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The Unimpressed International Media Reaction To Ireland 'Tiptoeing' Into The Quarter-Finals

The Unimpressed International Media Reaction To Ireland 'Tiptoeing' Into The Quarter-Finals
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Paul O'Connell labelled Ireland's performance against Italy on Sunday as 'flat'.

He was right, it was flatter than that bottle of 7-Up your grandmother swore could cure all ails.

To paraphrase one of the great GAA cliches, you could say 'penultimate Rugby World Cup group stage matches are for winning'. That excuse does not leave you with much comfort however.

The Irish performance, unsurprisingly, left media beyond our shores underwhelmed.

Sean Ingle of The Guardian felt that the game lived up to its negative billing, and then some.

This was not as grim and attritional as some of us had feared. It was worse. It was a match from the old school: attritional, largely risk-free and, particularly in Ireland’s case, too disjointed for a team considered to be the fourth favourites to lift the Rugby World Cup. Their 16-9 victory ensures they will qualify for the knockout stages, but they will need to significantly improve against France next weekend if they are to top Group D and avoid the All Blacks in the quarter-finals.

The list of positives that Ireland can take from this game is not a long one.

Responding to a question in the New Zealand Herald, Kiwi journalist Michael Guerin said that he wants Ireland in the quarter-finals.

I want Ireland. Ireland were poor this morning and we know France can beat us but Ireland have never beaten us, so why wouldn't we take Ireland.

For Tom Peck of Independent.co.uk, the Irish performance left supporters at the Olympic Stadium uninspired.


Irish fans dominated the 53,189 who filled this vast sweeping bowl, but they never came close to raising its roof. They were never given a reason to. Occasional refrains of “Fields of Athenry” drifted gently off into the Stratford evening, haunting and melodic, but it was never hairs on the back of the neck stuff.

With England gone, Wales wounded, the reigning Six Nations champions might have been daring to imagine themselves real challengers for this tournament, in which England’s 2003 triumph remains the sole northern hemisphere victory.

There may yet be spine-tingling moments to come from this talented bunch of players, but whatever they achieve in the coming weeks will be in spite of this laboured and uncertain performance, not because of it.

The Scotsman's Tom Allbutt opines that Joe Schmidt's side have only 'tiptoed' into the knockout stages.

Ireland clung on, looking ragged at times. Schmidt’s men forced a penalty to the crowd’s relief, only for Sexton to drag it wide. Italy broke again, still refusing to accept there could be no comeback. But Ireland turned the ball over once more, Sexton punted for touch, and O’Connell and company tiptoed their way to the last eight.


Mike Walters for Mirror.co.uk


Ireland were relieved to stumble into the World Cup quarter-finals with a grinding, no-frills performance that saw off Six Nations rivals Italy 16-9, surviving a nervous last eight minutes after forward Peter O'Mahony was sent to the sin bin.

Jonny Sexton's reliable right foot and centre Keith Earls' eighth World Cup try – an Irish record – set up a shoot-out with France in Cardiff next Sunday for the right to avoid holders New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

But it will take more than a few bars of Fields Of Athenry to frighten the All Blacks, and Ireland coach Joe Schmidt admitted: “A one-score game is pretty tough on the heart.

Our pragmatic style was too much for the Guardian's Dan Lucas on their live blog of the game.

That was awful. If there was any justice in the world, both of these teams would be kicked out on aesthetic grounds, with Fiji and Japan allowed through in their stead.

A little bit of positivity from Tristan Barclay for ESPN.


Ireland have been far from perfect this evening but have proven they can win ugly in the face of a bruising Italian effort. The Azzurri were mean in the tackle and disruptive at the breakdown, but in the end Irish experience and quality told. That itself shows you something about the title credentials of Joe Schmidt's side. They have been able to put the half-century of points on the likes of Canada, but against Tier One opponents they have shown they can hunker down and pick off their penalties. Italy go out of the tournament with an effort of which they can be proud. England fans would have handed over several limbs for a victory like Ireland's today.

Tom Cary for The Telegraph

It will not quite be the inquest faced by England’s management this morning, but Ireland’s coaching staff are likely to face a few ­searching questions after their team’s first stut­tering performance at this Rugby World Cup.

Joe Schmidt’s men, who had looked so crisp and clinical in vic­tories against Canada and Romania, eventually ground out a 16-9 win over an Italian team inspired in part by the return of their talismanic captain, Sergio Parisse. And in so doing they ensured their passage to the quarter-finals.

Gavin Rich for South Africa outlet Supersport thought the Irish support to be muted.

The previous Irish games at RWC 2015 have been noted for the vocal Irish support, but in this game, perhaps because some of the seats are so far away from the action in a stadium that was built for the athletics events at the 2012 London Olympics, the crowd was at times eerily silent.

Ireland might have got their supporters to be more noisy had they taken the game by the scruff, but they seldom threatened to do that.

Finally, they do love Iain Henderson over at Rugby World.

He’s been in this column before and he no doubt will be again. The Ulster lock has fast established himself as a key member of Ireland’s team with his all-action displays. Athletic is a fitting word do describe Henderson’s performance in a game at the Olympic Stadium. He fits the bill in the tight and the loose – rampaging with ball in hand, strong in defence, solid at the set-piece and he even charged down a Tommaso Allan kick too.

Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Player Ratings: Here's How We Rated Ireland In Squeaky Italian Win

See Also: The Forgotten Story Of Johnny Sexton's Stabbing Cropped Up Again On Sunday

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