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Progression on World stage is important goal.

Byline: MICHAEL SCULLY

AMBITIONS to reach the next two Rugby World Cup semi-finals are the minimum requirements set by the IRFU.

Ireland have never reached the last four of the competition in eight attempts but, having progressed to second only in the world rankings to the All Blacks, expectations have shot up.

"I recall in 2007 we all thought it was going to be our year and it didn't happen for one reason or another," said IRFU CEO Philip Browne (inset).

"Hopefully, over the last 10, 11 years we have managed to address some of the problems that arose during that competition. We're No.2 in the world so we have to have aspirations to get that far.

"We go out to win every match and that's the reality. But there is a base level, benchmark that we want to achieve. The notion that we put it up on a piece of paper and we get to the semi-final and say, "Great, job done, let's go off and have a party', that's kind of naive.

"The reality is our teams have aspirations, they have ambition, they're all professional players, professional coaches - they're not going to be satisfied unless they go out and try to win every fixture and that's what happens.

"There's no question that they go out and say, "Well, our strategic plan says we're going to be in the top three in the world and therefore we have to be satisfied with coming third'.

"The players are not satisfied with losing any match. But it's a game of fine margins.

"The reality is it's up to the team on the day, the result - but where we are at the moment, that's obviously a genuine aspiration, we need to try and move beyond the quarter-finals."

CAPTION(S):

NOT AGAIN Ireland lose at last eight stage in 2015 to Argentina

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 23, 2018
Words:310
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