Ireland rugby fans in Paris: ‘This Irish team is like no team we’ve had before’

Irish supporters appear confident their team can clear the quarter-final hurdle at a World Cup for the first time

An unfamiliar sense of expectation lingers in the Parisian air. Ireland’s fans, with the tune of their “Zombie” anthem never far away, have descended upon the French capital for the third match weekend in a row.

Most appear confident that they will witness their side make rugby history at the Stade de France on Saturday night and clear the quarter-final hurdle at a Rugby World Cup for the first time.

“I know people will say I’m jinxing it but I really believe that Ireland are going to get the job done,” said Tipperary native and Munster fan Dave McIntyre, who has already booked a hotel room that will have him in situ for next weekend’s semi-final.

“Previous Ireland sides have had this complex when it comes to playing the All Blacks, but ever since Soldier Field in Chicago, that’s gone completely. We even went over there last summer and won a series, so if that doesn’t prove that we have the beating of them then I don’t know what does. It will be another week with the bedbugs for me, because this Irish side won’t let us down.”


Ireland, ranked first in the world, have never entered the knockout stages with such momentum. Painful memories remain of an Argentinian mauling in 2015, and a similarly humbling defeat at the hands of the All Blacks four years ago, but supporters in Paris appear to have embraced Ireland’s newfound favourites tag.

Cormac Ryan, from Drimnagh, Dublin, was in attendance as Ireland blew past the challenge of Scotland last weekend. He believes this Irish side will have too much for the three-time world champions this time.

“It’s not the New Zealand of years gone by, it’s a new-look side and I don’t think they’ll be able to match Ireland’s physicality,” he said. “We’ll be too good on the day, and all the momentum is behind us. It might just be my Irish optimism, and possibly bias, but I just think the stars have aligned this year for Ireland, and I think New Zealand won’t have what it takes to overcome us. This Irish team is like no team we’ve had before.”

Ryan, a Leinster season ticket holder, said the atmosphere in and around Paris during the build-up “has been absolutely incredible” and he “can’t wait to get into the stadium for the game”.

“That walk from the metro down to the Stade de France especially, it will be a sea of green and we’ll be belting out the Fields of Athenry and Zombie,” he added. “It’s just spine-tingling stuff. I have hairs standing up on the back of my neck just thinking about it. The Irish have well and truly invaded Paris and hopefully the invasion lasts now for another week longer.”

Gurj Sandhu, an Irish rugby fan from Lucan in Dublin, said the nerves are “definitely building” as the game draws closer.

“It also seems like [New Zealand] are gunning for us especially after the results of the last couple of years,” he said. “For some reason a lot of Irish people seem to have been writing the All Blacks off, which is a bit foolish if you ask me. But having said that, I definitely think we are the better team and that we’re going to win and, to be honest, I think Ireland can go all the way this year.”

Having travelled to all four of Ireland’s pool stage games, the Railway Union RFC man said the atmosphere and craic amongst Irish fans has been “getting better and better” with each passing week.

“I thought we had peaked at the Springbok game but last weekend was just insane,” said Sandhu. “There is green all around Paris and whoever is controlling the music at the Stade de France is playing an absolute blinder to be honest.

“The home games in the Aviva can be pretty dead at times so it’s just great to see people getting out over here and getting behind the team. We seem to love a good away day and the 9pm kick off helps too.”