But Ireland have a very strong team and under the brilliant coach Joe Schmidt, I am sure that they will bounce back to top form for their opening match against Canada. Schmidt has been unfailing in his hard work with the Irish team since he joined in 2013 and it has shown in their matches over the last couple of years. He has been ably backed up by on the pitch by Paul O’Connell whose leadership as Captain is focused and inspirational. Ireland have been criticised by some for their selection at some positions coming into this World Cup, with only two scrum halves. It remains to be seen if Ireland were inspired by their pre- tournament pep talk from Usain Bolt – but the men in green for sure will give it their all on the pitch and that final pool match against France should produce some great rugby!
Captain: Paul O’Connell
Player to Watch: Johnny Sexton
Dates of Pool Matches:
Saturday 19th September vs Canada – Kick off 14.30 – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Sunday 27th September vs Romania -Kick off 16.45 – Wembley
Sunday 4th October vs Italy – Kick off 16.45 – Olympic Stadium
Sunday 11th October vs France – Kick off 16.45 – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
For more information on Irish Rugby http://www.irishrugby.ie
For full details follow: http://www.rugbyworldcup.com
What to Eat & Drink whilst watching Ireland
With that “soft” weather that Ireland enjoys, this results in some luscious pasture so great feed for cattle but also wonderful dairy products. Thick Irish cream is a glory to see – and when converted in cheese! Ireland is undergoing a real foodie revolution, perhaps inspired by the success of Ballymalloe cookery school. But throughout the country and especially around Cork and out to the West coast, is a large number of small independent producers of everything from the wonderful people at http://www.gubbeen.com who not only make amazing cheese but also rather moreish chorizo as well. Or take a look at http://www.ummera.com who smoke just about everything from duck to chicken. There is even an Eat Irish Week!
One of the easiest things to make is soda bread – and very quick as well with no kneading– so have a go ( see http://paulhollywood.com ) ready to enjoy with an Irish Cheese platter. As well as the delicious Gubbeen above -, look out for goats cheese from http://www.st-tola.ie, add some sweet Cashel Blue (heavenly with a slice of pear) and why not add in some cheese made from coastal grazing cows – http://www.durruscheese.com There is a lovely Irish cheese selection pack available to order on https://www.pongcheese.co.uk
A great one for finger food during the match is the delicious Clonakility Black Pudding – simply heat through and chop into small rings. http://www.clonakiltyblackpudding.ie
Colcannon is a main stay of Irish pub food – and is a glorious way to enjoy mashed potato with lightly boiled green cabbage mixed through (needs lots of butter and cream) – and I like spring onions but am sure that’s not traditional. For match days – prepare it in advance, make into small patties and pan fry in advance– warm through for the match!
When talking to an Irish friend (who brilliantly helped design this website) – he was horrified at talking about Irish food without talking about bacon & cabbage. A good solid warming dish – apparently the key is cooking the cabbage in the water the bacon (pork) was cooked in. I did start musing how I could make this more match day friendly to eat – perhaps using the cabbage as leaves to wrap small cigar shapes stuffed with the pork – but the look I got from a usually easy going Irish man convinced me that traditional it is! http://www.donalskehan.com/2010/03/good-auld-bacon-and-cabbage
For snacks of course if you don’t have time for any of the above – well it can only be one thing – Tayto – the Irish Crisp! http://www.tayto.com
And on a last note, whilst I am not sure of the pairing possibilities of a pint of the Black Stuff with Chocolate (though why not…) but Irish team sponsors Cadbury’s Boost have launched a special RWC version!
Beer: Guinness. The Black Stuff. Enough said – well not quite. (Though I’ve yet to meet a rugby supporter who does not say yes to a pint of it whilst watching rugby), there are other Irish beers out there. I don’t just mean Murphys or Beamish – good though they are too. Or maybe Kilkenny red ale. There is a booming Craft Brewing industry in Ireland which has tripled since 2011 and production went up 50% last year again.
Perhaps unsurprising in a land which ranks 6th in its annual beer consumption, but there are a wealth out there to try. Look at the beer stockist page for more information – but some as yet are not in the UK – does anyone else feel an Irish Road trip to load up with these gems and bring them back might be a good idea? Do look out for the following:
Galway Hooker – perennially popular and one of Irelands original craft ale – sold on tap and in bottles. http://www.galwayhooker.ie
Hailing from beautiful Connemara in Galway, a new but award winning company, Independent Brewery. http://independentbrewing.ie
Leann Folliain – looking to topple Guinness in the stout taste stakes – there are coffee & chocolate aromas in this smooth newcomer. http://www.carlowbrewing.com
The Hurler from 4 Provinces inspired by the brewers love of Hurling, this unfiltered copper ale comes from Dublin. https://twitter.com/fourprovinces
Reel Deel from County Mayo feature an Irish Blond http://reeldeelbrewery.ie
For the Oldest independent Brewery in Ireland http://www.hildenbrewery.com
And should you be thinking about a new job – did you know there are Beer Sommeliers?? Only 75 in the world. http://www.beeracademy.co.uk
For more information, check out the Irish equivalent of Camra – http://www.beoir.org
Wine: Now you’d be telling me that there is no wine produced in Ireland – well it is an officially listed wine producing country – but there are only a handful of small estates, some around County Cork and one just outside Dublin whose annual production is just 350 bottles.
However, there is a group of Wine makers scattered around the world referred to as “Wine Geese” (or still Wild Geese by some). Named after the Wild Geese exodus of Irish soldiers to France in 17th Century and today represents Irish families who are involved in wine making around the world. The most known are two families who went to Bordeaux – the Lynchs and the Bartons and went onto to become Leoville-Barton, today owned by the ultra-charming and fascinating Anthony Barton, and Ch. Lynch-Bages on Bordeaux’s Left Bank. There are a host of other Bordeaux Chateaux with Irish ancestry including Chateaux: Kirwan, Phelan-Segur, Margaux, Clark and Dillon.
But other Irish families emigrated even further and Australia, the US, Chile and South Africa also have their fair share of these Wine Geese.
I am not suggesting that you open a bottle of Chateau Margaux (at about £200 a bottle) whilst watching Paul O’Connells men – but do look at the web links to a range of these below – and to find their wines in the UK try www.wine-searcher.com. All of the Bordeaux Chateaux have multiple outlets in the UK so look at a Wine Broker like http://www.farrvintners.com.
Whiskey: And should you need something to ether celebrate or commiserate at the end of the match then look for a small glass of Irish Whiskey (note the ‘e’) such as http://www.bushmills.com or http://www.jamesonwhiskey.com or http://www.tullamoredew.com or for a small distillery from Ireland’s South West Coast – http://www.dingledistillery.ie