For its entry into the World Cup, Ireland scattered Romania "puzzle style" (82-8) at the Stade de Bordeaux on September 9. The only real uncertainty in this match resided in the number of tries that the Irish, leaders of the world rankings and winners of the last Six Nations Tournament, were going to inflict on the Romanians, as the two teams do not box in the same category.
In a particularly tough Group B including South Africa, Scotland and Tonga, Romania, only 19th nation in the world, is, in fact, the weak link. In ten confrontations between the two countries, the players of the Carpathians have never won a single match against those of the Green Erin.
Although the thermometer showed 32 degrees at the time of kick-off, that is to say in the middle of the afternoon (3:30 p.m.), the Irish did not seem bothered by the heat and were able to recite their scales, to the great joy of their supporters, numerous in a copiously packed Bordeaux venue (41,000 spectators), unlike their invisible Romanian counterparts. For the green tide who made the trip to Gironde, the trip was an Irish stroll without a false note, apart from a few sunburns.
Winner 82 to 8 by scoring 12 tries, the XV du Trèfle, which has never gone beyond the quarter-final stage in nine appearances at the World Cup, started the 2023 edition in the best possible way. After a rough start to the match and a nice try conceded in the 3rd minute at the end of the line to the Romanian scrum-half Gabriel Rupanu, the green machine got going and played its rugby.
The return of the jailer
In the end, the Irish performed at the top of their class, admiring their slick play made up of precise passes, including numerous off-loads (passes after contact). They administered a rugby lesson to rough but unimaginative Romanians. After the first cool break, in the 20th minute, the fate of the match was already sealed: the Irish supporters could throw a first ola and start singing.
To play in the right tempo, you need a conductor at the helm. For his 114th selection, fly-half Jonathan Sexton showed off his class, scoring 24 points and scoring two tries, while only missing a corner conversion. The Irish opener, who is playing his fourth world championship, should soon become the best scorer in the history of his country since he is only 9 points behind the record holder, Ronan O'Gara. In the meantime, he is already the best scorer in the World Cup.
The captain and playing master of the Irish team was, however, short of competition since he had not set foot on a pitch for six months. The fault lies with an adductor injury in March, during the last day of the Six Nations Tournament, then a suspension for having criticized the refereeing body a little too strongly during the Champions Cup final, at the end of May, at the end of May. Aviva Stadium in Dublin, between his club Leinster and La Rochelle, a match he did not play because he was injured.
While he was risking a lot, the authorities of international rugby did him a favor, only condemning him to a three-game suspension, served during Ireland's preparation phase for the World Cup. It is therefore him, Jonathan Sexton, who is leading the game as one of the four favorites for final victory in this World Cup, with South Africa, France and New Zealand.
Out in the 66th minute after scoring his second try, Sexton was given a standing ovation by the Celtic people. Because he may be 38 years old, have a bad character and a body weakened by numerous injuries and concussions, his vision remains essential to the XV of Clover. He has long announced that this tournament will be his last before retirement. Having spent time with Racing 92 between 2013 and 2015, a period which left him with nothing but good memories, the Dubliner knows France well and makes no secret of the fact that he would love to steal the Webb Ellis trophy from the Tricolores.
After this first success, the Irish will be able to prepare in peace for their next two group matches, against the Tongans on September 16, then against the Springboks on September 23. This meeting against the reigning champion, which promises to be the top of the group, will decide the name of the team which should challenge France in the quarter-finals, on October 14 or 15. The only certainty, for the moment, is that the World Cup will end this weekend for two of the four tournament favorites.