Farrell calls for Irish improvement after epic win

rugby24 September 2023 08:19| © Reuters
Andy Farrell © Getty Images

Ireland may have won the battle but coach Andy Farrell knows the war rages on at the Rugby World Cup and has called for his side to keep improving in the wake of their magnificent 13-8 victory over South Africa in Paris on Saturday.

It was a match that pitted the top two sides in the world against each other in a bone-crunching contest that has underlined Ireland’s status as the team to beat.

But Farrell knows this is not the time to get carried away, with his side yet to have sealed their place in the quarterfinals let alone thinking about lifting the trophy.

"It’s wonderful to win, but there was not much in it between the two sides," he told reporters.

"We will know what that feels like further down the line, to learn those lessons with a win. When you love defending as much as we did in that game, that stands us in good stead.

"We will need to be better as the competition goes on. We’ve got very good at not getting too emotional and staying on task."


What Ireland cannot do is rest on their laurels, and experienced flyhalf Johnny Sexton said they have to step up again when they face Scotland in their final pool B game.

That challenge does not come around until 7 October, by which time Ireland may already have secured a quarterfinal place if other results go their way.

"Now it’s all about Scotland, an excellent team," Sexton said. "They’ll be frustrated with how they played against South Africa (in an 18-3 loss), but we struggled to get our game going against South Africa too."

Sexton agrees with Farrell that Ireland will have to get better if they are to advance beyond the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time.

"It was a very physical game, a lot more collisions than our first two matches," he said. "I’m proud of the lads to front up. There were a lot of mistakes, but we just brushed them off. Plenty to work on, though."