to fear from the Wallabies, we have proved that we can hold our own against them. Ok so when we look at the overall record, Australia have by far the more convincing record. Having met thirty times, the Wallabies have twenty wins, nine losses and a draw and win with accumulative points on a score of 602 – 412.

This week’s game will give Schmidt an opportunity to paint belief onto the dressing room walls before the arrival of the All Blacks. Ireland can do what England managed to do last year and beat the current World Cup holders. Yes, we have never beaten them before but I feel that Schmidt has taken on a team that he sees obvious potential in. To have a chance against the New Zealanders we must beat Australia. Not just to lay down a marker to the opposition but to lay one down to ourselves.

This talk about Brian O’Driscoll somehow wanting to prove himself against Australia this weekend to show what he could have done in the last game of the Lions tour this summer, is farcical to say the least. O’ Driscoll graduated years ago from the school of proving yourself, he has been back since to claim a masters, he has nothing left to prove. Yes he would like to play well, but on his own terms, for his own reasons and not to somehow shout across the Irish Sea to Warren Gatland and say, ‘I told you so’. The simple truth is this, Rob Kearney may want to show what he’s capable of but not because of what did or didn’t happen last summer but because of what he and the rest of the squad want to happen this winter. Ireland must start rating themselves. Potential is the worst tag that any team can be bound by but lowering expectations is worse. This year, Ireland have the opportunity to give themselves the belief that they can be serious contenders to win the 2015 rugby World Cup. Why shouldn’t we? Beat Australia and the Autumn series will be seen as a success, lets up it a notch and win the last two games of the series. The impossible has never been so possible, believe.

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    • Fergal Cantwell
    • November 16th, 2013

    Big chance for Ireland to be taken seriously.

  1. November 14th, 2013

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