As the Irish and South African teams prepare for their match tonight, fans gather in Paris ahead of what is expected to be one of Ireland’s biggest tests yet.
While Rugby World Cup match isn’t vital to our continuation in the competition, it will set a precedent for how far the team can go.
Newstalk Reporter Henry McKean told The Anton Savage Show people in Paris can feel the momentum building among fans from both Ireland and South Africa.
“[Irish people] are travelling the country, they’re using this [match] as a holiday,” he said.
“They are loving it – they are packing up the bars, shopping in designer shops.”
Henry spoke to Irish fans about their hopes for the boys in green.
“[How confident am I] on a scale from one to 10?” one man said. “10 out of 10.
He said this match represents Ireland’s first real challenge of the Rugby World Cup.
“There's nothing close to it at this stage – the phony war is over and now we’re into the real deal,” he said.
Several Irish fans said they were confident for Ireland’s team, despite worries presented by South Africa’s ‘Nuke Squad’ of seven forwards and one back.
One Irish man said he travelled from New York to watch Ireland play.
“We're living in New York for the last 27 years, but we wanted to be here,” he said.
“We're over now supporting all the Irish lads, but especially the Munster contingent.”
— Henry McKean (@HenryMcKean) September 23, 2023
Paris is also full of South African fans who took an 11-hour flight to watch their team compete.
Henry said the cost of seeing this match is “hugely expensive” for many South Africans.
“Their country has lots of social problems and financial problems, but some of these fans booked to go two years ago,” he said.
“Rugby in South Africa unites them – it unites Black and white people.”
One South African fan told Henry the country is a “great rugby nation".
“You will see there is a whole lot of nation building exercises that happens within the country at the moment,” he said.
“An integral part of that is rugby - I do believe it definitely brings the people together.”
The fan said South Africa will “definitely” will against Ireland tonight.
“I do believe the Boks are going to edge over Ireland,” he said. “It might be by a small margin, but definitely yes.”
You can listen back here: