The Ireland national rugby union team are a successful rugby nation, and uniquely, the team represents both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Ireland’s history in the game reaches back to 1875, making them one of the oldest rugby nations in the world. They will be one of the front-runners for the 2023 World Cup, and they were ranked the number 1 team for the first time in their history in 2019.
The Ireland national rugby union team have never enjoyed World Cup success before, tending to peak between tournaments, but they will arrive in France as one of the teams to beat.
We look through the history of the Ireland national rugby union team, list their current squad and look ahead to their upcoming matches.
World Cup Fixtures
For the 2023 Rugby World Cup, Ireland have been drawn in the competitive Pool B, where they will be up against reigning champions South Africa and familiar Six Nations opponents Scotland, with Tonga and Romania completing the Pool.
The winner of Pool B will face the runner-up of Pool A, which could mean a tough match against either the host nation, France, or the All Blacks.
- September 9 – Ireland v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
- September 16 – Ireland v Tonga (Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes)
- September 23 – South Africa v Ireland (Stade de France, Saint-Denis)
- October 7 – Ireland v Scotland (Stade de France, Saint-Denis)
World Cup Performance
Ireland National Rugby Union Team History
Ireland’s first international match was in 1875 when they faced England in Dublin. It was a match that finished 0-0, an unthinkable scoreline in the modern game but played under a very different points system.
Almost two decades later, Ireland then claimed their first Home Nations Championship title, a previous incarnation of today’s Six Nations. The Ireland national rugby union team has a fantastic heritage, and they have enjoyed much success in the Six Nations Championship, where they enjoy big rivalries against England, Scotland and Wales.
Ireland participated in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, where they failed to make it past the quarter-final stage, bowing out to Australia 33-15.
The Irish then jointly hosted the 1991 Rugby World Cup alongside England, France, Scotland and Wales. But their campaign that year ended at the quarter-finals and again against Australia, in a thrilling clash in Dublin at Lansdowne Road. Ireland missed out by a single point in a heartbreaking 18-19 loss to the Wallabies, who went on to win the tournament.
Ireland have appeared in every edition of the Rugby World Cup. However, they have never been beyond the quarter-final stage, losing at that stage in seven of their nine Rugby World Cup appearances.
As one of the leading contenders for RWC 2023, will this year finally be their year? After landing the Six Nations, the Ireland national rugby union team are number one in the World Rugby rankings, ahead of France and New Zealand.
After opening their 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign against Romania, Ireland’s first big test will come when they meet South Africa on September 23. There should also be a thrilling climax to the Pool stage, as Ireland’s final game is against Scotland on October 7.
Ireland Rugby Players
Ireland will have two pre-tournament warm-up matches ahead of the World Cup – meeting Italy and England in August.
After securing their 15th Six Nations title this year, including landing the Triple Crown and Grand Slam, head coach Andy Farrell probably already has a firm idea of his World Cup squad.
Selection for the Ireland squad doesn’t include players who play abroad, and they come from the four provincial rugby teams in Ireland – Connacht, Leinster, Munster, and Ulster.
Below is the Ireland squad that’s likely to be seen facing Italy and England, which will be the backbone of their 2023 World Cup squad.
Hooker – Ronan Kelleher
Hooker – Dan Sheehan
Hooker – Niall Scannell
Tighthead prop – Tadhg Furlong
Tighthead prop – Andrew Porter
Tighthead prop – Tom O’Toole
Loosehead prop – Cian Healy
Loosehead prop – Finlay Bealham
Lock – James Ryan
Lock – Iain Henderson
Lock – Ryan Baird
Lock – Tadhg Beirne
Lock – Joe McCarthy
Flanker – Peter O’Mahony
Flanker – Josh van der Flier
Flanker – Jack Conan
Flanker – Gavin Coombes
Number 8 – Caelan Doris, Nick Timoney
Scrum half – Jamison Gibson-Park
Scrum half – Conor Murray
Fly half – Johnny Sexton
Fly half – Joey Carbery
Centre – Garry Ringrose
Centre – Robbie Henshaw
Centre – Bundee Aki,
Wing – Hugo Keenan
Wing – Andrew Conway
Wing – James Lowe
Wing – Keith Earls
Fullback – Jordan Larmour
Fullback – Michael Lowry