With the announcement of the fixture and ticketing schedules for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England made earlier today, now is as good a time as any to let the speculation begin.
Ireland are in Pool D with France, Italy, Canada and ‘Europe 2′. That final spot is still up for decision, and may not be decided until as late as March 2014. As things stand, Romania are in line to fill the slot, but Georgia, Russia and maybe even Portugal are also in contention.
Either way, Ireland will expect wins against ‘Europe 2′, Canada and Italy. The latter have improved in recent seasons and can compete with any team on their day, but Ireland will be favourites for the World Cup encounter.
Ideally, and barring any disasters, Joe Schmidt’s men will arrive at the final pool game against France with three wins already in the bag.
If that proves to be the case, a victory over France would see Ireland topping Group D and drawing the runner-up of Pool C in the quarter finals. The big names in that group are New Zealand, Argentina and Tonga. At the moment, it’s the Pumas who look the likely runners-up, so that would mean…
Having overcome the Argentinians with a Luke Marshall hat-trick, Ireland would progress to semi-final 2 against the winners of quarter-final 4. That clash will draw Pool A winners Australia/England/Wales against the runners up of Pool B, Samoa/Scotland. For arguments sake, we’re going to go for England as the victors.
An heroic last-minute penalty from Jonny Sexton having seen us over the semi-final hurdle, Schmidt would turn his side’s attention to the matter of the World Cup Final. Awaiting Ireland would be the mighty All Blacks, miraculously unbeaten over the past three years and having swept aside France and South Africa in the knock-out stages. For Ireland, revenge for 2013 in Dublin would be sweet.
We will have our revenge. ©INPHO/James Crombie.
Ireland’s route to World Cup success (as Pool D runners up)
If Ireland manage to win all of their pool clashes apart from the final one against France, it seems likely that their Gallic rivals would top the group, leaving us to play the winners of Pool C in the quarter-finals. Bring it on we say, as it would only mean an earlier crack at the All Blacks.
Having pulled off a miraculous win against the All Blacks, with tries from Iain Henderson and Robbie Henshaw, Schmidt would turn his troops attention to an equally imposing challenge in the semi-finals. The bruising Springboks would have overcome Australia in their quarter-final after topping Pool B.
A semi-final against the ‘Boks would be a fiery affair. ©INPHO/James Crombie.
A nail-biting win over the ‘Boks would be secured with some powerful Sean O’Brien-led forward play and a second half try from flying wing Simon Zebo. With belief flowing through the side and media fervour at an all-time high, Ireland would prepare themselves for the dream final against home nation England.
We can dream the dream. Do you think either of the above is possible?
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