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Pulsating Irish win over Australia in Rugby World Cup

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Ireland's Jonathan Sexton tackling Australia's Kurtley Beale(Photo – Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
Ireland's win over Australia in the Rugby World Cup today was incredible. Fantastic. Tremendous. I'd have to consult my thesaurus if I want to do justice to what the whole country watched this morning.

It's not a massive upset on the scale of say, the "USA!" win over the USSR in the 1980 Olympics, but it's a stunner nonetheless. What made it great, what made it so much fun to watch is that it was one of those sporting events that anyone can enjoy without necessarily understanding the sport.

The noise in the crowd - most of the fans in the New Zealand arena were rooting for Ireland - made for an electric atmosphere. The dedication, desire and drive of the Irish team were awesome to watch.

It was gritty stuff. Fans of old time football (gridiron variety) would have appreciated it. Woody "Three yards and a cloud of dust" Hayes would have loved it. For long stretches of the game a three yard burst would have seemed a long run.
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Rugby can be that sort of game. Sometimes there are great moves with lots of passing leading to tries. Other games both teams push and shove with equal intensity and it's only a little break here or there that makes the difference. Ireland won such a game this morning. Every man defended with all his body and spirit could give.

Unlike in football there are no timeouts and players play both offense and defense. Other than a few players who are substituted, most players play the full 80 minutes. Their only break is the 15 minutes at half-time. It can be a grueling affair and today was about as grueling as you could hope to see.

Yet it wasn't dull. The game was fraught with tension from the start and it only grew as the contest played out. With the clock winding down the Irish players, who had kept pace with and actually outplayed a team that was - on paper - superior, made a determined stand on their line to deny Australia a try in the closing minutes.

When the final whistle sounded Ireland had won 15-6. It was a fantastic spectacle and, thanks to the 9am start, the party in Ireland will be a long one.

{I only learned the other day that American Scott LaValla was a student and rugby stand-out at Trinity College in Dublin before playing professionally for Ulster.}

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