Rugby World Cup: Ireland's World Cup curse continues: No happy ending for legend Sexton

The great Johnny Sexton stood at the Stade de France with tears in his eyes and could not believe Ireland's World Cup curse.

Rugby World Cup: Ireland's World Cup curse continues: No happy ending for legend Sexton

The great Johnny Sexton stood at the Stade de France with tears in his eyes and could not believe Ireland's World Cup curse.

The veteran had led probably the best Irish rugby team in World Cup history into the tournament in France and had an entire island dreaming of gold - tens of thousands of joy-drunk fans had come across the Channel and had colored France's cities green in the past few weeks. In the end, after a 24:28 against New Zealand, Ireland was back in the quarter-finals.

With the 90s global hit "Zombie" by the rock band Cranberries, the Irish cheering song for this tournament, the fans actually wanted to sing their team into the semi-finals. But the 38-year-old Sexton looked like a zombie after his last international match when the game was over and the New Zealanders celebrated. Irish rugby's top points scorer and 2018 World Rugby player is ending his career unfinished.

Comfort from son

While still on the lawn, Sexton brought his son Luca to him, and the little boy also wiped tears from his face with the sleeve of his sweater. TV pictures then showed the little boy looking up at his disappointed dad - you could read from his lips: "You're still the best, Dad." It was at least a small consolation.

Otherwise, the sporting pain was enormous for the Irish, who had never made it to a World Cup semi-final in ten World Cups and were now eliminated in the round of the last eight for the fourth time in a row. “The dream has shattered again,” wrote the “Irish Times” and added: “Because we dared to dream more because of this Irish team than in any of the nine previous World Cups, this new quarter-final defeat feels worse than ever ."

The Irish world number one botched the start and were 0:13 behind after a good 20 minutes. After that, they fought their way back again and again, but in the breathtaking final phase the final comeback was no longer successful. "That's sport, that's life," Sexton said on Irish television, "you don't always get what you deserve. We've come back so many times after being punched in the face. I'm very proud of this team. "

Winning streak broken

The selection with the cloverleaf on their chest was unbeaten for 17 games. Many pundits saw the team - representing both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland - poised for the greatest success in their history. But it wasn't to be again. "It was a pleasure to work with the players," said head coach Andy Farrell, looking back on the past few years and also mentioning the team's connection to the fans, "it was like a big family. I'm incredibly proud, on top of all that "It's sad that this group has probably come to an end."

What he meant was above all the end of the careers of Captain Sexton and other players. The coach urged his troops and fans to "smile again as quickly as possible" after an initial moment of sadness and to celebrate people like Sexton for what they have done for Irish rugby. "I had the best time of my career," said the captain.

New Zealand is once again in the fight for the medals, the three-time champion from the other side of the world will face Argentina in the semi-finals. The outsider from South America surprisingly beat Wales 29:17 (6:10) in Marseille.

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