'World Cup will be a wide open competition' - Ireland coach Andy Farrell

Ireland will enter the Rugby World Cup as the top ranked team
Ireland will enter the Rugby World Cup as the top ranked team

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is expecting a stiff challenge at the Rugby World Cup with his side kicking off their campaign against Romania in Bordeaux on Saturday.

Ireland are part of a tough Pool B in the showpiece event that also has defending champions South Africa and an in-form Scotland side alongside Tonga and Romania.

The unequal distribution of teams in the pool stage draw is causing concern among many, with fears arising that what could be considered Ireland's best-ever team might face another quarter-final exit in the tournament

"Everyone wants it to be like that because there's so many good teams that can compete with each other on any given day.

"And the pressures of the competition within itself, the history of all that shows that it is going to be a wide open competition anyway, you know.

"So one step at a time. Let's see if we can build some momentum."

Farrell has already guided his team to remarkable achievements, notably orchestrating an unprecedented tour victory in New Zealand last summer.

As a result of this historic triumph, Ireland reached the pinnacle of the world rankings and have steadfastly maintained that position. Their continued success is in part attributable to a significant autumn win against the world champions, South Africa, and their attainment of a Six Nations grand slam.

Despite their consistent performances over the years, Ireland have never gone past quarter-finals in the tournament but Farrell is confident that they can go the distance in France.

Asked if Ireland are concentrating on the trophy, he replied: “Why wouldn’t we?

“There’s an attitude within the group that we chase every day to make sure we’re better as a team, better as individuals.

“But what we’ve done in the past adds to a little bit of belief, how we are pushing to get better.

“We’ll be judged in the coming weeks but the confidence that we hope to have going into a World Cup has to be rock solid.

“There’s no point turning up for a World Cup if we don’t believe we can win it.”


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