Ireland's Josh van der Flier has claimed that there is nothing he would have done differently when it came to Ireland's preparation at the Rugby World Cup.
Andy Farrell's side entered the tournament as one of the favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy, but again, the team was unable to make it past the quarter-final of the event. This means that Ireland has now failed to get past the first knockout stage since the RWC began in 1987.
Ireland's 24-28 defeat to the All-Blacks was also especially hard because of the manner of expectation, the level of the Ireland team, and everything that happened in the lead-up to the competition.
Defeat in elite-level sport can be hard, but it can hit even harder when the stakes are that high. For many of Ireland's players, there is chatter about what Ireland could have changed before, during, and after the game, but according to Van der Flier, Ireland's preparation was an aspect that didn't need to be altered in France.
"Looking back at the build-up to the game, the few weeks before the World Cup, I honestly remember being in the changing room afterward and thinking, and I still feel the same way, there’s nothing I would have done differently, or I think we could have done differently or better," he said this week.
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) November 14, 2023
"There are things that happen in the game that you say, ‘If we had prepared that better’ or whatever but certainly going into the game I felt really confident, I felt we did everything the right way."
After beating New Zealand in New Zealand for the first time and beating them in the Aviva, the Ireland team would have been confident of beating the All-Blacks once again. However, New Zealand produced their best display of the event against Ireland, and according to Van der Flier, Ireland, France, England, New Zealand, and France could have easily won the tournament because of the small margins needed.
"Anytime they did something well, there’s obviously something to stop that and there’s execution we can do but I think on reflection, it’s probably New Zealand’s best performance for a long, long time," he added.
"Looking across the World Cup, how close so many of the games were, there were probably four, maybe five teams all on the wrong side of a really close game, and any one of them could have ended up winning it."
Leinster welcomes the Welsh side Scarlets to the RDS later this evening. That game starts at 7.35 pm.