Of all the quarter final matches this weekend I reckon the Wales v Ireland game is the toughest to call.
Quite simply both teams have looked “fecking great” so far, something I wasn’t expecting to being saying at this stage of the tournament.
I mean, before the first ball was kicked, how many of you would have put money on:
a) Ireland beating Australia?
b) Wales beating Fiji 66 – 0?
I’m guessing not a lot. I certainly didn’t.
To be honest Ireland looked fairly hopeless in their warm up games. They lost 4 from 4 remember? Seems a long way away from the rugby they’re playing now.
And what about the Welsh…well they did beat a somewhat experimental English team in Cardiff, but the question marks about their ability to mix it with the “Big Boys” and maybe more accurately, to mix it with “Big Boys” when it mattered still remained.
Fast forward a few weeks and what we have is an Irish team who basically “bitch slapped” the Aussies into submission (yes Aussie fans I realise there was no Pocock or Moore!!) and a Welsh side who have not only stepped up to the plate in terms of physicality (within 1 point of the Boks) but who have also managed to combine that with, gasp!, a little bit of attacking flair. Sexy Rugby, if you like.
These two sides are just so evenly matched and both have that not so insignificant factor the pros like to call “momentum”, that I just can’t decide which way I think it’s going to go.
What I can say though is that in Sean O’Brien and in Sam Warburton, in Brian O’Driscoll and in Jamie Roberts, in Tommy Bowe and in Shane Williams there are going to be some rather special players out on the field. Game of the weekend I reckon.
Is it too much of a cop-out to say that whatever the result, at end of the day as long as “rugby is the real winner” I’ll be happy?
(Off the record: if I had a gun to my head and was forced to pick a winner I’d go with Ireland…only because my mate Mike is Irish and he’d be pissed if I tipped the Welsh).