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26th Feb 2015

Stuart Barnes can see an Ireland v England World Cup semi showdown

The former English out-half will commentate for TV3 at the tournament

Patrick McCarry

There will be no kayaking but Stuart Barnes is up for the team-building pints.

TV3 announced its punditry line-up for the Rugby World Cup, this morning, and there were more than a few legendary names included.

SportsJOE caught up with former England out-half Stuart Barnes before he swapped his TV3 microphone for that of his regular employers, Sky Sports, and a trip to commentate on a Munster game in Cork.

Looks like you won’t have to shell out for a World Cup match ticket

It is pretty exciting to be involved on the commentary team for a country that is a serious World Cup contender. People often say I have the best job in the world but there are times when you will watch 10 matches and nine will be dreadful. Still, moments like today, and getting to work at another World Cup, are special.

What do TV3 have lined up for team bonding?

Announcement of TV3's Rugby World Cup 2015 Coverage 26/2/2015

I’ll skip the kayaking but will make sure I’m free for the pints. It is, pretty much, a new team that they have assembled so I am looking forward to meeting up to plan our coverage.

As one of two Englishmen involved, will you be the voice of reason?

I have been called many things in my career. Never have I been called the voice of reason!

My advantage may be not getting as excitable as my Irish colleagues if they start a winning run. I worked with the host (New Zealand) broadcaster at the last World Cup and was often painted as the panto villain – the European pundit who believed in stodgy, 10-man rugby. That, of course, is not the case.

It would be no surprise, given their current form, if I ended up commentating on Ireland v England in the World Cup semi-final, at Twickenham. If that happens, I will do what I always do by analysing both teams, presenting their cases and hoping the most intelligent, best team wins.

Your take on the current Ireland boss?

Conor Murray, Joe Schmidt and Eoin Reddan 29/10/2013

During his time at the club, Leinster became the best team in the history of the Heineken Cup. They possessed subtlety and skill in midfield and, in Joe Schmidt, had a coach of sheer intelligence and invention.

I said, in 2013, that the Lions should have appointed Schmidt as coach and that England should have broken the bank to get him after Martin Johnson left.

Schmidt’s similarities with England coach Stuart Lancaster

Their attention to detail, which is essential in the modern game, is immense. Rugby has always been about gainline, gaining territory and scoring points. However, in the modern game, the minutiae is vital. Schmidt has such great tactical awareness. Lancaster has instilled that unashamed pride back into England and, with Andy Farrell, installed a big, aggressive defensive unit. He has added to that, in recent months, by bringing George Ford and Anthony Watson into the backs.

Lancaster is right up there but Schmidt is the best in the business.

What is your bombastic Ireland v England prediction?

Conor McNamara and Stuart Barnes 26/2/2015

I was introduced, by Conor McNamara, today as ‘the man that never sits on the fence’ but I fear I may have to on this game. It will be tight and it could end up as 15-9 either way. Ireland are making fewer mistakes and are at Lansdowne Road yet England have the greater potential. If you were forcing me to bet, I would go with Ireland.

Ireland 2, Stuart Barnes 0

Yes. I came off the bench, in 1987, and was terrible as we lost [17-0]. I started as out-half in 1993, at Lansdowne Road, and think the locals voted me man of the match. That’s how bad I was, and how much I helped Ireland win.

I was worried, that night, as I feared I would miss out on the Lions tour. However, those worries soon faded thanks to the kind hospitality of the Irish hosts. I have damned good memories of Dublin. I just wish we had won.

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