Wood: ‘Win the pool and Ireland can go far’

Date published: October 9 2015

Former Ireland international Keith Wood believes Ireland can lift the Webb Ellis trophy should they defeat France on Sunday.

With Ireland winning their second Six Nations title in as many years, Irish arrived at the World Cup in high spirits.

A victory over the French will secure Ireland top spot in Pool D and a quarter-final against Argentina. However, should their cross-Channel rivals win, they face defending champions New Zealand in the final eight. 

"Can Ireland win the World Cup? Yes, they can. Is it likely? I don't think so. However, if they beat France then they have a great chance," Wood told the Evening Standard.

"I accept the route to a possible final if they win the pool is not horrendous, but the reason I say it is unlikely is simply because Ireland haven't done it before.

"We have won two Six Nations in row but I felt that last season they were, at times, limited in what they were trying to do. Wales exposed it for 20 minutes and that is all it took and they didn't win the Grand Slam."

Wood heaped praise on the coaching system in Ireland that has placed more emphasis on keeping the top players fresh for battle in crunch games. 

"The Irish team is in a good place because they are well coached and have trained hard for the tournament and the Irish system really looks after the players," added the former Munster hooker.

"This is something that often gets overlooked and you have to remember this is the biggest professional sport in Ireland.

"Of course, being in a good place doesn't guarantee anything and one bad day means you are out of the World Cup. So it is a huge step for Ireland to win the tournament, not having got past the quarters in their previous attempts."

Joe Schmidt's Ireland travel to the Millennium Stadium to play France on Sunday for the final match of the pool stages.