Dublin: 10°C Wednesday 10 August 2022

Fergus McFadden’s World Cup diary: part two

“I’d say it was some weekend – especially in Dublin where fellas probably kicked on and kept going.” The Ireland centre continues his dispatches from inside the camp.

Fergus McFadden and teammates relax after training.
Fergus McFadden and teammates relax after training.
Image: INPHO/Dan Sheridan


We always felt we had that performance in us, even though everyone else seemed to be writing us off. It was just a case of can we do it on the day against Australia.

Thankfully, the lads did.

Personally, I felt there was definitely an edge to training last week in the run-up to the game with the Wallabies. There seemed to be an extra focus in lads and training was pretty sharp.

The night before everyone just got an nearly night and did their own thing, whatever they do to get ready for big matches.

The next morning you just knew it was a big occasion. Driving in on the bus you could sense it and once we got to the ground there was a lot more hype in comparison to the US game. It was a bigger stadium, there was more fans and the atmosphere was pitched this much higher. It felt like the Rugby World Cup.

I wasn’t involved unfortunately and watched the game in the stands just beside the media – and I have to say it was incredible. I’ve never witnessed a buzz quite like it. I thought there was more Irish in the stadium and it was unreal to hear the ‘olé, olés’ ringing out around Eden Park like it was USA ’94 or something.

‘We had them under the pump properly’

I went down into the dressing-room at half time - it was 6-6 at that stage – and the mood then was very good. Lads knew we had a lot more in the tank and basically the message coming from players and management alike was just to keep doing what we were doing.

When we got on top physically, the Aussies didn’t have answers in my opinion. Thankfully we held on at the end but actually I thought we were unfortunate not to get a try at the end, like with Tommy’s interception. We had them under the pump properly.

Myself and the other players who weren’t directly involved went down to the line before the final whistle and it was an amazing thing to hear it.  In the changing-room, Drico said we’re just going to go back out – there’s no laps of honour – but we’ll do a quick clap for the fans who we all believe made a massive difference on the day.

When we came back in after applauding the travelling supporters, the mood was unbelievable. Everyone was just on a buzz but several lads pointed out that this means nothing unless we kick on. We need a few wins in the pool and then we’ll see.

But the bottom line is that this performance has to be our baseline level if we want to achieve anything.

‘I’d say it was some weekend’

After a game it’s compulsory to go to the team room and have a beverage together – be it a beer or a Coke. It’s just designed to make sure we all spend a little time with each other in that hectic period after a match, just ourselves.

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We were probably there for half an hour which was really nice, just chatting amongst ourselves and then the majority of us went out to a bar for a couple of drinks where there was a fair few Irish fans so we mingled with them.

I’ve written this already but we’re kind of in a fishbowl here and it’s hard to know what’s going on at home but some of the lads were getting video messages of the reaction in the O2 in Dublin and pubs around the country back home.

I’d say it was some weekend – especially in Dublin where fellas probably kicked on and kept going for the All-Ireland. We didn’t get to see the Dublin-Kerry game unfortunately, it was on just that little bit too late for us. But we heard all about it.

We had a travel day Monday as we headed for Lake Taupo so guys just got chilled and settled. Some lads went and did bungees, others a bit of golf, and there was some doing white-water rafting again.

I just went for a couple of coffees with Drico and Rob Kearney and just wanted to chill out for the day. The extent of our exertions was taking on a hole-in-one competition at a little par-three set-up here. If you get the ace, you win $10,000. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage it.

So the focus turns to Russia now on Sunday.

When my name wasn’t announced last week I was disappointed obviously but I’m sure Deccie is going to mix it up and hopefully I’ll be one of those getting a look in.

These group games are going to be down to a squad and I know I’ve got a part to play.

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About the author:

Fergus McFadden

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