The Ireland rugby team put in a great effort on Sunday to beat England in their third match of this year’s 6 Nations tournament – making it three wins out of three.
Ireland’s performance has earned them plenty of praise across the Irish Sea, with some sections of the English media suggesting that the Irish could be in with a good chance of lifting the World Cup later this year.
Sunday’s win keeps Ireland’s hopes of a 6 Nations Grand Slam alive – and ended English hopes of a Grand Slam for another year. A Grand Slam is when a team not only wins the tournament but beats every team along the way.
Mick Cleary of the English Daily Telegraph said that Ireland can go on to even greater glory as long as they can keep Johnny Sexton fit and in form.
Cleary said: “You do have not to be a great side to lift the Webb Ellis trophy (the name of the Rugby World Cup trophy) but you do have to be highly-efficient: merciless in defence, ruthless in accumulating points, on-song and on-message throughout the tournament.
“Ireland are that all right, a band of brothers in emerald green.”
He suggested that Ireland might not be the most entertaining team to grace the world cup or the 6 Nations, but that won’t have bothered the Irish who celebrated the clinical 19-9 victory over England.
What matters is that the team are capable of being ‘merciless in defence and ruthless in accumulating points’ – which are qualities the Ireland team are showing right now.
He said: “What you must have is a kicker of majestic proportions, from hand and from tee, a player who can tease and torment with the precision of his punts, a man with nerve and aplomb, one who enacts his coach’s wishes to the last letter of the game plan.
“Ireland have Jonathan Sexton. That is both Ireland’s greatest strength and their greatest weakness. In clover, Sexton can deliver that World Cup for Ireland. Without him, their prospects plummet. So much is dependent on his prowess. That much was evident on Sunday.
“Defence is as crucial as kicking. In that regards, too, Sexton scores heavily. He should not be seen as a robotic automaton, a monochrome presence. Quite the opposite. There was passion in everything that he did.”
Cleary concluded by returning to his question ‘Are Ireland good enough to win the World Cup?’
His answer was that they could be but would have to: “fall to their knees and beseech very conceivable deity that Sexton’s hamstring heals.”