Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

O'Sullivan won't walk despite his side's flop in France

Eddie O'Sullivan's men needed to score four tries and beat Argentina by eight points to get through but they crashed to a 15-point defeat

Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan last night refused to fall on his sword despite seeing his side crash out of the world cup at the pool stages for the first time in the tournament's history.

Argentina exacted a ruthless revenge for their World Cup exit at the hands of Ireland four years in Australia, coasting to a 30-15 victory at the Parc des Princes to top Pool D and book a quarter-final clash against Scotland in Paris next Sunday.

Wingers Lucas Borges and Horacio Agulla crossed in the first half for the Pumas, Felipe Contepomi booted 11 points and Juan Martin Hernandez weighed in with a hat-trick of drop goals as Ireland mustered only two tries by Brian O'Driscoll and Geordan Murphy, with Ronan O'Gara adding a penalty and conversion.

France's bonus-point 64-7 victory over Namibia yesterday salvaged a second place finish for the hosts, who now head for a mouth-watering showdown with New Zealand in Cardiff on Saturday.

Ireland, who had gone into yesterday's game needing to win and score four tries in the process to reach the quarter-finals, now head home in a hugely disappointing climax for a team that arrived in France with ambitions of lifting the Webb Ellis trophy.

Many of the Irish supporters who had made the trip to France afterwards expressed their anger at their team's sorry exit, calling for O'Sullivan's head.

The Irish Rugby Football Union, however, handed O'Sullivan a four-year extension to his contract just before the tournament and O'Sullivan last night said he intended to see it out.

"I'm totally committed to this job," said the under-fire coach. "I still have a contract to run and every intention of seeing it through.

"I have the appetite for the job and I want to see it out. This has been a tough World Cup, no question about it. Things haven't gone to plan, but that's no reason to walk away. I've never walked away from a challenge in my life and I don't intend to start now.

"I am very disappointed to be out of the World Cup and I would like to congratulate Argentina for achieving their goal of reaching the quarter-finals.

"This was a very difficult pool and we knew we would have to bring our A game here and we haven't done that."

O'Sullivan added: " Today was a big mountain to climb. It wasn't a straight forward game where a one-point win would get us across the line like it did four years ago.

"We had a different agenda today and that coloured the game for us and Argentina. We played as much as we could for 80 minutes, but it was hard work out there and we didn't get the rewards we were looking for."

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