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Springbok World Cup winner questions Ireland due to quality of the Six Nations

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Wednesday Mar 6, 2024

Rugby World Cup winner Joel Stransky has weighed in on the quality of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations following a claim by former Wales captain Sam Warburton that Ireland are the best team in the world.

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Of course, the Springboks claimed a fourth Rugby World Cup title in October as they edged out old rivals New Zealand in the final.

Speaking to Planet Rugby, Stransky said of Ireland,“There’s no doubt they’re a great side and are still growing.

“They are the real deal, I love watching them.

“Their line-up is formidable, they play fast, they use the width of the field and every player is a skilful ball handler, each capable of cleaning out and rucking, carrying and running into space, offloading out the tackle and making great decisions.

“It’s quite unique. I don’t think any other team in the world plays quite like it, and, rightly, they’re one of the top two teams in the game.

“But I think we will judge them when they come to South Africa.”

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Switching his focus to the Six Nations as a whole, Stransky said that he felt it was tough to truly judge Ireland given where the Championship is as a whole.

“Down here, we look at it at the moment and see England evolving, still trying to work out where they are going.

“Scotland are playing above their weight in many ways, but France without Dupont are not the French team they were in the build-up to the World Cup.

“So we see Ireland, and we’re not sure whether they’ve stepped up or everyone else has just come back a yard.”

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Paying Ireland their dues, Stransky did point out that picking who the best side in the world is a challenge.

“There’s definitely some ambiguity around who the best team in the world is.

“To be the best you’ve got to be the best consistently – and Ireland have probably been that.

“But to win the World Cup you have to be great in the great moments, when it really counts, and that’s what we did.”

Ireland will travel to South Africa in June for a two test series which will put to rest this debate for the time being.

Speaking about the tour, Stransky said it would be a key marker for the Springboks, who lost to Ireland in the pool stages but won their final three Rugby World Cup knockout fixtures by a single point each time.

“That Ireland tour is a massive milestone for Rassie Erasmus, for Siya Kolisi, for this Springbok team.

“It is a chance to really say, you know, we won the Rugby World Cup. Yes we won the last few games by one point, yes, we were a little fortunate, but we are a great side and we are going to prove it.

“The series will maybe not quite carry the prestige of a World Cup but it will be as important to both teams in terms of their reputation and their goals.

“Both will be out to absolutely prove they are number one in the world.”

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