As Ireland faces Argentina in the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup, Argentinian center Juan Martin Hernandez believes that Argentina will defeat Ireland in their latest game. Argentina defeated Ireland in the quarter finals in both 1999 and 2007 in what Hernandez referred to as “El Classico.” Referring to Argentina’s 28-24 win in 1999, he said in the Sydney Morning Herald that the game was more like a derby for the Argentinians.
“I remember in 1999 when we went through to the quarter-finals for the first time. I was not part of the team then, I was very young but I remember watching on TV. These games are like El Clasico, they are derbies. I know Ireland has European teams but for us it has become a nice challenge, a great derby.”
Hernandez went on to state that he believed Jonathan Sexton, who normally plays the fly-half, as well as other positions in the backline, will be crucial to Ireland’s chances of winning the game. Sexton has been battling a groin problem, which may keep him from playing. Ireland may gamble on having him play in order to win the Rugby World Cup.
In addition to Sexton being sidelined, the Irish rugby team faces other obstacles too. Sean O’Brien was suspended for a week for punching Pascal Pape, and although his case is being appealed, chances are O’Brien won’t play in Sunday’s match. Keith Earls also remains doubtful although there is a chance he may play.
As reported in the Irish Times, Earls is on the mend after being battered in midfield collisions where he took a beating. He said it was the most punishing experience of his life.
“The body is good… Didn’t train today. The coaches are just watching my load, my running metres. I’ve started all the games and did every training session so I sat down and watched, took a break to leave the body to recover after the most physical game I played in my life. It’s important now that I do know my body and the coaches do know my body and I get a bit of a rest there. I’m happy at the moment. Hopefully there is more to come. Without any injuries it is great to be able to build on it each week. That’s the plan.”
Of greatest concern in winning the Rugby World Cup, as reported by the Telegraph UK, is Jonathan Sexton. Sexton injured his adductor (groin), and caused a strain. It led to his replacement with Ian Madigan just 25 minutes into last week’s game with France.
Coach Joe Schmidt requires players who are injured to train early in the week if they plan to play on the weekend. Plans changed because of so many injuries and the amount of training necessary to make the final selection needed to be completed by Friday.
Still, Ireland hasn’t given up hope of winning, even though player Paul O’Connell is out with a hamstring injury while Peter O’Mahoney is out with a knee injury. Sexton is being given as much time as possible to prove his fitness in order to help him play in Sunday’s Rugby World Cup game. He ran on Wednesday, and whether or not he plays will be decided on Friday.
Assistant coach Greg Feek said he ran about 3 and a half kilometers. He went on to say that players normally get a week off after two matches, although things change during the Rugby World Cup.
“When you start to accumulate a number of games in a row, in the Six Nations you usually get two matches and then a week off, while in November you get three but you can still mix it around. But here it’s do‑or-die type stuff, so there might be some allowances around a few things, especially with our medical staff and strength and conditioners, they’ve got a good feel on things as well.”
Do you think injuries will be the deciding factor in the match between Ireland and Argentina in the Rugby World Cup?