There is a lot of talk of a potential “miracle match” tomorrow, where Ireland emulate the heroic achievement of Munster in January 2003, and win against seemingly insuperable odds.
In that game, Munster welcomed Gloucester, the form team of the English Premier League, to Thomond Park for the deciding pool game in the Heineken Cup. A straight win for Munster wouldn’t have been enough – they had to score at least four tries and win by 27 points. And that is precisely what they did. They scored four tries on the way to a 33-6 win.
But I’m afraid that there will be no re-enactment of those jubilant scenes at Parc des Princes tomorrow. Argentina have danced their way through the pool stage, while Ireland have plodded through with feet of lead. Argentina’s statement of intent was made on the opening night of the tournament with a stunning win over the host nation, followed by solid wins against Georgia and Namibia, conceding not a single try in any of their three opening matches. Ireland struggled against the minnows of the group and lost tamely to France.
To have any hope of qualifying, Ireland have to record a bonus point win and prevent Argentina from getting a loser’s bonus point. Given that (a) Argentina have yet to concede a try, (b) Ireland are struggling to score tries, (c) the fact that Ireland have never put four tries on Argentina in a Test and (d) that few teams ever have put four tries on the Pumas, then the task ahead seems difficult, to say the least.
If Ireland somehow manage to find their Six Nations form, then the best we can hope for is a narrow win. And even if we did manage to pull off the seemingly impossible, the reward would be a trip to Cardiff to be obliterated by the All Blacks. Somehow or other, I would prefer if France got that gig.
Ireland’s World Cup ends tomorrow, sadly. Our friends over at Mundo Albiceleste will be the ones celebrating tomorrow evening.