The Ireland legend looks ahead to the World Cup and tells us about junior rugby camps in Portugal in an exclusive column. This is an advertising feature.

I’ve never been to Japan before as there were Irish trips there during a few Lions tours, so I missed those. So I’m excited about the Rugby World Cup there. And there’s a bit of the element of the unknown for some sides going.

I know Ireland will be playing some warm-up games in the middle of the afternoon so there is a bit more heat and humidity, to help them acclimatise a bit. It’s those little things that can help.

Also remember, the big teams always raise their game for World Cups. Look at Australia and South Africa, who rarely miss out on the semi-finals. So Ireland will have to raise their game too and it should be the most open World Cup ever.

As a player you want to be playing in the big games and with big atmospheres. There’s no doubt you’ll get that atmosphere with Ireland playing against the hosts in Pool A. That can bring a nervousness – especially after what we saw from Japan against South Africa in 2015 – but the reality is that if you can’t beat Japan in the pool, you won’t win the World Cup.

Ireland will try to top the pool so they play the team who finishes second in New Zealand and South Africa’s pool. If Ireland play New Zealand, the fact we have beaten them a few times recently – which means we are not trying to get that first win in 100 years – helps. But it won’t make it any easier. You feel that this is New Zealand’s to lose, as it has been at every World Cup since 1987.

Brian O'Driscoll

Set to impress: Jordan Larmour could shine for Ireland (pic via Getty Images)

If you were looking for standouts ahead of the World Cup, there are a lot of individuals you could name at the moment. Jack Nowell was great with ball in hand in the Gallagher Premiership final and he showed a lot of power from the back. He caught a lot of players by surprise. Likewise, Jordan Larmour for Ireland can be an interesting coming into a World Cup. Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell of course can be exciting.

It would be terrific if we had a new winner at the World Cup. Argentina have shown through the Jaguares – where most of their players are – that they are playing good rugby and scoring tries. They will be tough to beat while Wales won a Grand Slam and France could be on the road to recovery. This World Cup is maybe a step too far for them, but their U20s winning back-to-back Junior World Cups shows it’s only a matter of time and they will give everything for the 2023 World Cup in France. Ireland are one of the other teams who haven’t won it.

We want to see something new, not just the same old, same old. One of my areas of focus now is with The Campus, Europe’s newest five-star multi-sport and wellness hub at Quinta do Lago in the Algarve in Portugal, where we are hosting junior rugby camps for all abilities and 5-15 years of age from  29th July to 2nd August.

There’s a big Irish contingent down there and I know a couple of guys involved. I had holidayed down there before but had never seen the campus. But when I did and heard about the opportunity, there was a real feeling that rugby camps there could go really well.

The quality of The campus is incredible. It’s been created not just for elite athletes and teams but for families as well. It’s becoming popular with premiership football and rugby teams, Olympic and Para-Olympic squads, athletes and coaches who are taking advantage of the lovely all year round training climate. There’s also tennis, padel, cycling and triathlon, so there’s something for everyone!

Brian O'Driscoll


They have also recently opened a High Performance Campus creating an outstanding facility for holiday makers looking for the ultimate family sporting break. It caters for the whole family, all ages and abilities and includes loads of fun activities such as: dance, yoga and pilates classes, swimming, sauna and steam rooms, sport rehabilitation, fitness, personal training and wellness as well. It’s all state of the art!

We had our first camps in Easter and now we’ll get going again at the end of the month. I used to do kids camps in Dublin and doing this again, it kind of reignites your passion for the game. Kids are like sponges and you get to work with children with a wide variety of skill levels and experience of the game.

When you see kids running hard with the ball – because they aren’t aware yet that the ball moves faster than the person – and then by the end of the week working with them they are looking for the added pass, finding the extra man or putting someone else in space, I get a real kick out of that.


  • 29th July to 2nd August 2019
  • Timings: 30am-11.30am daily
  • 550 € per child
  • Limited space available.
  • 5-15 years of age


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