Ireland national rugby league team

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Ireland
Badge of Ireland team
Team information
NicknameWolfhounds
Governing bodyRugby League Ireland
RegionEurope
Head coachStuart Littler
CaptainLiam Finn
Home stadiumCarlisle Grounds, Bray
Morton Stadium, Santry
IRL ranking12th
Uniforms
First colours
Team results
First international
 Ireland 24–22 United States 
(RFK Stadium, Washington DC, 17 March 1995)[1][2]
Biggest win
 Ireland 82–0 Serbia 
(Tullamore, Ireland; 18 October 2009)
Biggest defeat
England England Knights 62–4 Ireland 
(St Helens, England;16 June 2012)
 Russia 64–6 Ireland 
(Moscow, Russia;16 May 2004)
World Cup
Appearances4 (first time in 2000)
Best resultQuarter-finals 2000, 2008

The Ireland men's national rugby league team, known as the Wolfhounds, is organised by Rugby League Ireland and represents Ireland in international rugby league. The representative team is composed largely of players of Irish descent who compete in the Super League as well as the Australasian National Rugby League. Ireland is also represented by an Ireland A side, which is made up of players from the Irish domestic competition.

Since Ireland began competing in international rugby league in 1995, it has participated in the 1995 Rugby League Emerging Nations Tournament, the 1996 Super League World Nines, and four Rugby League World Cups2000, 2008, 2013 and 2017.[3] They have also competed in the Rugby League European Nations Cup.[3]

Although, the island of Ireland is separate from the island of Great Britain, Irish players such as Cork-born Brian Carney have in the past been selected to play for the Great Britain side.[4]

History[edit]

The seeds of modern-day Rugby League in Ireland were sown in 1989 when Brian Corrigan founded the Dublin Blues Rugby League, a club that was primarily used by union players to keep fit during the summer by playing matches against touring British teams.[5][2] In 1995 the British RFL established Ireland's first development officer and later that year Ireland played against the United States in Washington on St Patricks Day with Ireland winning 24–22.[2][6] Wigan Warriors player Joe Lydon came on as a substitute despite also serving as the manager. Huddersfield Giants coach Terry Flanagan and former Great Britain international Niel Wood were the joint coaches. In August 1995 Ireland beat Scotland at the RDS Arena in Dublin as a curtain raiser to the charity shield match between Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors.[7] The matches were played before an attendance of 5,716, a record for an international rugby league match on Irish soil.[7][8] Former Great Britain player Des Foy played for Ireland.[8] Following their appearance at the 1995 Emerging Nations Tournament, they were invited to the Super League World Nines in Fiji where they finished 8th.[9]

Flags and anthems[edit]

The Four Provinces Flag of Ireland

The Irish rugby league team is one of many Irish teams that draws its players from across the island of Ireland. It utilises the Four Provinces Flag of Ireland and the all-island anthem, "Ireland's Call". Unlike the Irish rugby union team, the Irish rugby league team does not play Amhrán na bhFiann, the national anthem of the Irish state, in addition to Ireland's Call when playing at home.

1995 Emerging Nations Tournament[edit]

Ireland were included in the tournament held in England and were placed in Group B alongside Moldova and Morocco. Ireland beat Moldova 48–24 before beating Morocco 42–6 to progress to the final. In the final Ireland lost 6–22 to the Cook Islands at Gigg Lane in Bury.[10] Coached by Terry Flanagan, Ireland's squad included professionals Des Foy and Martin Crompton in an otherwise domestic based squad.

2000 World Cup[edit]

1997 saw more England-based Super League players making themselves available by use of the grandparent rule. The Irish team improved its standards but this development gave less opportunity for Irish-based players to get a chance to play. However, Irish-based players were included in the Irish squad for the triangular tournaments in 1998 against France and Scotland and 1999 against Scotland and Wales. Their success was enough to earn a place in the 2000 World Cup. Finishing top of their group, the Irish eventually lost 26–16 to England in the quarter-finals, but the performance set the scene for future developments in Ireland.[11]

2008 World Cup[edit]

Ireland were drawn against Lebanon and Russia in Europe's 2008 Rugby League World Cup Qualifying Pool Two. Ireland topped the group with a 16–16 draw with Lebanon at Dewsbury on 2 November 2007. The draw meant Ireland qualified for the 2008 World Cup on points difference from Lebanon as both nations gained the same number of group points.

Ireland at the 2008 World Cup.

At the 2008 World Cup in Australia, Ireland were in Group C along with Tonga and Samoa. They lost to Tonga on 27 October in Parramatta, Sydney, but were victorious against Samoa, again in Parramatta, on 5 November and topped the group on points difference.[12][13] As the group winners, they played Fiji, winners of Group B, for a chance to qualify for the semi-final.[14] Fiji won 30–14 eliminating Ireland.[14]

2013 World Cup[edit]

England v Ireland 2013 RLWC

For the 2013 World Cup Ireland were drawn in group A alongside Australia, England and 2008 World Cup rivals Fiji. Ireland was granted automatic entry to the tournament due to their strong showing in the 2008 World Cup. Ireland lost all three group matches including a 0–50 defeat to eventual champions Australia in front of 5,021 fans at Thomond Park.[15]

2017 World Cup[edit]

Ireland kicked off their campaign with a shock 36–12 win over Italy in Cairns. In the next pool match Ireland lost a narrow match to PNG 14–6 with PNG needing a 78th minute try to win the game. Ireland's final pool match was against Wales in Perth where they ran out comfortable winners 34–6. Ireland did not progress to the next round of the tournament despite winning more games than Lebanon or Samoa who qualified for the last 8.[16][17][18]

2021 World Cup[edit]

Ireland started 2021 Rugby League World Cup qualification campaign in the 2018 European Championship, where they finished third with a win against Scotland and two losses against France and Wales. Ireland's third place finish required them to participate in the 2019 European play-off tournament to ensure qualification. Here they managed to achieve two wins against Italy and Spain, leading to their World Cup qualification. Ireland were drawn into Group C, alongside New Zealand, Lebanon and Jamaica.[19]

Current squad[edit]

The 22-man national team squad selected for the first match day of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup European play-off tournament.[20]

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Pts Club
Fullback Gregg McNally (1991-01-02) 2 January 1991 (age 30) 11 34 Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions
Wing Roland Podesta (2000-01-01) 1 January 2000 (age 21) 0 0 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Centre Zack McComb (1995-09-09) 9 September 1995 (age 25) 0 0 Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham
Centre Ethan Ryan (1996-05-12) 12 May 1996 (age 25) 3 4 HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers
Stand-off Matthew Coade 1 22 Newcastle colours.svg Longhorns RL
Scrum-half Joe Keyes (1995-09-17) 17 September 1995 (age 25) 6 0 HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers
Prop Liam Byrne (1999-08-18) 18 August 1999 (age 21) 3 0 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
Prop Frankie Halton (1996-06-18) 18 June 1996 (age 25) 0 0 Swintoncolours.svg Swinton Lions
Prop Ronan Michael (2000-07-03) 3 July 2000 (age 21) 3 0 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
Prop Pat Moran (1998-04-02) 2 April 1998 (age 23) 0 0 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
Prop Michael Ward (1991-02-10) 10 February 1991 (age 30) 3 0 Batley colours.svg Batley Bulldogs
Hooker Bob Beswick (1984-12-08) 8 December 1984 (age 36) 25 12 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Thunder
Hooker Sam Cullen (2000-08-27) 27 August 2000 (age 20) 0 0 Cronulla colours.svg Barrowcudas, Carlow
Hooker Declan O'Donnell (1998-09-07) 7 September 1998 (age 22) 3 4 Workingtoncolours.svg Workington Town
Second-row Danny Bridge (1993-01-04) 4 January 1993 (age 28) 5 0 Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham
Second-row Tyrone McCarthy (1988-04-21) 21 April 1988 (age 33) 17 8 Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils
Second-row James Mulvaney (2000-06-23) 23 June 2000 (age 21) 0 0 Newcastle colours.svg Longhorns RL
Second-row Martyn Reilly 0 0 Ramscolours.svg Dewsbury Rams
Second-row Oliver Roberts (1994-12-24) 24 December 1994 (age 26) 8 20 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
Loose forward James Bentley (1996-10-19) 19 October 1996 (age 24) 3 4 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
Loose forward George King (1995-02-24) 24 February 1995 (age 26) 8 16 Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield Trinity
Loose forward Matthew Towey (1992-01-01) 1 January 1992 (age 29) 0 0 Mackay Cutters colours.svg Galway Tribesmen

Competitive records and ranking[edit]

IRL World Rankings
Official Men's Rankings as of July 2021
Rank Change* Team Pts%
1 Increase 2  New Zealand
2 Decrease 1  Australia
3 Decrease 1  England
4 Steady  Tonga
5 Steady  Fiji
6 Increase 4  Papua New Guinea
7 Steady  Samoa
8 Decrease 2  France
9 Decrease 1  Scotland
10 Decrease 1  Lebanon
11 Increase 5  Greece
12 Steady  Ireland
13 Increase 1  Italy
14 Decrease 3  Wales
15 Increase 4  Serbia
16 Increase 1  Malta
17 Increase 1  Norway
18 Decrease 3  United States
19 Increase 4  Poland
20 Decrease 7  Jamaica
21 Decrease 1  Hungary
22 Increase 3  Czech Republic
23 Increase 5  Cook Islands
24 Increase 7  Turkey
25 Decrease 1  Netherlands
26 Increase 4  Spain
27 Decrease 6  Canada
28 New entry  Nigeria
29 Decrease 2  Solomon Islands
30 Increase 10  Sweden
31 Increase 4  Germany
32 Increase 1  Chile
33 New entry  Ghana
34 Increase 16  Morocco
35 Decrease 3  Vanuatu
36 Steady  South Africa
37 Decrease 8  Russia
38 New entry  Cameroon
39 Decrease 2  Ukraine
40 Increase 1  Colombia
41 Increase 4  Brazil
42 Steady  Belgium
43 Increase 4  Denmark
44 Increase 4  Bulgaria
45 Increase 4  Latvia
*Change from July 2019

Ireland compete in the Rugby League European Nations Cup and have participated in the Rugby League World Cup.

Overall record[edit]

Ireland's competitive record as of 10 November 2019 [21]

Against Played Won Drawn Lost Win % For Aga Diff
 Australia 1 0 0 1 0% 0 50 –50
 Belgium 1 1 0 0 100% 34 0 +34
 Cook Islands 1 0 0 1 0% 6 22 –16
 England 3 0 0 3 0% 28 104 –76
England England Knights 2 0 0 2 0% 8 118 –110
 Fiji 2 0 0 2 0% 28 62 –34
 France 9 1 1 7 11.11% 172 295 –123
 Hungary 1 1 0 0 100% 70 0 +70
 Italy 3 3 0 0 100% 121 42 +79
 Jamaica 1 0 0 1 0% 16 68 –52
 Lebanon 3 0 2 1 0% 50 74 –24
 Malta 2 2 0 0 100% 92 32 +60
 Moldova 1 1 0 0 100% 48 26 +22
 Morocco 1 1 0 0 100% 42 6 +36
 Māori 1 1 0 0 100% 30 16 +14
 Papua New Guinea 1 0 0 1 0% 6 14 –8
 Russia 4 3 0 1 75% 184 110 +74
 Samoa 2 2 0 0 100% 64 32 +32
 Scotland 14 10 0 4 71.43% 299 255 +44
 Serbia 2 2 0 0 100% 106 16 +90
 Spain 2 2 0 0 100% 88 14 +74
 Tonga 1 0 0 1 0% 20 22 –2
 United States 2 2 0 0 100% 98 38 +60
 Wales 10 4 0 6 40% 199 253 –54
Total 70 36 3 31 51.43% 1809 1669 +140

World Cup[edit]

World Cup Record World Cup qualification record
Year Round Position P W D L F A Pld W D L PF PA
France 1954 Did not enter Did not enter
Australia 1957
England 1960
AustraliaNew Zealand 1968
England 1970
France 1972
1975
AustraliaNew Zealand 1977
1985–88
1989–92
England 1995
United KingdomIrelandFrance 2000 Quarter-finals Fifth place 4 3 0 1 94 64 Qualified as co-hosts
Australia 2008 Semi-final qualifier Fifth place 3 1 0 2 68 68 4 2 2 0 142 64
EnglandWales2013 Group stage 14th 3 0 0 3 14 124 Automatic qualifier
AustraliaNew ZealandPapua New Guinea 2017 Group stage 9th 3 2 0 1 76 32 2 2 0 0 116 22
England 2021 Qualified 2 2 0 0 67 12
United StatesCanada 2025 Qualified Automatic qualifier
Total Fifth place 13 6 0 7 252 288 8 6 2 0 325 98

A red box around the year indicates tournaments played within Ireland.

European Championship[edit]

European Championship record
Year Round Position GP W L D
1935–1996 Did not enter
2003 Group Stage 3/3 2 1 1 0
2004 Second Place 2/6 3 2 1 0
2005 Group Stage 2/3 2 1 1 0
2009 Fourth Place 4/6 3 1 2 0
2010 Fourth Place 4/4 3 0 3 0
2012 Second Place 2/3 2 1 1 0
2014 Third Place 3/4 3 2 1 0
2015 Third Place 3/4 3 1 2 0
2018 Third Place 3/4 3 1 2 0
2020 Qualified Cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic
Total 0 Titles 9/9 24 10 14 0

Triangular Series[edit]

Triangular Series Record
Year Round Position GP W L D
1999 1st Place 1/3 2 2 0 0
Total 1 Title 1/1 2 2 0 0

This one-off tournament was contested by Ireland, Scotland and Wales.[22][23]

Coaches[edit]

Updated as of 10 November 2019

Name Tenure Matches Won Drawn Lost Win % Championships/Notes
England Terry Flanagan 1995–1996 5 3 0 2 60%
England Steve O'Neill 1997–1999 5 3 1 1 60% Triangular Series
England Andy Kelly 2000–2011 28 13 2 13 46.43%
England Mark Aston 2011– 2017 25 13 0 12 52%
Ireland Carl De Chenu (Interim) October 2016, June 2018 2 1 0 1 50%
Ireland Stuart Littler 2018–present 5 3 0 2 60%
Total 1995– 70 36 3 31 51.43%

Honours[edit]

  • 1999 Triangular Series

Stadium & Attendance[edit]

In 2015 Rugby League Ireland announced that the Carlisle Grounds in Bray, County Wicklow would become the official home ground of the national team.[24] Despite this announcement, Ireland have also subsequently used Morton Stadium in Santry as their home ground.[25]

Below is a list of the highest attendances for international rugby league matches in Ireland.

Rank Attendance Opponent Date Venue Metro area
1 5,716 Scotland 1995-08-13 RDS Arena Dublin[8]
2 5,021 Australia 2013-11-09 Thomond Park Limerick[15]
3 3,207 Samoa 2000-10-28 Windsor Park Belfast[26]
4 3,164 New Zealand Maori 2000-11-04 Tolka Park Dublin[27]
5 3,100 France 2011-11-05 Thomond Park Limerick[28]

Individual Records[edit]

Statistics are up up to date as of 19 December 2020.[29][30][31] Bold indicates current player.

Notable players[edit]

Below is a list of players who have also gained caps for either Australia, the Exiles, Great Britain or England in addition to their caps earned with Ireland.

Brian Carney was instrumental in Ireland's plan before his switch to rugby union
Australia Australia
England England
Exiles
United Kingdom Great Britain

Ireland A[edit]

Ireland Wolfhounds logo

The Ireland A team is selected from players in the Irish domestic competition, administered by Rugby League Ireland. The Ireland A side competed in the St Patrick's Day Challenge between 1996 and 2012 and in the Amateur Four Nations from 2003 to 2014.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ireland vs USA - Rugby League 1995". youtube. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Rugby League Ireland". Rugby League Ireland. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Competitions". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  4. ^ "Carney swaps codes with Munster". BBC Sport. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  5. ^ "About". Dublin RL. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  6. ^ "GETTING TO KNOW OUR WORLD CUP TEAMS". Leeds Rhinos. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Legacy: The Class of '95". Scotland RL. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  8. ^ a b c "Scotland vs. Ireland". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  9. ^ "1996 World Nines". RL Wales. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  10. ^ "Caisley dismisses rugby league Home Nations championship". RTE. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  11. ^ "Curtain falls on World Cup". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  12. ^ "Tonga 22-20 Ireland". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  13. ^ "Ireland 34-16 Samoa". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  14. ^ a b "Fiji 30-14 Ireland". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  15. ^ a b "Rugby League World Cup 2013: Australia 50-0 Ireland". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Ireland 36-12 Italy". BBC Sport. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  17. ^ "PNG scores thrilling win over Ireland sparking incredible scenes in Papua New Guinea". NewsComAu. 5 November 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Wales 6-34 Ireland". BBC Sport. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  19. ^ "World Cup organisers hoping for SBW to kick-off 2021 edition". National Rugby League. 16 January 2020. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  20. ^ "Match day squads confirmed for European qualifiers for RLWC2021". Rugby League Planet. 20 October 2019.
  21. ^ "Ireland". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  22. ^ "Triangular Series 1999". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  23. ^ "Sport: Rugby League Ireland make most of Eyres dismissal". BBC. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  24. ^ "RL Ireland has a new home". Love Rugby League. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  25. ^ "Super League stars feature in Ireland train-on squad". Total Rugby League. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  26. ^ "Ireland vs. Samoa". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  27. ^ "Ireland vs. New Zealand Maori". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  28. ^ "Ireland vs. France". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  29. ^ "Ireland". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  30. ^ "Ireland". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  31. ^ "Ireland". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  32. ^ "League star for Ireland?". espnscrum. Retrieved 6 March 2021.

External links[edit]