World champions host Ireland

21 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
World champions host Ireland

eBusiness Weekly

For many, Ireland were the most impressive team at the 2023 World Cup until New Zealand caught them in the quarter-finals to win an epic contest on one of the lowest days in Irish rugby history.

Within Ireland’s World Cup pool they even defeated eventual tournament winners South Africa in a titanic Paris tussle, all of which nicely sets up July’s two-Test series between the sides.

For all South Africa’s success of recent times, their bogey team has been Ireland.

Indeed the last three meetings have seen the northern hemisphere side clinch victory (September 2023, November 2022, November 2017).

That World Cup Pool B defeat for the Springboks put them on a collision course with hosts France and could so easily have seen South Africa limp out at the quarter-final stage.

Instead, three improbable one-point victories over Les Bleus, England and New Zealand saw them to another title win.

Lifting the Webb Ellis trophy saw South Africa regain the world’s No 1 ranking, overtaking Ireland who remain at No 2.

Since the World Cup, Ireland dusted themselves down to win another Six Nations in 2024, but missed out on a Grand Slam with last-gasp defeat at Twickenham, while their performance to secure the title was far from their best at home to Scotland.

Question marks for Andy Farrell then, as his side embark on what is sure to be two extremely tough assignments in Pretoria and Durban, and that off the back of Ireland’s provinces ending their seasons
trophyless.

Led by the controversial and volatile Rassie Erasmus, a host of Springboks have also been talking about Ireland in a negative light leading up to this series.

Eben Etzebeth said 12 Irish players wrote off New Zealand before playing them at the World Cup, Damian de Allende claimed “Irish people aren’t emotional” and Cheslin Kolbe dismissed Ireland’s credentials as potential World Cup winners.

Former Ireland wing Simon Zebo has also claimed recently Erasmus “hates Ireland”.

There is sure to be no lack of spice in this series.

Ireland’s summer fixtures

(UK and Irish time)

Saturday July 6 — South Africa vs Ireland

Saturday July 13 — South Africa vs Ireland. — skysports

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