Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup: Ireland charter Best course

By Tony Ward

Published 20/09/2011

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Stephen Ferris of Ireland celebrates victory after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Stephen Ferris of Ireland celebrates victory after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Ireland's Paul O'Connell celebrates after the IRB Rugby World Cup match at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Irish fans celebrate victory at the final whistle during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies is high tackled by Rob Kearney of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: James O'Connor (R) of the Wallabies walks off dejected with Anthony Fainga'a after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: James O'Connor (C) of the Wallabies walks off dejected with team mates during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: James Horwill (L) and Sekope Kepu of the Wallabies look dejected after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Ireland fans celebrate victory after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Ireland fans celebrate victory after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Radike Samo (R) and Rob Simmons of the Wallabies look dejected during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Paul O'Connell of Ireland wins the line out ball during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: James Horwill of the Wallabies drops the ball under pressure from Paul O'Connell of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrates victory after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Mike Ross of Ireland charges forward during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Mike Ross of Ireland charges forward during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Rocky Elsom of the Wallabies walks off dejected after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: The rain comes down over the corner flag during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies is high tackled by Rob Kearney of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Quade Cooper of the Wallabies looks on during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: The rain comes down over the corner flag during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Ireland's Ronan O'Gara celebrates after the IRB Rugby World Cup match at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Irish fans celebrate victory at the final whistle during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Tom Court of Ireland and Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrate at the final whistle during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies looks dejected after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Quade Cooper of the Wallabies drops the high ball during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Ireland fans celebrate in the stands during the IRB Rugby World Cup match at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
Ireland fans celebrate in the stands during the IRB Rugby World Cup match at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
Australia's Kurtley Beale squares up to Ireland's Conor Murray (left) during the IRB Rugby World Cup match at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton celebrates after the IRB Rugby World Cup match at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
Ireland fans celebrate in the stands during the IRB Rugby World Cup match at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies takes a high ball during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: The Wallabies walk off the field dejected after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Paul O'Connell of Ireland (C) is congratulated after winning a penalty during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Irish fans celebrate victory at the final whistle during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Irish fans celebrate victory at the final whistle during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Irish fans celebrate victory at the final whistle during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland (L) encourages his team during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Sekope Kepu of the Wallabies walks off dejected after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Donncha O'Callaghan of Ireland ins the line out ball during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: The Wallabies walk off the field dejected after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Wallabies is charges forward during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Wallabies is charges forward during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Ireland's Ronan O'Gara celebrates after the IRB Rugby World Cup match at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Paul O'Connell, Tom Court and Stephen Ferris of Ireland celebrate victory at the final whistle during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Radike Samo and Saia Fainga'a of the Wallabies look on dejected adter the final whistle during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Will Genia of the Wallabies charges forward with the ball during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Tom Court (C) of Ireland celebrates victory with team mates during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: The Wallabies walk off the field dejected after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Will Genia and Quade Cooper of the Wallabies look on dejected adter the final whistle during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: James Horwill, captain of the Wallabies talks to his team as Rocky Elsom looks on during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Will Genia (L) of the Wallabies looks dejected with Radike Samo during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Brian O'Driscoll (L) and Keith Earls (R) of Ireland tackle Quade Cooper of the Wallabies during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Anthony Fainga'a of the Wallabies looks dejected during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: James Horwill of the Wallabies looks on during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: James Horwill, captain of the Wallabies looks dejected during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Wallabies charges forward past Jonathan Sexton of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Ronan O'Gara of Ireland converts a penalty during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Wallabies is tackled by Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Dan Vickerman and Radike Samo of the Wallabies look dejected during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland kicks a penalty during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: James Horwill of the Wallabies (R) looks dejected during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Eoin Reddan of Ireland passes the ball during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: James Horwill, captain of the Wallabies jumps for a lineout ball with Donncha O'Callaghan of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: (L-R) Dan Vickerman, Sekope Kepu and Rocky Elsom of the Wallabies look dejected during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Paul O'Connell of Ireland tries to reach for the ball from Radike Samo of the Wallabies during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies is high tackled by Rob Kearney of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Quade Cooper of the Wallabies jumps for a high ball during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies is high tackled by Rob Kearney of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Ireland and Australian Wallabies fans look on during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: An Ireland fan looks on ahead of the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: A Wallabies fan soaks up the atmosphere during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Wallabies and Ireland fans soak up the atmosphere during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Wallabies fans soak up the atmosphere during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Ireland fans soak up the atmosphere ahead of the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: A masked Ireland fan looks on ahead of the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Will Genia of the Wallabies is tackled by Jamie Heaslip of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Will Genia of the Wallabies is tackled by Donncha O'Callaghan (L) and Paul O'Connell of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland gives intructions during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Rocky Elsom of the Wallabies wins the lineout ball during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Pat McCabe of the Wallabies is tackled by Keith Earls of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
An Ireland fan in the stands during the IRB Rugby World Cup match at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies tackles Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Ben McCalman and Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies tackle Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland drives on past Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Quade Cooper of the Wallabies charges forward during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Paul O'Connell of Ireland tries to reach for the ball from Radike Samo of the Wallabies during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Pat McCabe of the Wallabies is tackled by Sean O'Brien of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies is tackled by Rob Kearney of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Ben McCalman and Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies tackle Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Ben Alexander of the Wallabies is high tackled by Rob Kearney of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: A Wallabies fan looks on during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Keith Earls of Ireland is tackled by Pat McCabe of the Wallabies during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Will Genia of the Wallabies is tackled by Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell and Mike Ross of Ireland and during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Tommy Bowe of Ireland is tackled by Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Wallabies during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Radike Samo of the Wallabies is tackled by Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Sean O'Brien of Ireland grabs the ball ahead of Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Sean O'Brien of Ireland and Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies scramble for the ball during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies tackles Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

In turning the form book on its head in Auckland, Brian O'Driscoll and his team-mates not only restored Irish faith — both within the squad and among supporters — but also took this predictable World Cup in a whole new direction.

The apparent certainty of an all-Antipodean final at Eden Park on October 23 is now effectively dead and buried. It could still happen but would require an extraordinary set of results to make what appeared the seemingly inevitable now occur.

Ireland beating Australia marks the first big upheaval of this World Cup and follows on from Wales' gallant effort when losing to South Africa by a single point in a match they should have won.

Does it mean the tide is turning the northern hemisphere's way? Not a bit of it — the big southern hemisphere three are still leading the way, but on any given day any of the Six Nations teams are well capable of putting it up to the Kiwis, Springboks and Wallabies.

The difference last Saturday was that Ireland closed it out and with the type of conviction that will have the Tri-Nations teams preparing like never before for possible bushwhacking.

The flip side of that coin from an Irish perspective is that confidence has been restored. The trick now is to keep a lid on self-belief — a modicum of doubt in the camp is never a bad thing. That sickly feeling of maybe letting yourself, your team-mates and your country down must never be removed entirely in the build-up to any game.

The challenge for any head coach is in striking the proper balance and there is no one better than Declan Kidney in getting that aspect right. After this morning's Italy versus Russia clash, every team is now at the halfway point in their respective pools and it looks like a very definite change in trend towards the knockout phase.

Ireland still have much to do — particularly against the Italians — to top the pool, but we are now in charge of our own destiny. Whereas the Australians had mapped their route (in avoiding South Africa and New Zealand) towards a fourth World Cup final, it now appears as if the Tri-Nations teams will be in a shoot-out (along with the winner of Scotland versus Argentina), which leaves England, Ireland, France and Wales to battle it out in the other half of the draw. All of which points to a sixth north v south final in the seven tournaments to date.

While only England (in 2003) have arrested southern hemisphere domination, the gap is nowhere near as great as some would have you believe. I still feel this tournament is New Zealand's to lose, but don't write off the Boks who, though extremely limited in ambition, have the essential components to suffocate any team in a one-off match — the All Blacks included.

As for Ireland, we are now the adopted team of the host nation. By putting the Wallabies to the sword we became every Kiwi's second favourite team.

However, we have also just channelled Australia into a potential semi-final showdown with the All Blacks, something they might not exactly thank us for. Either way, Ireland's victory and the manner of it has given everyone (Australians apart) a massive boost.

As for Cian Healy, Rory Best and Mike Ross, their combination (particularly at scrum time) represents an Irish side transformed and proof positive of the significance the set-piece still has in the modern game. And there is the boost to collective morale the victory over the Aussies and the timing of it will have had.

A new era hasn't begun in Auckland but an experienced one with buckets of hunger has been resurrected.

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph