Like two ships passing in the night, the 2023 Rugby World Cup pool stages have been and gone at a rate of knots.
Across forty action-packed fixtures, the game’s global showpiece went to a level unmatched by any previous tournaments.
Whether it was the so-called tier two nations bringing a vibrant new outlook to the tournament or the traditional powers doing battle, the pool stages had it all.
The Business End
Now down to eight teams, the business end of the tournament will no doubt deliver more exceptional action both on and off the pitch.
As ever, the tournament is built on a foundation that is laid by the thousands who spend their hard-earned money to come and support their team.
It is fair to say that every nation has enjoyed immense support from both their own fans and the French locals who have adopted second teams when their men in blue aren’t playing.
Irish Fans Take Over
Whilst every nation’s fanbase has brought a unique element to the tournament, it is hard to argue with the fact that Ireland’s green army has been the most noticeable.
From singing their iconic songs to simply having the craic, the Irish fans have been truly immense thus far this tournament.
It, of course, helps that their team to date have been producing world-class performances week in and week out.
Yet, as one takes to the Stade de France when there has been an Ireland match on, you could be forgiven for believing the match was, in fact, in Dublin.
Such has been the number of Irish fans who have made the trip to France that the team has acknowledged that they felt like they were playing at the Aviva Stadium.
Thanking the fans profusely, head coach Andy Farrell and captain Johnny Sexton have made a point to pay homage to their supporters both post-match and in interviews.
What It Means
Whilst there is no doubt that the fans have spurred the teams on, it is equally fair to suggest that the fans have got just as much, if not more, from the team over the past five weeks.
One video that has been doing the rounds of an Irish fan overcome with emotions has been doing the rounds and really does show just what the tournament means to the fans.
Click here to watch the video. Credit to Irish Daily Facebook page for this video.