The question put by the Indo’s Ruairidh O’Connor to Paul O’Connell was along the lines of :
“can we at least allow ourselves to include Ireland as one of the teams with aspirations of winning the Webb Ellis trophy?”
and the answer he quoted Paulie giving was…
"I think that's fair," he said. "There's no doubt that we're far from favourites going in to it, but we know that, on our day, when we are firing on all cylinders, that we can do damage to teams. The problem is that there are probably a lot of teams who feel the same way."
and from all that we got the headline…
Paul O'Connell: 'I think it is fair to say we can win the World Cup'
Hey..maybe it’s not quite a direct quote as it suggests, but it’s what goes on in headline-writing these days, and I’m certainly not going to claim any high ground there.
But while the Irish skipper and Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year did all the right things in toning down his words, the journey to the headline is more of a skip than a leap.
Then we have the team vice-captain, a Mr J Heaslip, offering a contribution to the site “The Players Tribune” where he seriously dials down the toning…
“Now let me make something clear: We’re not going to England to get to the semi-finals and be knocked out. I want to win the damn thing!”
I know there’s a lot of talk like this ahead of competitions and it kind of goes without saying that everyone involved wants to win it all. But from an Irish standpoint, I reckon these statements are key to our understanding the air of positivity and professionalism that seems to be around the Ireland camp these days.
You’re reading an independent blog right now so chances are you’re a pretty serious rugby fan. And as I’m sure you’re aware, as the World Cup draws nearer and the hype clicks through the gears towards warp speed, more and more people with just a passing interest in the sport are going to take notice, and those in your social circle are going to ask you how you really rate Ireland’s chances.
I say this because I have been asked just that since the beginning of the summer and the question is becoming more frequent now that we’ve not only played but also pretty much dominated a test match to begin our build up. So I have had to try and come up with a soundbite to sum up our chances in as few words as possible.
“We won’t DEFINITELY win*, but we DEFINITELY can.”
There will be plenty of time for analysis, for measuring angles of prop’s body positions driving forward, for studying lines run by centres, for arguing over who should be starting, who should be on the bench and who shouldn’t even be in the squad. Plenty of time to question the gameplan, the overall tactics, the ability to adapt to what your opposition is doing if necessary ( < my own personal biggest concern) , and of course, that old chestnut the standard of officiating.
But all that opinion needs to be built on the bedrock of a realistic sense of how far these lads can go. And I for one want us to start believing. And I’m very happy to learn the leaders within the squad itself believe it too.
Of course it would be silly to dial up the levels of expectation too loud, but they can certainly be at a higher decibel level than they have ever been before and I’d go as far as to say the lads almost require that kind of confidence from us to help them keep their eyes on the prize.
The USA soccer team has had a chant going for the past while...
“I believe that…I believe that we…I believe that we can win!!!”
Wouldn’t it be just awesome if we Irish fans adopted that for ourselves???
Eh, no, of course it wouldn’t. Hope you didn’t even think for a second I was serious! ;-)
BUT...if any of us don’t quite think our belief system is quite there yet, maybe we could at least hum it to ourselves for a while to help it along?
What have you been telling your not-so-rugby-mad friends about our chances?
* = amazing the difference between that and when you flip the middle two words - “We definitely won’t win”!
#COYBIG #ShoulderToShoulder #TrustJoe #FourProudProvinces