Irish Josh van der Flier, this discrete best player in the world

John Hay, Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Rory Best… Over the decades, the stars who have worn the Clover XV jersey are beyond count. But if they managed to add to their country’s European record (23 Six Nations titles), they all experienced the same disappointment at the World Cup. Ireland have never progressed past the quarter-finals in their history, suffering seven defeats at this stage. She’s trying her luck again this year and got off to a good start, unceremoniously dismissing Romania (82-8) on Saturday, September 9. XV du Trèfle will try to confirm the match against Tonga on Saturday 16 September in Nantes (9pm, TF1).

Read also: Rugby World Cup 2023: Ireland’s ‘unofficial’ profile

To try and win the Grail, XV du Trèfle is backing its star Jonathan Sexton, 38, for whom this is his last race before retirement, but perhaps especially Josh van der Flier. At the age of 30, the third-row winger is far from a popular figure in his discipline or even in his team. However, he has a track record in this area. In 2022, he took away the double from Antoine Dupont as he was voted the best player in the world by the international federation World Rugby.

On the collective side, van der Flier was a big part of his team’s Grand Slam at the last Six Nations. He also took part in Ireland’s victory tour of New Zealand in the summer of 2022 thanks to two wins in three matches against the All Blacks. All this without attracting light. “He is quite a reserved person who is not the type to make sensational outings in the media, estimates former Blues third-stringer Serge Betsen (63 caps). He certainly has that reticence that fits the collective image of rugby well. »

Like Thierry Dusautoir, nicknamed the “dark destroyer” for his hard tackles, van der Fleer excels in defense (67 tackles in the last Six Nations, his team’s best tally, same as in 2022). But the man who played scrum-half under the age of 14 is no slouch with the ball in his hands either, as evidenced by his six tries in the last Champions Cup, the ‘big’ European Cup. The Irishman led Leinster to the final before losing to La Rochelle, just like the previous year.

He was on the bench for a long time

Van der Flier is not looking for the limelight when he arrives on the pitch, but to relax. “I’ve found it works well for me. I used to not joke before a match. But now I talk to the substitutes and ask them if they have any jokes to tell me.The thirty-year-old explained to the Irish media Independentin September 2022.

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Georgie Collins

"Falls down a lot. Writer. Passionate alcohol maven. Future teen idol. Hardcore music practitioner. Food fanatic. Devoted travel fan."