Ireland the unlucky: will they ever win a quarter-final in the World Cup?

Harry Jones Roar Guru

By , Harry Jones is a Roar Guru

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    Joe Schmidt must wonder which leprechaun, blarney stone or banshee he needs to kiss.

    Having slain the indomitable All Black dragon, buried the vulnerable Boklings, climbed to a lofty ranking and won the respect of the rugby world for his well-drilled and brutally physical squad, he likely faces yet another quarter-final exit at the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

    For the unfamiliar, the Irish have appeared in all eight World Cups, made it to the quarter-finals six times, and never reached the semis.

    But won’t the world No. 3 sail through to the final four this time? Probably not, I say.

    Schmidt will look askance at Michael Cheika’s Wallaby pathway to the semifinals. Australia merely has to build more Pool D points than Georgia, Fiji, a qualifier from the Americas and the team the Wallabies love to beat: the Welsh.

    In between each pool match, Cheika’s men get 7-9 days rest.

    The smart money will be on the Wallabies to top Pool D and get nine days rest after the Georgia game before fronting France or Argentina in Oita, Japan.

    Cheika’s team will be favoured to roll either of these deeply dysfunctional sides; the Wallabies will likely have a fresh David Pocock back, as well as a more seasoned second row with a lethal backline.

    It is difficult to imagine Australia failing to reach the semifinals, where they will run into old friends South Africa or one of the Celtic tigers, Ireland or Scotland.

    All will be forgotten and forgiven: the rants, the record losses and the negativity.

    “Two World Cup grand finals in a row,” he’ll crow.

    Schmidt, on the other hand, has to decide whether captain Rory Best can make it to the Cup as a starter, try to keep CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony from tripling and doubling their IRFU salaries, respectively, by jumping to France, build caps in the midfield, cotton ball Iain Henderson, his three-star props, Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton, not become too predictable, and oh yes … beat Scotland on September 22, 2019, in Yokohama, or most likely face New Zealand in a quarter-final.

    There is also the tricky little match against Japan. In Japan. As 100 million countrymen watch.

    But even if Ireland beats the irrepressible Scots and tops the pool, they will almost certainly face the Boks.

    OK, the polite little Boklings were bullied in Dublin this year, but South Africa is never an easy out in the World Cup knockout rounds.

    The Boks have plenty of room to grow, with smarter selections and a new coach.

    Ireland may have peaked too early.

    And so one of rugby’s more surprising streaks may continue!

    Unless Ireland can find their luck.