Ireland boss Andy Farrell says ability to ‘roll with punches’ key for World Cup

Andy Farrell believes Ireland must remain calm and “roll with the punches” to realise their potential at the Rugby World Cup.

Former dual code international Farrell is preparing for his first global tournament as head coach having previously been involved as a player and an assistant coach.


Six Nations champions Ireland have topped the world rankings for more than a year and arrived in France on Thursday among the favourites to go all the way.


Englishman Farrell has welcomed setbacks during his tenure to challenge his players and prevent them becoming fazed on the biggest stage.

“The key learnings are the scenarios that we’ve tried to put ourselves through in the last few years,” the 48-year-old said of his previous World Cup experiences in both rugby union and rugby league.


“You hear me say constantly ‘best laid plans and all that’, it’s 100 per cent that at a World Cup.



“The ones that get flustered with all that because they’re not ready for all different types of permutations are the ones that lose the plot.

“The key to progressing in a competition like this is staying calm, keeping your feet under you and making sure that you just roll with the punches and be the best version of yourself no matter what happens and have no-excuse mentality.


“We’ve tried to put ourselves in those type of positions before and we know what’s coming through.”

Ireland have been placed in the tougher half of the draw and begin their campaign next Saturday against Romania in Bordeaux.

Farrell’s men then face Tonga, reigning champions South Africa and Scotland in Pool B, with hosts France or New Zealand likely opponents should they progress to the quarter-finals.

Asked if this is the most competitive and open World Cup, Farrell said: “I think everyone loves to say that anyway.

“Everyone wants it to be like that because there’s so many good teams that can beat each other on any given day.


“The pressures of the competition within itself, the history of all that shows that it is going to be a wide-open competition. So one step at a time. Let’s see if we can build some momentum.”

Farrell assisted Joe Schmidt at the 2019 World Cup before stepping up to become Ireland boss following a quarter-final exit against the All Blacks.

The opening year of his reign, amid the coronavirus pandemic, brought mixed results but his side have won 25 of 27 Tests dating back to round three of the 2021 Six Nations.

“I’m not surprised,” Farrell said of the progress. “If you’re talking four years ago then we probably didn’t know the total plan as in what we’ve been through and what we’re going through.

“The process has always been for the here and now, and the medium term, and the long term.

“A lot tend to go from cycle to cycle and chop a few and carry on.

“I think the right way, for me anyway, is to grow and develop competition as we go and then when we get to something like this (World Cup) watch and learn and let’s pick accordingly on what’s right on the team.”


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