Wales v Ireland QF preview: You may as well just toss a coin…

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).

It'll be tears for one of these two on Saturday...(don't let the Brazilian flag on her bosom fool you...she's a massive O'gara fan!)

Ronan O’Gara tells it like it is

Are you tired of clichéd post match interviews?                                                                  Tired of hearing the same old regurgitated lines match after match?

Well then click away and allow Ronan O’Gara to change your perception of how moving and honest a post match interview can actually be.

Fantastic display by the Irish on Saturday morning! Those boys pretty much made my weekend, even taking the Boks clinical performance against the Fijians into account.

High Five to you Ronan for letting your guard down and allowing yourself to come across like an actual human being instead of just another media trained, PR managed, vacuous sports playing bore.

I’ll have some more of this please…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXt6GtMxOI8]

Celtic tiger caged by dominant English

Well it seems the Celtic tiger has lost some of its roar, with Ireland whimpering to their 4th straight defeat in a row… AND to add insult to injury (literally in the case of flanker David Wallace who sustained a blow to the knee) it was by losing to England for the first time since 2003.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney looked like he was about to pass a stone as he watched his teams ineffectual performance. While Wilkinson kept the scoreboard ticking over with his usual clockwork-like precision, the highlight of the match for the home crowd was watching full-back Murphy’s try saving tackle on Manu Tuilagi, after the Anglo-Samoan made a 70m run from his own twenty-two. It was like watching a greyhound tracking down a rampaging rhino.

The Irish seemed genuinely lost at sea without General Maximus O’Driscoll to call the shots and rally the team spirit with one of his rousing ‘I have a dream’ speeches. From an English fan’s point of view, things are looking promising leading up to the World Cup. In fact, at one point something resembling a smile (though it’s hard to tell when someone’s had that much reconstructive surgery) appeared to cross Martin Johnson’s face. And yes…it was a faintly disturbing sight.

Ireland's World Cup mascot 'Punch-drunk the Tiger'