Rugby World Cup: Tadhg Beirne hoping Ireland can dictate play against powerful Tonga

The lock says there is one area, in particular, where Ireland must improve in their next Pool B match

Any time a player is dressed differently, and particularly wearing a suit, usually means he’s been a miscreant of some kind. So when Tadhg Beirne turned up at his media briefing in the sweat box that is the temporary structure that serves as the team meeting room at their Complexe de la Chambrerie, his misdeeds were an inevitable topic.

It transpires that he was obliged to wear his suit, or so-called “number ones”, to and from training on Wednesday because he arrived late for a team meeting – by “a couple of seconds”, according to himself -, which seems a bit excessive all right.

“There’s a bit of a dictatorship going on in camp at the moment,” he said with a chuckle. “We have three lads that call themselves the sheriffs. They’re in charge of any misdemeanours or any fines that need to be taking place within the camp.

“Unfortunately, I turned up a couple of seconds late for a meeting and they decided to fine me. I had to spin the wheel of fortune and I landed on ‘number ones’ to and from training, hence the suit. But, it fell on media today so everyone gets to see me in a nice suit, so how bad [is that]?”


He wasn’t inclined to reveal the list of punishments on the wheel of fortune, but did reveal: “One of the worst ones is I think there’s a silent one-minute dance which is actually probably punishment for everyone sitting in the room as well as it is for the man who has to do it. There’s a wheel back in the camp they have all different punishments on it. So, it could land on whatever.”

The three sheriffs are James Ryan, Jack Conan and Dave Kilcoyne.

“The reason it’s a dictatorship is because they are claiming they’re above the law. So, there could be a French Revolution yet,” quipped Beirne.

“The power’s definitely going to their heads, particularly Dave Kilcoyne. He’s enjoying it a bit too much for people’s liking I think.”

Beirne’s presence in front of the media a day before the team for Saturday’s Pool B match against Tonga in Nantes is a strong indicator that he will at least be in the matchday 23, the question being of course whether he will be in the secondrow, blindside or on the bench.

He was a replacement in Ireland’s opening warm-up game against Italy, then started in the secondrow against England and Samoa before being moved to blindside in last week’s victory over Romania.

Given he started his support run for his second and Ireland’s 12th try five metres from his own line in the 83rd minute in temperatures that touched 37 degrees, Beirne’s fitness levels are clearly very good.

Besides which, not only do players want to play, Beirne is hardly inclined to be choosy after suffering an ankle injury early in the second-half of the epic win over France and being sidelined for three months, obliging him to the final three legs of the Grand Slam. “It was gutting to miss out on those games but I turned into the lads’ number one fan,” he says

“Every player here wants to play. It comes around once every four years, you never know if you’re going to be fit for one, you never know if you’re going to be selected for one and then if you get here all you want to do is put on the Irish jersey and go out and represent the country.

“So, everyone here wants to play every week and it’s no different from last week. I’m gunning to play again for sure.”

Last Saturday was also his third 80-minute plus shift in a row, although Beirne says he’s not at his best yet.

“Still getting there I think. I’ve been lucky enough, I played all three of the warm-up games and it definitely helped in terms of my game. I probably wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted to be for the first warm-up game and I’ve certainly felt like I’ve been building.

“I still feel like I’ve a way to go to get to my best. I suppose I don’t really know what my best is but I’m certainly trying to improve all the time. So, it’s no different. I want to improve on last week if I do play this week.”

Samoa’s performance against Ireland in Bayonne and Fiji’s displays in beating England at Twickenham are a warning shot to this Irish team, especially as Tonga are primed for their delayed tournament entry.

“I think physicality is going to be top of their agenda. I think they’re going to come and try and have a scalp off us for sure. They’re a serious side when you look at the team on paper. I’ve no doubt that they’re going to have a go at us. They’ll certainly attack us out wide and then they’ll take us on up front as well, and we’ve got to be ready for that.

“Looking at that Samoa game we were quite off it we felt, a lot of mistakes, we were disappointed with how our set-piece went. Tonga are probably going to look at those areas and come after us in those areas, so we’re certainly going to have to improve massively on those.

“Again, on the weekend just gone, we’re probably still not happy with where we were there, and particularly lineout. So, we’re putting pressure on ourselves to improve that area for sure and it’s another massive test for us. We’re just continuing to look to improve and hopefully we’ll be able to do that on Saturday.”