Ireland’s pool stage victory over Australia has been voted the best game of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. In a tournament that has to be seen as an overall disappointment for the Irish team the victory over eventual Bronze medal winners Australia provided the tournaments best match, according to the official World Cup Facebook fan site.
The draw was thrown wide open by the Irish victory, effectively setting up the prospect of a Northern Hemisphere half of the draw and a Southern Hemisphere side. The result would be a North versus South Final and a real chance for the Irish to make it to their first World Cup Final. It soon proved this was not to be, with the Welsh seeing off the Irish team in the quarters before being dispatched of themselves by France to set up a repeat of the 1987 final against New Zealand.
Whilst the tournament itself was largely forgettable in the eyes of many outside of New Zealand one of the highlights was undoubtedly the 15-6 victory for Ireland. In a match they were expected to at best give a good account of themselves before going down as valiant losers, they dominated the Australians, not allowing them into the game at all and not only won the game, but denied Australia a losing bonus point, effectively sealing top spot for themselves and setting up a supposedly easier root to the final.
The Irish win saw off competition from Argentina’s victory of Scotland, also in the pool stages and New Zealand’s wins over Australia and France in the semis and final respectively. The fact that between them these four games managed just three tries between them shows that this year’s World Cup will not be remembered for expansive, free scoring Rugby, but instead for hard fought, ever competitive contests. On that regard the Ireland v Australia game sums up everything that was fascinating and enjoyable about the tournament and that is probably a fair reason for it to be described as the best game of the tournament.