The 1999 Rugby World Cup is not fondly remembered in Ireland. The loss to Argentina in Lens was a fitting end to an appalling decade for Irish rugby.
As in 1991, Ireland met Australia in Lansdowne Road and, as in 1991, Australia went on to win the World Cup. Unlike in 1991 however, there was never any doubt about the result in Lansdowne. Ireland were beaten handily 23-3.
But the manner in which the eventual champions went about preparing for the first World Cup of the professional era is worth recalling.
In the Sunday Times today, David Walsh interviewed Australian great Tim Horan, the wonderful centre who was at the heart of both the '91 and '99 successes.
Horan recalls their preparation which strikes one as impossibly quaint and charming when compared with the cryogenic baths and altitude training which are de rigueur today.
They hung around Portmarnock and played golf and drank Guinness.
We had a game of golf and didn’t train. We just had Guinness all afternoon, all night, all next day, and bonded. And I had my first eagle, well my only eagle playing golf on a par-4 there. I hit that 7-iron into the flag and we said ‘Where did that go?’
We walked up there and it was in the hole. We were staying out in Portmarnock, away from what was happening in the centre of Dublin, and we bonded as a team, got really close, understood where we were exactly going to go in the next six or seven weeks.
Most of the other teams were out training and we were having a game of golf and drinking Guinness to get over the jet lag.
A month later, the Aussies scooped the World Cup after defeating a scintillating French team 35-12 in Cardiff.