You can’t take away an Irish sense of humor that quickly. “Think about it. ‘Just don’t jinx it’, that’s the Guinness brewer’s slogan in a commercial during the Rugby World Cup in France. It’s directed at our compatriots, don’t expect too much from this final round. After all, as the saying goes on the island Hope kills you.
The Irish national rugby team has been ranked number one in the world for several months and is therefore one of the big favorites to win the title. In addition, the Irish shirt is currently worn by the best player in the world, winger Josh van der Flier. But the Irish team has never progressed beyond the World Cup quarter-finals. That’s why, in the Guinness commercial, when people are asked what their expectations are, people say, “Group stage. It’s great.”
Now this was the Irish’s third match in the group at Stade de France, and after two clear opening victories over Romania (82:8) and Tonga (59:16), this was the first real indication of where the journey could go in 2023. The finals were not Less than a duel with South Africa. World No. 1 vs. World No. 2. World Cup candidate vs. World Cup holder. It was an epic affair.
“I have no words”
The referee’s penalty whistle ended a South African attack two meters from the goal line, leaving them celebrating a 13-8 win, the Boys in Green on the pitch and the tens of thousands in the stands who had traveled here. And for the wonderful atmosphere that was taken care of. “I have no words. I’ve never faced anything like this before,” said Bondi Ake, who was honored as the game’s Most Valuable Player.
However, in this emotional match in Saint-Denis, it was South Africa who entered the match in a more dominant form. The Irish committed a lot of fouls and errors in the opening phase, and were particularly unstable when it came to throw-ins. “What a disaster so far,” was the Irish TV commentator’s quick conclusion.
South Africa pushed hard to score an early goal, but they were only able to partially exploit their opponent’s weakness and only led 3-0 for a long period thanks to a penalty kick. The narrow lead was disappointing.
But despite starting out weak, Ireland has recovered admirably. After a burst of energy from Bendy Ake, the world number one was wide awake, and in the 33rd minute, Mack Hansen scored the first try of the match. At half time Ireland led 7-3.
Then the South African national team established itself once again in the opponent’s half. In the 51st minute, Cheslin forgot about Kolbe in a move and threw himself into the goal to give the South Africans the lead again.
But Ireland increased the tempo again, scoring two goals from a penalty kick across the crossbar, and withstood the pressure that increased significantly towards the end. “You gave us a real fight,” Aki praised. (how)