"They're losers" - Fla on the Irish rugby begrudgers
"That's just life isn't it? There's always going to be begrudgers in anything"
It's Quarter Final weekend in the Rugby World Cup, and Ireland have pulled the toughest draw imaginable.
Failure to beat Japan and fulfil their seeding in the Pool Stages has seen them land on the less favourable side of the knockout draw. Joe Schmidt's men face New Zealand in Tokyo on Saturday morning before a possible meeting with England or Australia the following weekend.
But how many Irish people actually want them to succeed?
It can't be ignored that there's a sizeable contingent of the population that revel in the failure of the Irish rugby team. They point to the supposed hyperbole around the side after the win over the All Blacks in Dublin last year, or the apparently hysterical reaction to their first ever win over Steve Hansen's side in Soldier Field in 2016 or the inevitable cycle of genuine contenders to perennial also-rans that has occurred every four years at the World Cup since the tournament's inception.
Social media was awash with Irish people gleefully rubbing other Irish people's noses in it after big losses this year; when England dismantled Ireland in Dublin on the opening weekend of the Six Nations, when Wales tossed them aside in their quest for Grand Slam glory in Cardiff or after Japan's shock (but completely deserved) win in the Pool stages of the tournament.
Ireland were poor in each of those victories. They did not live up to their own, high standards of performance or the expectation that has been bestowed on them by their fans or the media. But did they deserve the level of vitriol levelled at them in the aftermath?
Speaking on The JOEpan Rugby Show this week, former Munster and Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery said it's something he's only become aware of in recent years;
"I never really... I didn't feel an awful lot of it when I played, probably because I spent most of my career, I was living in Limerick, and there's no real class system around rugby in Limerick. I can understand that, you know, people seeing... there's a bit of a class divide as you probably move towards Leinster, Dublin and maybe in Belfast people see it as more of an upper class game and they might, you know, take umbridge with that. But that's just life isn't it? There's always going to be begrudgers in anything."
That being said, Fla wasn't holding back in his praise for the Irish side or for the people who are only too quick to tear them down;
"I think the Irish team have been an incredible... They've been incredible ambassadors for the country in how they've gotten to world number one in their sport, how they've delivered championships, Grand Slams, how the provincial teams have been dominant. Leinster have been dominating, winning doubles and winning leagues and European Cups. There's always going to be begrudgers there, and they'll just be delighted to see the team stumble and fail. But that's life, like anything. They're just losers those people, generally."
At least part of the country will be happy on Saturday afternoon, whatever way the result lands.
On Episode 7 of the JOEpan Rugby Show this week, Rob and Jerry take a look ahead to Ireland v New Zealand and England v Australia. The full episode is available in the link below ?