Ireland look ahead to Rugby World Cup 2023

Ireland have never made it past the quarterfinals stage of World Cups, but they are aiming higher in France next year.


Coach Andy Farrell, who rated the 2-1 Steinlager Series success ahead of anything else he had achieved in an illustrious league-rugby career, marvelled at how his players responded to the touring challenge.


The success was not his but the players.


"Some of the stuff that they've done out there today, we've done it together, so I suppose when you look at it like that I suppose it's the most proud that I've been as part of a group, without a shadow of a doubt."


The team and management group would reflect on the lessons learned, although the results were powerful for Ireland's future.


Farrell said being pleased with the result didn't cover what Ireland had achieved on tour.


"We lost game one, you know? We lost game one, and our backs were against the wall. And, apparently, we was [sic] going to feel the full wrath of the All Blacks today, and we said that was the challenge we wanted.


"Our best 40 minutes of the campaign was in the first half. That says a lot about how they are as a team, where they're going, and the belief they've got.

"This is the hardest thing you can do in rugby by a country mile, especially when you take it down to the last game, and we know from history that the All Blacks are going to come out firing," he said.


Ahead 22-3 at halftime, Farrell was pleased with Ireland's composure under the All Blacks' pressure in the third quarter.


"We never got ahead of ourselves when we was in front, and we never panicked when they started to come back," he said.


"You see the freshness of these lads. Some of these lads haven't played for eight weeks. Some of these lads are coming off the back of a losses in a quarterfinal, semifinal or final.


"We had three days of camp before we left for these shorts and it was back together like that. They're a special group and they deserve everything they get," he said.


Captain Johnny Sexton said having toured with the British & Irish Lions and only managing to draw a series [2017], it made Ireland's achievement all the more special.


At the same time, Sexton hoped the interchanges of tours in July and November could be continued.


"Every time you play for Ireland is incredibly special, and to do something that no team has ever down before, will we ever get a chance to play three Tests in New Zealand again, I'm not sure.


"I think the three-Test series is special and that's proven by today's game. It would be a shame to get rid of them," he said.


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