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Paul O'Connell Has One Big Ireland Concern Ahead Of South Africa Rugby Showdown

Paul O'Connell Has One Big Ireland Concern Ahead Of South Africa Rugby Showdown
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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While Ireland will be hugely pleased with the way they blew Tonga out of the water to claim a second pool victory of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, they will be fully aware that they face an entirely different animal when they take on South Africa next weekend.

The fixtures in this tournament have fallen nicely for Andy Farrell's side, allowing them to fine-tune their game with opening fixtures against the two lesser nations in their group. They have made the most of that opportunity, producing a pair of high-scoring performances.

Of course, they will still need to improve if they are to get a result against the Springboks on Saturday. As Brian O'Driscoll pointed out on ITV last night, standards will have to be raised once again for what will be a telling game in terms of Ireland's World Cup prospects.

READ ALSO: World Rugby Rankings: Ireland v South Africa Game Will Decide World No.1

Paul O'Connell has Big Ireland concern ahead of South Africa Rugby game


While Ireland have excelled in quite a few areas over the first two games, there is one aspect of their performance against Tonga that concerned Paul O'Connell.

Speaking to RTÉ, the Irish forwards coach said that the penalty count is something they will need to address ahead of their next game.

We had a tricky period either side of half-time where we got on the wrong side of the penalty count. You saw in the big games last weekend, when that happens it can hurt you.

We conceded a try off the back of it, penalty after penalty and a yellow card, something we haven’t done in a while. It gives us something to work on now during the week. Otherwise it was really good.

They are a good side, and probably would have benefitted from a game last week. They were a bit of an unknown quantity for us. We were worried about the emotion of the whole thing, it being their first World Cup game, so to get the winning margin we did and score 59 points, we are really happy...

The work we have put in over the last few weeks, really pushing the drill, tweaking one or two things here and there. It was good to see it come to fruition.

READ ALSO: The Strong Irish Connections In The South Africa Rugby World Cup Squad

16 September 2023; Peter O’Mahony of Ireland after his side's victory in the 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between Ireland and Tonga at Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes, France. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Ireland conceded 13 penalties in the win over Tonga, while Peter O'Mahony also received a yellow card during the game. Remarkably, that was the first card the team had received in 2023.

Keeping 15 players on the pitch at all times will be key to their hopes of advancing deep into this tournament, as will limiting scoring and set-piece opportunities for their opponents by avoiding the concession of penalties.


That starts in the game against South Africa, where a victory would make a real statement about Ireland and their hopes of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in Paris next month.

SEE ALSO: Donal Lenihan Praises Andy Farrell For Ignoring South Africa Mind Games

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