Is The RWC 2019 Schedule Actually A Blessing For Ireland?
Can Ireland finally break their duct and reach a semi-final or better?
Any who watched Ireland’s last two Rugby World Cup games knows the following…
In the game against France; Ireland won, but at a huge cost to their small leadership group and with the Argentina game; there was a lack of leadership or experience in key areas.
Yes, there was the likes of Kearney, Murray, Best and Heaslip and even Tommy Bowe to try and calm the storm. However, when you’re missing Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien, Johnny Sexton and the trained 13 in Jared Payne, the Ireland team did not function how it was designed to. Joe Schmidt has accepted this on numerous occasions since that a lack of depth in the squad and a lack of leaders cost them the game.
Jump forward to 2017 and Ireland is oozing talent in almost every position, if not all of them. Leadership is also less of an issue now, but with Rory Best to reach his 37th Birthday before the 2019 tournament kicks off, this could be an issue. However, with Peter O’Mahony tipped to be the next captain and a new crop of young players taking up similar mantles, leadership might not be as big an issue this time.
Ireland’s Rugby World Cup 2019 Pool 1 Schedule
- Ireland v Scotland, Sunday 22 September, International Stadium, Yokohama, 7.45am (Irish time)
- Ireland v Japan, Saturday 28 September, Shizuoka Stadium ECOPA, Shizuoka Prefecture, 7.15am (Irish time)
- Ireland v Europe 1, Thursday 3 October, Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe, 10.15am (Irish time)
- Ireland v play-off winner, Saturday 12 October, Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka, 10.45am (Irish time)
With all this in mind, the reason why the 2019 Rugby World Cup Schedule could be a blessing for Ireland is because of injuries. They are bound to happen. Before the 2015 World Cup, Tommy O’Donnell was on form until he was stretchered off in Cardiff in the warm up series. And during the competition, the prior mentioned catastrophe in the France game is enough to make any Irish fan shudder.
In theory, the games where Ireland are most likely to have injuries are the first two games against Scotland and Japan. Now, with two games against less challenging teams to follow, Ireland would A: have more time to fly backup players over to Japan and B: be able to integrate them into the squad before the tough Quarter Final comes round.
This should make damage control on key injuries a lot easier for the Ireland coaching team and with a Quarter Final, presumably against South Africa or New Zealand, on the way, damage control and a good structure to replacements is going to be essential.