As is often said, to be the best, you must beat the best. Ireland hopes that by reaching their inaugural Rugby World Cup semifinal, they can do just that in Saturday’s second semifinal at Stade de France (3:00 pm ET, Peacock). Ireland faces New Zealand at this crucial meeting and hopes for a historic win on Saturday!
Ireland has taken the world rugby rankings by storm this year, winning the Six Nations competition for the first time since 2018 and beating South Africa to secure Pool B victory by earning 19 out of 20 possible points.
However, none of that success could compare with victory on Saturday against one of the game’s premier names, one which has won three World Cups and reached four finals, not to mention making at least one semifinal appearance during each World Cup tournament since 1982.
Ireland will have achieved something great if they can tame this great beast, ending their history of defeat on this stage and recording an unprecedented 18th consecutive win!
Ireland has made it to the last eight of the Rugby World Cup eight times overall, four consecutive times; but never to the final four on any occasion.
However, most would agree that 2023 could be their year as they have fielded one of the strongest teams ever seen and now boast one of the longest active winning streaks among nations competing – currently 17 victories!
Ireland was considered one of the frontrunners to win the Webb Ellis Cup at its inception after they secured an unprecedented Grand Slam by going unbeaten throughout the Six Nations competition and dethroning Les Bleus as champions.
The Shamrocks breezed past Romania and Tonga in their initial two tournament matches before solidifying themselves as serious contenders by defeating the Springboks 13-8 in their third contest.
Andy Farrell’s side has excelled at maintaining ground control and pressuring opponents into conceding penalties, employing powerful runners such as Johnny Sexton to push opponents backwards easily.
Though Ireland is an unquestionable favorite, underestimating New Zealand is never recommended, and Farrell must find ways to neutralise their opponents’ running threat for 80 minutes, or they risk failing at the quarter-final stage again.
Given their narrow win against Australia and record loss to South Africa in warm-up matches at Twickenham, many had written off the All Blacks as potential contenders to win their fourth title at the start of the competition. But when all was said and done, some believed in their chances of taking home victory once more.
Losing to France 27-13 in their opening match didn’t do them much good, but that setback energised them, leading them onward with renewed vigour ever since.
Ian Foster’s team managed to return from their setback with two resounding victories against Namibia (71-3) and Italy (96-17), before sealing the second spot by dispatching Uruguay (73-0) last weekend at Groupama Stadium.
With three impressive wins under their belts already under Foster, his side will come into this blockbuster encounter full of confidence. It would take someone with great foresight to dismiss them from pulling off an unlikely victory against all odds in this one.
Ireland may hold the recent edge against New Zealand in this matchup, but New Zealand have long been dominant, losing only five times out of 36 meetings between these sides since 1905.
I am shaky on this pick mainly because of history, but I think Ireland will finally advance to the semifinals with a close 31-27 victory covering the spread.
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