Five talking points for Ireland ahead of the Springboks

In a crucial Rugby World Cup match in Paris, Ireland will face the reigning world champions South Africa.

Following bonus-point triumphs over Romania and Tonga, Andy Farrell’s team is in first place in Pool B, while the Springboks have also started the tournament with two wins in a row.

The PA news agency selects a few of the key discussion points here.

World number one versus world number two

In one of the most widely anticipated pool stage matches in World Cup history, two of Test rugby’s top sides face off.

Since their historic tour victory in New Zealand last summer, Ireland has been in the lead. However, because the draw was set based on the rankings at the start of 2020, they will meet the reigning champions early in the competition.

While Ireland’s head coach Farrell believes the majority of people anticipate his team to lose, bookmakers currently put South Africa as slight favorites. The Englishman acknowledges the significance of the fixture but says it is not a “do or die” situation.

Defusing the ‘Bomb Squad’

The audacious choice made by South Africa to stock their bench with a seven-to-one split of forwards and backs has received a lot of attention. In their resounding 35-7 warm-up victory over the All Blacks last month, the Springboks effectively applied the novel tactic.

By utilizing it in a World Cup match for the first time, South Africa manager Jacques Nienaber has divided opinion. Meanwhile, a mock-up image circulating on social media of opposing coach Farrell in a blast suit has amused some Ireland players.

The former dual-code player advised his team to play to their own abilities and downplayed the relevance of South Africa’s tactical statement of purpose.

Quarter-finals calling

With one game remaining, Ireland has the chance to clinch a quarterfinal position; however, South Africa might get far closer to the last eight. The Six Nations champions have prevailed in seven of the last 11 encounters, including a victory of 19-16 in November.

This week, Rassie Erasmus, the director of rugby for the Springboks, made mention of the head-to-head results as well as the fact that Ireland has never prevailed in a World Cup knockout game.

Although a number of his pals claimed that Ireland is our bogey team, he clarified that the World Cup is actually Ireland’s bogey tournament. The winners will likely finish first in Pool B and likely escape the hosts France in the next round.

Home away from home

Ireland hopes to make Paris its permanent home for the next five weeks after stays in Bordeaux and Nantes. Up to five of their remaining games will all take place at Stade de France.

In recent years, the stadium has not made for the best hunting grounds. In the 40 games of Farrell’s leadership, Saint-Denis has seen two of the seven defeats, which included costly Six Nations losses to France in 2020 and 2022.

But the game this weekend will have a different atmosphere. Ireland will be supported by over 30,000 traveling supporters, giving a neutral venue the atmosphere of a home match rather than having to deal with a partisan crowd.

Farrell a big fan of “world-class” Dan

Ireland has thus far had a lucky streak in terms of injuries. However, the facial fracture that has raised questions about France captain Antoine Dupont’s ability to continue playing in the competition serves as a reminder to all teams of the possibility of losing important players.

First-choice hooker Dan Sheehan is back on the bench this weekend, waiting for his first game since suffering a foot injury in the team’s victory over England in the warm-up match last month. This is a huge plus.

Since making his Test debut less than two years ago, Sheehan has excelled. The Leinster player was praised as “world class” by Farrell, and his availability might be very important going forward.

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