Ireland report clean bill of health after bruising South Africa showdown

By Ed Elliot, PA, Paris

Ireland emerged from a blockbuster win over South Africa with a clean bill of health but wary there are “big tests on the horizon” at the Rugby World Cup.

Andy Farrell’s men took control of Pool B with a stirring 13-8 defeat of the Springboks in Paris to put themselves on the brink of the quarter-finals.

Players will go their separate ways to enjoy a few days off following an unforgettable evening at a raucous Stade de France before reconvening to prepare to finish the job against Scotland on October 7th.

Aside from some bruised bodies – and possibly a few sore heads – scrum coach John Fogarty confirmed the squad came through an intense contest relatively unscathed.

“We managed to come out of what was a really physical game with a full bill of health,” he said on Sunday.

“There’s medicals on now, but at this moment in time there’s no obvious injuries.”

Ireland saluted a phenomenal defensive effort with a lap of honour in front of tens of thousands of Irish fans in the French capital.

Asked about the subsequent celebrations, Fogarty said: “It is important to make sure we’re aware that that was a big win and we’re obviously delighted with it.

“We took time with each other, enjoyed company. Nothing too mad at all.

“The dressing room is generally the best craic, you’re there all together, there’s no outside distractions. We enjoyed that time together.

“It’s a late kick-off, we got back to the hotel around 1am so we didn’t do the dog on it, but we enjoyed each other’s company.”

Ireland backed up thumping bonus-point victories over Romania and Tonga by downing the defending champions to retain top spot in the world rankings.

But reaching the knockout stages and a probable showdown with either hosts France or three-time winners New Zealand is not yet guaranteed.

“We’re very proud of the result, we’re very proud of the performance,” continued Fogarty.

“But we’re very, very aware that that’s a pool game, we’ve got Scotland next and we’ve got big tests on the horizon.

“We’ve got a few days with family which is so important. I can’t wait to see my wife and kids. I’m sick of looking at the boys at this stage!

“We’ll certainly look at things we need to improve on but we need to get the recovery in now because Scotland are going to be coming.”

Back-rower Jack Conan, who suffered a foot injury in the warm-up win over Italy on August 5th, versatile back Jimmy O’Brien and centre Stuart McCloskey are the only members of Farrell’s 33-man squad yet to feature in France.

The trio are in contention to take on Scotland.

“Jack had a brilliant week and took part in training,” said Fogarty.

“We’ve been very, very lucky with the health of the squad.

“Right now we look like we’ll be training with a full deck when we return, which is great.”