Ireland national rugby league team

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Ireland
Badge of Ireland team
Team information
NicknameWolfhounds
Governing bodyRugby League Ireland
RegionEurope
Head coachGed Corcoran
CaptainGeorge King
Most capsLiam Finn (32)
Top try-scorerStuart Littler (13)
Top point-scorerLiam Finn (170)
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
Appearances5 (first time in 2000)
Best resultQuarterfinals (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 five Rugby League World Cups2000, 2008, 2013, 2017 and 2021.[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 The Soldier's Song, 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] In April 2022 Offaly-born Ged Corcoran took over from Stuart Littler for the World Cup campaign.[20] Ireland finished the tournament with a 1–2 record beating Jamaica in their opener, before losing to Lebanon and New Zealand.[21]

Current squad[edit]

The 24-man national team squad selected for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup was announced on 29 September 2022.[22]

Player Caps Points Club
James Bentley 8 12 England Leeds Rhinos
Keanan Brand 0 0 England Leigh Leopards
Liam Byrne 7 0 England Wigan Warriors
Ed Chamberlain 6 14 England Leigh Leopards
Josh Cook 3 0 Australia Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Frankie Halton 5 4 England Hull Kingston Rovers
James Hasson 9 8 Australia South Sydney Rabbitohs
Jaimin Jolliffe 2 0 Australia Gold Coast Titans
Luke Keary 3 0 Australia Sydney Roosters
Joe Keyes 11 11 England Halifax Panthers
George King (c) 13 24 England Hull Kingston Rovers
Toby King 4 8 England Wigan Warriors
Ben Mathiou 0 0 England Featherstone Rovers
James McDonnell 1 4 England Wigan Warriors
Ronan Michael 6 0 England York City Knights
Robbie Mulhern 5 0 England Warrington Wolves
Richie Myler 3 0 England Leeds Rhinos
Dan Norman 1 0 England St Helens R.F.C.
Brendan O'Hagan 3 4 England York City Knights
Henry O'Kane 1 0 Australia Wests Tigers
Harry Rushton 3 0 Australia Canberra Raiders
Innes Senior 3 4 England Huddersfield Giants
Louis Senior 3 24 England Hull Kingston Rovers
Michael Ward 5 0 England Batley Bulldogs

Competitive records and ranking[edit]

Official rankings as of 9 July 2022
Rank Change Team Pts %
1 Steady  New Zealand 100.00
2 Increase 1  Tonga 68.00
3 Decrease 1  England 64.00
4 Steady  Australia 52.00
5 Steady  Papua New Guinea 36.00
6 Steady  Fiji 29.00
7 Increase 1  Samoa 17.00
8 Increase 1  Serbia 17.00
9 Decrease 2  France 16.00
10 Increase 5  Malta 14.00
11 Decrease 1  Greece 13.00
12 Steady  Ireland 11.00
13 Steady  Lebanon 11.00
14 Steady  Netherlands 11.00
15 Decrease 4  Scotland 11.00
16 Increase 7  Wales 8.00
17 Decrease 1  Italy 8.00
18 Decrease 1  Czech Republic 8.00
19 Steady  Turkey 7.00
20 Increase 2  Cook Islands 6.04
21 Decrease 3  Jamaica 6.03
22 Decrease 1  Poland 6.02
23 Decrease 3  Norway 5.00
24 Increase 2  Philippines 5.00
25 Increase 4  Germany 4.29
26 Decrease 1  Ukraine 4.00
27 Decrease 3  United States 3.81
28 Decrease 1  Nigeria 3.00
29 Decrease 1  Spain 3.00
30 Increase 8  South Africa 2.86
31 Steady  Ghana 2.85
32 Increase 11  Chile 2.80
33 Steady  Morocco 2.00
34 Decrease 2  Sweden 1.79
35 Increase 2  Hungary 1.72
36 Decrease 2  Cameroon 1.66
37 Decrease 2  Russia* 1.61
38 Decrease 2  Canada 1.31
39 Decrease 2  Solomon Islands 1.21
40 Increase 2  Brazil 1.06
41 Decrease 2  Bulgaria 1.04
42 Decrease 2  Vanuatu 1.03
43 Increase 1  Bosnia and Herzegovina 1.02
44 New entry  Montenegro 1.00
45 Steady  Colombia 0.50
46 Steady  Denmark 0.10
47 Decrease 6  Belgium 0.05
48 Decrease 1  Latvia 0.01
Note: *=currently suspended from international competition
Complete rankings at INTRL.SPORT

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 29 October 2022 [23]

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 2 1 0 1 50% 64 70 –6
 Lebanon 4 0 2 2 0% 64 106 –42
 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
 New Zealand 1 0 0 1 0% 10 48 –38
 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 3 3 0 0 100% 112 50 +62
 Wales 10 4 0 6 40% 199 253 –54
Total 74 38 3 33 51.35% 1895 1763 +132

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
England Ireland FranceScotlandWales 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 Group stage 9th 3 1 0 2 72 82 2 2 0 0 67 12
France 2025 Qualified Automatic qualifier
Total 5/16 Fifth place 16 7 0 9 324 370 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 Cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic
Total 9/33 0 Titles 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 1/1 1 Title 2 2 0 0

This one-off tournament was contested by Ireland, Scotland and Wales.[24][25]

Coaches[edit]

Updated as of 29 October 2022

Name Tenure Matches Won Drawn Lost Win % Championships/Notes
England Terry Flanagan 1995–1996 6 4 0 2 66.67%
England Steve O'Neill 1997–2001* 10 6 1 3 60% Triangular Series
England Daryl Powell 2003–2005 9 5 0 4 55.56%
England Andy Kelly[26] 2006–2010 14 5 2 7 35.71%
England Mark Aston[27] 2011–2017 20 8 0 12 40%
Ireland Carl De Chenu July – September 2015[28][29]
September – October 2016[30][31][32]
June 2018[33]
7 6 0 1 85.71%
Ireland Stuart Littler[20][34] 2018–2022 5 3 0 2 60%
Ireland Ged Corcoran 2022– 3 1 0 2 33.33%
Total 1995– 74 38 3 33 51.35%
 *Andy Kelly and Steve O'Neill were considered joint coaches during the 2000 World Cup and for Ireland's 2001 test with France.[35]
 Between 2015 and 2018 Carl De Chenu served as the domestic coach for test matches and assumed the role of assistant coach for the European Championships and World Cup.

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.[36] Despite this announcement, Ireland have also subsequently used Morton Stadium in Santry as their home ground.[37]

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[38]
4 3,164 New Zealand Maori 2000-11-04 Tolka Park Dublin[39]
5 3,100 France 2011-11-05 Thomond Park Limerick[40]

Individual Records[edit]

Statistics are up to date as of 30 October 2022.[41][42][43] 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 2000 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.[dead YouTube link]
  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. ^ a b "Ged Corcoran named as new Ireland Rugby League head coach". RTE. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  21. ^ "Ireland are outclassed by New Zealand in the Rugby League World Cup". the42. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  22. ^ "Ireland's 24-man Rugby League World Cup 2021 squad". RLI. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  23. ^ "Ireland". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 16 October 2022.
  24. ^ "Triangular Series 1999". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  25. ^ "Sport: Rugby League Ireland make most of Eyres dismissal". BBC. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  26. ^ "Ireland and Kelly part ways". Sky Sports. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  27. ^ "Stuart Littler appointed new Ireland rugby league coach". RTE. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  28. ^ "Irish rugby leaguers to play Belgium at Carlisle Grounds". Irish Independent. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  29. ^ "IRELAND NAME STRONG SQUAD FOR EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP". European Rugby League. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  30. ^ "Casey Dunne scores hat-trick of tries as late Ireland charge sees off Italy". Sky Sports. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  31. ^ "Ireland fire 10-try World Cup warning with win over Malta". Rugby League Planet. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  32. ^ "Ireland face step up in class against the Reggae Warriors". Harpin on Rugby. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  33. ^ "Hungary and Ireland announce squads for Budapest Test". Love Rugby League. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  34. ^ "Ireland confirm departure of Stuart Littler as head coach ahead of World Cup". Love Rugby League. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  35. ^ "Rugby League: World Cup coaching duo reappointed". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  36. ^ "RL Ireland has a new home". Love Rugby League. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  37. ^ "Super League stars feature in Ireland train-on squad". Total Rugby League. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  38. ^ "Ireland vs. Samoa". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  39. ^ "Ireland vs. New Zealand Maori". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  40. ^ "Ireland vs. France". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  41. ^ "Ireland". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  42. ^ "Ireland". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  43. ^ "Ireland". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  44. ^ "League star for Ireland?". espnscrum. Retrieved 6 March 2021.

External links[edit]