Ireland’s Hugo Keenan pleased after avenging Paris pain with Boks win

Keenan played a key role as Ireland secured a momentous win at the Stade de France after losing to France on their last two visits

Hugo Keenan says he hopes Ireland have turned a corner by beating World Cup holders South Africa at the Stade de France, a venue that has caused much pain for the Irish in recent years.

Ireland earned a statement 13-8 win over the Springboks in Paris to boost their hopes of reaching the last eight.

The Irish had lost their last two games at the stadium to France in the 2020 and 2022 Six Nations.

Ireland may need four more Stade de France wins to win the World Cup.

After returning to the Saint-Denis venue to face Scotland in their final Pool B match on 7 October, Ireland’s knockout matches will be staged there if they qualify.

“God, I was nervous, I met my girlfriend briefly (beforehand) and she thought I looked sick,” Keenan said of playing South Africa.

“I felt good once I got out there; it’s a pressure environment. Stade de France hasn’t been kind to us in the past.

“There’s a pressure lurking that we were keen personally and as a team from that loss to France last year to learn from.

“We’re just going to review this game and focus on Scotland; it’s the only thing we can control and we’re definitely not getting ahead of ourselves.”

Keenan played in Ireland’s two most recent defeats by France at the Stade de France, both of which wrecked the team’s chances of winning the Six Nations.

Leinster’s Keenan, who has 34 caps and has been a key cog in the world number one side’s 16-Test winning run, also praised the “incredible” Irish support in Paris after Andy Farrell’s side were roared on to a third successive pool win by tens of thousands of their fans.

“Jeez, that support was incredible,” said Keenan.

“The Irish crowd are amazing: the numbers, the amount of people who made the effort to get over here and support us – it made some difference.

“You need to harness it at the right times and I think the forwards did.

“I’m sure South Africa felt under the cosh at times when the 60-odd-thousand Irish fans are cheering for us, it does make a difference.

“There’s times you have to ignore it during play and just do your job, but you also have to embrace it and make the most of it.

“The walkaround after the game was incredibly special, I saw some familiar faces which makes it extra cool.”


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