Rugby Union

Ian Madigan: Ireland showed that we can compete with the best in the world

The Ireland team celebrate their win. Picture Press Association
Ian Madigan

The performance against South Africa was a brilliant Irish performance.

However, there were some things that we need to improve on if we want to go on and win the competition.

For example, the lineout, especially in the first 20 minutes, was a little rusty and our scrum in the second half was being put under a lot of pressure when Ox Nché came on.

Saying that, there were parts of our game that showed why we are the number one team in the world.

Our breakdown work was sensational and that got us out of some tight spots throughout the game.

When South Africa get within five metres of your try-line, they’re more often than not going to come away with the score, but last night, time and time again we came up with great tackles and we turned the ball over really well.

Turnovers were a big part of our play at the weekend, as well as the usual suspects of Josh Van der Flier and Tadhg Beirne, it was great to see James Lowe and Conor Murray coming up with some key turnovers.

You could tell that it was something that we had worked on in training during the week and it really frustrated the South Africans.

When the top two teams are playing each other, the game will come down to small margins to separate them.

You look at the missed kicks and the points they left on the table (which ended up being 10 plus points).

Had they not gone for the post multiple times in the second half, we may have seen them score another try in the match but they didn't!

I think South Africa will look at their performance and see some easy fixes and I would not be surprised if it was an Ireland-South Africa final.

 

Ireland celebrated a memorable win in Paris (Gareth Fuller/PA)

 

However, I do still think that Ireland were deserved winners on the night in what was one of the most physical games I have ever watched.

We certainly held our own in the forwards, I don’t know how many times Andrew Porter led the kick chase and made impact tackles, with guys like Willemse running at him, who is really agile and strong.

Every guy who took to the pitch last night put their bodies on the line and we got the rewards for the hard work put in.

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Bundee Aki again turned in a man-of-the-match performance on Saturday night and he has really caught form during these first three games.

It was probably his best performance in an Ireland shirt against top opposition and I think, for the Irish team, recognising that and running good support lines off him now is crucial.

Bundee is going to make a couple of line breaks a game and during one that he executed straight down the middle against the Springboks, from 22 to 22, the Irish support could have been closer to him.

Looking ahead, our next opponents Scotland will be another tough game, as they are another side that came into this tournament on good form and arguably just didn’t have the gameplan to beat South Africa.

However, we are unbeaten in the last seven games against Scotland and if we impose our gameplan on them, I’m confident we can come away with a win.

I’ve said this throughout the tournament, what’s impressive about this Ireland side is that we have so many different ways to win and last night we showed that we can win in an arm wrestle.

Dupont

 

Antoine Dupont has undergone surgery after being hurt in World Cup action (Daniel Cole/AP)

 

Moving away from the game for a minute, I wanted to address the injury of France’s Antoine Dupont.

With Dupont’s broken jaw it won’t just be a case of whether he will be able to play through the pain.

A Doctor will have to stand over the decision allowing him to play, the location of the injury could put Dupont at risk of an eye injury.

Dupont has had surgery and an option the French may use is to put him in a Hyperbaric Chamber with the hope that it will stimulate extra bone growth.

Players in the past have used this for 6 hours a day. This may limit how much he will be able to train during this time.

I hope that he makes it back to the competition and be able to play in this tournament again, saying that, I think the earliest we could expect him back is the semi-finals.

He is a huge loss for this France team, aside from being worth at least 10 points a game to France, he is also their leader and he is the player the team looks to when they need a big moment.

Retirement

 

Ireland players (from left) Jamie Heaslip, Tommy Bowe, Ian Madigan, and Peter O'Mahony celebrate in the dying seconds of the match against Australia at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on Saturday November 22 2014. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

 

As some of you may have heard, I announced my retirement from professional rugby last week, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all the supporters throughout my career.

I was very lucky to have as long a career as I did and my fondest memories were definitely in the green of Ireland.

I am a proud supporter now and alongside you I’ll be cheering Ireland on to go all the way in this World Cup.

 

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