Ireland has a very competitive national rugby team and is considered a genuine contender for the title a the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. The island nation has not featured outside of the Top 10 in the World Rugby rankings in the last 10 years. They currently lie third behind New Zealand and Australia. The Shamorkcs have however never managed to progress past the quarter-finals of an World Cup tournament.
Ireland has been to the quarter-final five times over the years while suffering a group stage exit in 1999 and 2007. They have a better record in the 6 Nations Championship where they are the current holders of the northern hemisphere competition and have also completed a Grand Slam, ie winning all their matches in the tournament, twice – in 1948 and again in 2009. Joe Schmidt coaches the men in green and has opted to keep Paul O’Connell as the captain.
Brian O’Driscoll holds the record as the most capped player with 133 Tests. He also holds the record for the most number of tries with 43 while Ronan O’Gara amassed 1 083 points making him their top points scorer. None of those players will be available this time around but in Jonathan Sexton the Irish have another points machine and the flyhalf will be hoping to help his side to glory in England.
The Irish will face Canada in their opening fixture of the World Cup on the 19th of September. Romania, Italy and France are the other teams in Pool D. Ireland are fancied to win the group and if they do that, are likely to avoid New Zealand’s All Blacks in the quarter-finals. A first semi-final is a real possibility but Schmidt and his team will not be looking that far ahead just yet.
Ireland’s Rugby World Cup squad:
Forwards: Rory Best, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Sean O’Brien. Paul O’Connell (c), Peter O’Mahony, Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, Nathan White
Backs: Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Robbie Henshaw, Paddy Jackson, David Kearney, Rob Kearney, Ian Madigan, Conor Murray, Jared Payne, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton, Simon Zebo
Photo credit: Villarpress