Ireland national rugby union team

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Not to be confused with Ireland national rugby league team.
Ireland rugby.png
Union Irish Rugby Football Union
Emblem(s) The Shamrock
Ground(s) Aviva Stadium
Coach(es) Joe Schmidt
Captain(s) TBA
Most caps Brian O'Driscoll (133)
Top scorer Ronan O'Gara (1,083)
Most tries Brian O'Driscoll (46)
Team kit
Change kit
First international
 England 7–0 Ireland 
(15 February 1875)
Largest win
 United States 3–83 Ireland 
(10 June 2000)
Largest defeat
 New Zealand 60–0 Ireland 
(23 June 2012)
World Cup
Appearances 8/8 (First in 1987)
Best result Quarter-Finals, 1987, 1991, 1995, 2003, 2011, 2015.

The Ireland national rugby union team represents the island of Ireland (both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) in rugby union. The team competes annually in (and are current holders of) the Six Nations Championship, which they have won twelve times outright and shared eight times. The team also competes every four years in the Rugby World Cup, where they reached the quarter-final stage in all but two competitions (1999 and 2007). Ireland is also one of the four unions that make up the British and Irish Lions – players eligible to play for Ireland are also eligible for the Lions.

Ireland's highest ever position in the World Rugby Rankings is second, which they reached for the first time in 2015.[1] As of 1 November 2015, Ireland are 6th in the world rankings.

Eight former Ireland players have earned induction into the International Rugby Hall of Fame, with five of them also having earned induction into the World Rugby Hall of Fame; one other former player is a member of the World Rugby Hall only. Former outside centre and captain Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland's all-time leader in tries scored, was considered one of the best rugby players in the world,[2][3][4][5] and led Ireland to only their second Grand Slam in 2009.


Early years: 1875–1900[edit]

Dublin University was the first organised rugby football club in Ireland, having been founded in 1854. The club was organised by students who had learnt the game while at public schools in Great Britain. During the third quarter of the nineteenth century, and following the adoption of a set of official rules in 1868, rugby football began to spread quickly throughout Ireland, resulting in the formation of several other clubs which are still in existence, including NIFC (1868); Wanderers (1869); Queen's University (1869); Lansdowne (1873); Dungannon (1873); Co. Carlow (1873); UCC (1874); and Ballinasloe (1875) which amalgamated with Athlone to form Buccaneers.[6]

First Ireland rugby team: played England on 19 February 1875 and lost by 2 goals and a try to nil

In 1874, the Irish Football Union (reconstituted as the Irish Rugby Football Union after unification with the North of Ireland Union) was formed. Ireland lost their first test match against England 7–0 at the Oval on 15 February 1875. Both teams fielded 20 players in this match,[7] as was customary in the early years of rugby union; it was not until 1877 that the number of players was reduced from 20 to 15. Ireland's first home game was also against England in the same year held at the Leinster Cricket Club in Rathmines as Lansdowne Road was deemed unsuitable. The first match at Lansdowne Road was held on 11 March 1878, with England beating Ireland by 2 goals and 1 try to nil.

It was not until 1881 that Ireland first won a test, beating Scotland at Ormeau in Belfast. Ireland turned up two men short for their game in Cardiff in 1884 and had to borrow two Welsh players. The first victory Ireland had at Lansdowne Road took place on 5 February 1887. It was also their first win over England, by two goals to nil. On the third of March 1888, Ireland recorded their first win over Wales with a goal, a try and a drop goal to nil.

In 1894, Ireland followed the Welsh model of using seven backs instead of six for the first time. After victory over England at Blackheath, Ireland won back-to-back matches for the first time when recording their first win over Scotland on 24 February 1894. Ireland went on to beat Wales in Belfast and win the Triple Crown for the first time.

In the 1890s, Rugby was primarily a game for the Protestant middle class, the only Catholic in Edmund Forrest’s 1894 team was Tom Crean.[8] Of the eighteen players used in the three games, thirteen were from three Dublin clubs – Wanderers, Dublin University and Bective Rangers – and the remaining five were from Ulster. They went on to win the Home international championship twice more before the old century was out (1896 and 1899), so that by 1901 all four of the Home Unions had tasted success at a game that was growing in popularity with players and spectators.

Early 20th century: 1901–45[edit]

1920 illustration of the Ireland versus Wales rugby match

Such was the level of interest in the visit of the first All Blacks team to Dublin in November 1905 that the IRFU made the match the first all-ticket rugby international in history. Ireland played only seven forwards, copying the then New Zealand method of playing a "rover". The game ended New Zealand 15 Ireland 0.

On 20 March 1909, Ireland played France for the first time, beating them 19–8. This was Ireland's biggest victory in international rugby at that time, their highest points tally and a record five tries. 30 November 1912 was the first time the Springboks met Ireland at Lansdowne Road, the 1906 tour game having been played at Ravenhill. Ireland with seven new caps were overwhelmed by a record margin of 38–0, still a record loss to South Africa who scored 10 tries. In 1926, Ireland went into their final Five Nations match unbeaten and with the Grand Slam at stake lost to Wales in Swansea. Ireland again came close to a grand slam in 1927 when their sole loss was an 8–6 defeat by England.

Post-war: 1945–70[edit]

In 1948, inspired by fly-half Jack Kyle, Ireland clinched their first Grand Slam in the Five Nations. Ireland were champions and Triple Crown winners again in 1949, only the fourth time that the Triple Crown had been retained. In 1951, Ireland were once more crowned Five Nations champions.

1952 saw only Ireland's second overseas tour, the first for over half a century – as they headed to Argentina for a nine-match trip which included two test matches. Ireland won six, drew two and lost one of the matches, their Test record being won one, drawn one.

On 27 February 1954, Ireland played Scotland at Ravenhill in Belfast. The eleven Republic-based players protested "God Save the Queen", and an abbreviated anthem known as "the Salute" was instead played. Ireland beat Scotland 6–0, and did not play in Northern Ireland again until 2007.[9] In 1958, Ireland beat Australia 9–6 in Dublin, the first time a major touring team had been defeated.[citation needed]

Ireland managed just three victories in the Five Nations Championship; against England in 1961, Wales in 1963 and England again in 1964. There were also draws against England and Wales at Lansdowne Road to the end of 1964.

1965 saw an improvement as Ireland drew with France before beating England and Scotland. On 10 April 1965 at Lansdowne Road Ireland recorded their first ever win over South Africa.[citation needed] Ireland beat Australia again in Dublin in 1967. Ireland became the first of the home nations to win in the Southern Hemisphere when they beat Australia in Sydney in May 1967.[citation needed] On 26 October 1968, Ireland made it four successive wins over the Wallabies with a 16–3 win at Lansdowne Road.

In 1969, Ireland claimed a 17–9 victory over France in the Five Nations, a first victory over Les Bleus in 11 years. In the autumn of 1969, the Irish Rugby Football Union appointed a coach for the national team for the first time, the role went to Ronnie Dawson.

Later 20th century: 1970–94[edit]

The 1972 Five Nations Championship was not completed when Scotland and Wales refused to play in Ireland following threatening letters to players, purportedly from the IRA.[citation needed] The championship remained unresolved with Wales and Ireland unbeaten. In 1973, despite similar threats, England fulfilled their fixture and were given a standing ovation that lasted for five minutes. Ireland won 18–9. Ireland came close to a first win over the All Blacks on 20 January 1973, but tied 10–10. In the final match of the 1974 season, Ireland won their first Five Nations Championship since 1951.

Willie John McBride was coach until 1984. In 1982, Ireland, led by fly-half Ollie Campbell, win the Five Nations and their first Triple Crown in 33 years. Three years later in 1985, Ireland won the Five Nations and the Triple Crown again. It would be Ireland's last silverware until 2004.

Ireland were whitewashed in the 1986 Five Nations Championship. On 1 November 1986, Ireland scored 10 tries against Romania in a 60–0 win, the biggest win in international rugby at the time, equalling the French record set in 1967.[citation needed]

At the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup, victories over Tonga and Canada saw Ireland through to the quarter-finals, where they were beaten 33–15 by joint hosts Australia.

Ireland failed to win the Five Nations in the whole of the 1990s, never finishing outside the bottom two. In 1991, they lost their test series against Namibia.

The second Rugby World Cup took place in 1991 in Britain, Ireland and France. After wins over Japan and Zimbabwe, Ireland lost 24–15 at Murrayfield. Ireland played the Wallabies at Lansdowne Road in the quarter final and appeared to be on the verge of a shock victory over Australia, when Michael Lynagh scored the winning try to clinch a 19–18 win for Australia.

At the 1994 Five Nations Championship, Ireland beat England at Twickenham.

Professional era begins: 1995–2005[edit]

Ireland playing at Croke Park.

At the 1995 World Cup, Ireland came through their group with a 24–23 win against Wales to make their third consecutive quarter-final appearance. Unfortunately, France proved too strong, with Ireland going down 36–12 in the quarter finals.

The start of the professional era was disappointing for Ireland, who finished bottom of the Five Nations Championship three years in succession (1996, 1997 and 1998). Warren Gatland took over as coach in 1998, but was unable to produce immediate success. 1999 was the first time Ireland failed to reach the quarter finals at a Rugby World Cup. The 1999 World Cup was staged primarily in Wales, though Ireland played all their pool games in Dublin. In a play-off, Ireland were beaten 28–24 by Argentina and failed to reach the quarter finals.

From this nadir, however, Irish rugby improved rapidly. With the advent of professionalism, the Irish Rugby Football Union converted the four representative provincial sides into de facto club sides, with the financial capacity to retain Irish talent, and retaining strong links with Irish amateur clubs and schools. The later formation in 2001 of the Celtic League (now called the Pro12) ensured that Irish provincial sides had regular competitive rugby.

The advent of the new Six Nations format coincided with this Irish resurgence, and they became the strongest of the Celtic nations.[citation needed] In 2001, Ireland finished second. Eddie O'Sullivan took over as coach in November 2001 after Warren Gatland was sacked. The 2003 Six Nations Championship saw Ireland lose to England in the Grand Slam decider at Lansdowne Road. That defeat ended a home unbeaten run that stretched to 10 tests since September 2002.

Paul O'Connell winning the line-out against Argentina in 2007.

In 2004, Ireland became the first team to beat England following their World Cup win, and finished second overall and won the Triple Crown. In the 2005 Six Nations, Ireland won their first three matches, but two losses meant that Ireland finished in third place.

Croke Park and new stadium: 2006–2010[edit]

In the 2006 Six Nations, Ireland won the Triple Crown for the second time in three years and finished second overall. On their annual tour to the southern hemisphere they ran New Zealand close twice. In the last autumn international at Lansdowne Road, Ireland beat Australia 21–6 to reach a best-ever 3rd in the IRB World Rankings.[citation needed]

In 2007, the IRFU created the "High Performance Select Group" of up-and-coming Irish players.[10] With the rebuilding of Lansdowne Road, a new venue was required; Croke Park, home of the Gaelic Athletic Association, hosted two 2007 Six Nations games against France and England. Ireland's 2008 Six Nations campaign included three losses. Eddie O'Sullivan resigned as Ireland coach and Declan Kidney was appointed.[11]

Brian O'Driscoll lifs the 2009 Six Nations Grand slam trophy.

Ireland won the 2009 Six Nations Championship and Grand Slam, their first Six Nations win since 1985 and first Grand Slam since 1948.[12][13] After an Autumn Series victory against South Africa and a draw against Australia, Ireland ended 2009 unbeaten.

In the 2010 Six Nations Ireland beat England and Wales.[14] But in Ireland's final game of the Six Nations, and the last-ever game at Croke Park, Ireland lost to Scotland 20–23 and failed to win the Triple Crown.[15] In their 2010 Summer Tests Ireland were thrashed by New Zealand 66–28, their heaviest-ever defeat.[citation needed] Ireland began their 2010 Autumn Tests with a 21–23 defeat by South Africa, the first international at the new Aviva Stadium.

2011 to present[edit]

In the 2011 Six Nations Championship Ireland lost 22–25 to France in the first Six Nations match to be played at the Aviva Stadium. Wales defeated Ireland 19–13. During the game, Ronan O'Gara became the first Irishman, and only the fifth player, to score 1,000-points. In Ireland's 24–8 win against England, Brian O'Driscoll scored his 25th try to set a new Six Nations record for tries scored.[citation needed]

Ireland's 2012 Six Nations Championship campaign included two wins, two losses, and one draw, with Ireland finishing third overall.[16] Ireland's 2012 summer tour of New Zealand included a 22–19 loss, followed by a 60–0 thrashing, Ireland's heaviest ever defeat.[17]

Ireland celebrate their 2014 Six Nations Championship.

The 2013 Six Nations Championship saw Ireland finish with two wins, two losses, and one draw. The two losses included their first home loss to England in 10 years;[18] and their first ever loss to Italy in the Six Nations.[19] The IRFU declined to extend Declan Kidney's contract, and Joe Schmidt was announced as the new Ireland coach.[20] In their 2013 end-of-year rugby union tests, Ireland lost 22–24 to New Zealand, having led throughout the match only to be denied by a late try.[21]

Ireland opened their 2014 Six Nations Championship with wins over Scotland and Wales.[22] Ireland lost 10–13 to England.[23] Ireland won their next match against Italy 46–7.[24] Ireland beat France 22–20 in the final round to claim the Six Nations title.[25] In November they defeated South Africa 29–15 and Australia 26–23 at Dublin.

Ireland retained the Six Nations Championship in 2015 with a 40–10 win over Scotland. Ireland became Six Nations Champions for the second year running on points difference. Following wins against Wales and Scotland during warm-up matches for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Ireland briefly reached its highest-ever position of second in the World Rugby rankings.

Playing strip[edit]

Ireland's traditional strip consists of a green jersey, white shorts, and green socks. Their emblem consists of a shamrock and rugby ball; a shamrock has been incorporated into the emblem since the side first played in 1874.

Between 1996 and the summer of 2002, Ireland's main shirt sponsor was Irish Permanent. They were replaced by Permanent TSB, who sponsored the shirt until the autumn of 2006. O2 were Ireland's main shirt sponsor from then until 2014. 3 have been the shirt sponsor since August 2014.

Before 1992, Umbro supplied kit to Ireland. Nike were the suppliers between 1992 and the summer of 2000. Canterbury of New Zealand took over after the summer of 2000 and was the supplier until June 2009. In November 2009, Puma took on the supply of Ireland's playing and training kit. In January 2014, Canterbury and the IRFU signed a deal which will see Canterbury supply Ireland's playing and training kit from November 2014 until 2020.[26]

Period Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor
?–1991 Umbro No shirt sponsor
1992–1996 Nike
1996–2000 Permanent TSB*
2000–2006 Canterbury
2006–2009 O2
2009–2014 Puma
2014–present Canterbury[26] 3

* Between 1996 to summer 2000, it was known as Irish Permanent before reverting to Permanent TSB before the sponsorship ended in summer 2006.

Flags and anthems[edit]

Flag of the IRFU

The Irish rugby union team is one of many teams that draws its players from across the Island of Ireland and therefore can contain players from either Ireland or Northern Ireland. In the past this has led to issues surrounding certain flag and anthem usage. When Irish internationals were played alternately in Belfast and Dublin, the UK national anthem was played for matches in Belfast and the national anthem of Ireland "Amhrán na bhFiann" was played for matches in Dublin.[citation needed] No anthem was played at away games.

Since April 1995, a specifically composed anthem named "Ireland's Call" has been used exclusively by the Irish team at away games.[27] This has prompted some players and supporter complaints that "Amhrán na bhFiann" should also be played.[28] At games played in Dublin "Ireland's Call" is always used alongside "Amhrán na bhFiann".[29] This use of "Amhrán na bhFiann" has caused similar complaints from players and supporters within a segment of the unionist community in Northern Ireland.[citation needed] With Ireland's friendly game against Italy in the run up to the 2007 Rugby World Cup scheduled to be held in Belfast, there were calls for "God Save the Queen" to be used alongside "Ireland's Call" but this was turned down by the IRFU[30] with the explanation given that both Ireland's Call and Amhrán na bhFiann are only played together in Dublin, and that outside of Ireland, the anthem of Ireland's Call is exclusively used.[31]

At the 2011 Rugby World Cup and 2015 Rugby World Cup, the Ireland team entered the field of play at the beginning of their matches with the Irish tricolour and the Flag of Ulster,[citation needed] to which the six Irish counties in Northern Ireland belong.

Home grounds[edit]

Lansdowne Road, the former home of Irish rugby, seen here during a Leinster-Munster game.

The traditional home of Irish rugby is Lansdowne Road in Dublin, where most of Ireland's home matches were held. The stadium was rebuilt between 2007 and 2010. Naming rights were sold to an insurance company, and the venue is now referred to as the Aviva Stadium.

The original stadium, owned by the Irish Rugby Football Union, was built in 1872, and so the venue continues to hold the distinction as the oldest still in use for international rugby. In 1878 the ground hosted its first rugby Test, with Ireland playing host to the English (the first representative rugby match had taken place prior to the Test, a game between Ulster and Leinster). Lansdowne Road had a capacity of just over 49,000 before it was demolished in summer 2007. The redeveloped stadium seats 51,700 and was opened in May 2010. The final Irish Test prior to work commencing on the remodelled stadium was against the Pacific Islanders in late 2006.

With Lansdowne Road unavailable for use, Ireland was without a suitable home ground for the subsequent Six Nations. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)-owned Croke Park (an 82,500 capacity stadium) was made available for Ireland's two home games against France and England in 2007. It was the first time ever that rugby had been played at the venue. Croke Park remained in use for Ireland's Six Nations matches and other major Tests until the completion of the redevelopment at Lansdowne Road.

Aviva Stadium, on Lansdowne Road.

The first Ireland match at the rebuilt stadium was against reigning World Cup champions South Africa on 6 November 2010. South Africa won the match 23–22. Because of the historic significance of this match, South Africa announced that they would wear their change strip to allow Ireland to wear their home green; normally, the home team change their colours in the event of a clash.[32]

Although Ireland has never totally hosted the Rugby World Cup, select games from both the 1991 and 1999 World Cups were played throughout venues in Ireland. Pool B in 1991 was mainly played in Ireland and Scotland, with two games at Lansdowne Road (involving Ireland) and one (Zimbabwe v Japan) played at Ravenhill, Belfast. A quarter-final and a semi-final were also hosted by Dublin. A similar system was used in 1999, though in addition to Lansdowne and Ravenhill, Thomond Park was also a venue. Lansdowne Road was also the host of a quarter-final in 1999. Ireland were set to host matches at Lansdowne Road for the 2007 World Cup, but due to scheduling conflicts with the reconstruction of the stadium, they decided they were not in a position to host any.[33]


Six Nations[edit]

Ireland's Grand slam trophy haul in 2009

The Six Nations Championship, held every year in February and March, is Ireland's only annual tournament. It is contested against England, France, Italy, Scotland and Wales. Ireland was a member of the inaugural Home Nations in 1883, with France and Italy joining later to form the Five and Six Nations respectively. Ireland won their first championship in 1894, also winning the Triple Crown. Ireland's first Grand Slam occurred in the 1948 season and their second in the 2009 season. In total Ireland have been champions on thirteen occasions following their title in the 2015 Six Nations Championship.

Rugby World Cup[edit]

World Cup record World Cup Qualification record
Year Round GP Won Drew Lost PF PA GP W D L PF PA
AustraliaNew Zealand 1987 Quarter Final 4 2 0 2 99 74 Automatically qualified
EnglandFranceIrelandScotlandWales 1991 Quarter Final 4 2 0 2 120 70
South Africa 1995 Quarter Final 4 2 0 2 105 130
Wales 1999 Quarter Final playoff 4 2 0 2 124 73 2 2 0 0 123 35
Australia 2003 Quarter Final 5 3 0 2 162 99 2 2 0 0 98 17
France 2007 Pool Stage 4 2 0 2 64 82 Automatically qualified
New Zealand 2011 Quarter Final 5 4 0 1 145 56
England 2015 Quarter Final 5 4 0 1 154 78
Japan 2019 - - - - - - -
Total ' 35 21 0 14 973 662 4 4 0 0 221 52

Ireland have competed at every Rugby World Cup tournament. The furthest they have progressed is the quarter-finals, which they have made five times out of seven. They have finished top of their pool twice, in 2011, after beating pool favourite Australia, and in 2015 leaving France in 2nd place.

In the first tournament, held in Australia and New Zealand in 1987, Ireland finished second in their pool after a loss to Wales, before Ireland were knocked out by Australia in the quarter final in Sydney.

In 1991 Ireland again lost one match in pool play, this time to Scotland. Ireland again met Australia in the quarter-finals, losing by one point.

In 1995 Ireland were runner-up in their pool to the All Blacks. Ireland were defeated by France in their quarter-final in Durban.

In 1999 Ireland finished second in their pool behind Australia, and went into the quarter-final play-offs (a system exclusive to the 1999 tournament). There they lost to Argentina, and thus, not being a quarter-finalists, Ireland were not given automatic entry into the 2003 tournament.

Ireland and Australia contesting a line-out in the 2011 Rugby World Cup

In qualifying matches, Ireland defeated Russia and Georgia to advance to the 2003 tournament. Ireland finished second to Australia in their pool, and were knocked out by France in the quarter finals.

In the 2007 World Cup Ireland played in the so-called "Group of death" with hosts France, Argentina, Namibia and Georgia. Ireland defeated Namibia in their opening game 32–17.[34] Their progress was then put into doubt when they beat Georgia 14–10, not obtaining a bonus point.[35] Ireland lost to France 25–3.[36] Entering their last group match against Argentina, needing four tries to secure a bonus point without allowing Argentina anything, Ireland were defeated 30-15 and crashed out at the pool stage for the first time.[37]

Ireland were in Pool C for the 2011 Rugby World Cup with Australia, Russia, USA and Italy. Their first pool game was against the USA, which ended in a 22–10 victory for Ireland.[38] Ireland's second pool game was against Australia. Despite being underdogs, Ireland recorded their first victory over Australia at a World Cup with a 15–6 win.[39] Ireland comfortably beat Russia 62–12 in their third pool game.[40] Ireland secured first place in the pool with a 36–6 win over Italy, the first time that Ireland were group winners in their World Cup history.[41] Ireland lost their quarter final to Wales 10–22.[42]

Ireland topped Pool D of the 2015 Rugby World Cup with four victories, two with bonus points. They kicked off their campaign with a 50-7 win[43] over Canada in the Millennium Stadium on 19 September 2015. Another bonus point victory followed in front of a world record Rugby World Cup crowd[44] of 89,267 at the home of England football, Wembley Stadium. Two tries a piece for Tommy Bowe and Keith Earls and one each from Rob Kearney and Chris Henry were enough to see of a Romania 44-10.[45] Ireland then moved on to the Olympic Stadium to face Italy, coming out on top 16-9[46] in a drab game, the only try coming from Keith Earls who surpassed Brian O'Driscoll as Ireland's leading Rugby World Cup try scorer with 8. The final pool game would decide who topped Pool D and saw Ireland return to the Millennium Stadium to face France. The winner would set up a quarter final against Argentina and avoid the All Blacks. Ireland bossed the game from the start and overcame the loss to injury of key players Jonathan Sexton, Peter O'Mahony and Paul O'Connell to run out 24-9[47] winners, with tries from Rob Kearney and Conor Murray. The injury to Paul O'Connell would end his illustrious career in a green jersey.[48] The victory set up another game for Ireland in the Millennium Stadium against Pool C runners up Argentina on 18 October 2015.

Ireland battled valiantly and came back from a 17-point deficit to come within 3 points of their opponents, but a series of mistakes spelt the end for Ireland's RWC of 2015


Top 25 rankings as on 23 November 2015[49]
Rank Change* Team Points
1 Steady  New Zealand 96.10
2 Steady  Australia 89.33
3 Steady  South Africa 87.66
4 Steady  Wales 83.49
5 Steady  Argentina 82.59
6 Steady  Ireland 81.17
7 Steady  France 79.77
8 Steady  England 79.77
9 Steady  Scotland 77.94
10 Steady  Japan 77.05
11 Steady  Fiji 76.96
12 Steady  Italy 72.74
13 Steady  Tonga 71.60
14 Steady  Georgia 71.45
15 Steady  Samoa 70.36
16 Steady  United States 68.66
17 Steady  Romania 66.59
18 Increase3  Russia 63.54
19 Decrease1  Canada 62.65
20 Decrease1  Uruguay 62.11
21 Increase1  Spain 61.96
22 Decrease2  Namibia 61.75
23 Steady  Hong Kong 57.17
24 Steady  Chile 56.92
25 Steady  South Korea 56.70
*Change from the previous week
Ireland's Historical Rankings
Ireland IRB World Rankings.png
Source: World Rugby - Graph updated to 1 November 2015[49]

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by an Ireland national XV at test level up until 11 October 2015.[50]

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
 Argentina 16 10 6 0 62.50% 351 326 +25
 Australia 32 10 21 1 31.25% 453 657 -204
 Canada 7 6 0 1 85.71% 276 84 +192
 England 130 47 75 8 36.15% 1069 1505 -436
 Fiji 3 3 0 0 100.00% 149 31 +118
 France 94 32 55 7 34.04% 1108 1517 -409
 Georgia 4 4 0 0 100.00% 196 31 +165
 Italy 25 21 4 0 84.00% 788 391 +397
 Japan 5 5 0 0 100.00% 251 83 +168
 Namibia 4 2 2 0 50.00% 117 65 +52
 New Zealand 28 0 27 1 0.00% 310 812 -502
 New Zealand Natives 1 0 1 0 0.00% 1G 4G -3G
 Pacific Islanders 1 1 0 0 100.00% 61 17 +44
 Presidents XV 1 0 0 1 0.00% 18 18 0
 Romania 9 9 0 0 100.00% 390 102 +288
 Russia 2 2 0 0 100.00% 97 15 +82
 Samoa 6 5 1 0 83.33% 209 103 +106
 Scotland 131 60 66 5 45.80% 1440 1355 +85
 South Africa 22 5 16 1 22.73% 277 432 -155
 Tonga 2 2 0 0 100.00% 72 28 +44
 United States 8 8 0 0 100.00% 306 82 +224
 Wales 123 50 67 6 40.65% 1365 1461 -96
 Zimbabwe 1 1 0 0 100.00% 55 11 +44
Total 655 283 341 31 43.21% 9358 9126 +232


Current squad[edit]

On the 1 September 2015 Joe Schmidt named his 31-man squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.[51] On 12 October Rhys Ruddock replaced Peter O'Mahony following an injury in the pool stage match against France. On 13 October Mike McCarthy replaced Paul O'Connell who had also been injured in the match against France. On 17 October Isaac Boss replaced Jared Payne who had injured his foot in the match against Romania. Due to the absence of Paul O'Connell, vice-captain Jamie Heaslip captains the squad.[52] All squad members are contracted to play their club rugby in Ireland.

  • Caps updated: 18 October 2015
Player Position Date of Birth (Age) Caps Club/province
Best, RoryRory Best Hooker (1982-08-15) 15 August 1982 (age 33) 89 Ulster
Cronin, SeanSean Cronin Hooker (1986-05-06) 6 May 1986 (age 29) 48 Leinster
Strauss, RichardtRichardt Strauss Hooker (1986-01-29) 29 January 1986 (age 29) 13 Leinster
Furlong, TadhgTadhg Furlong Prop (1992-11-14) 14 November 1992 (age 23) 3 Leinster
Healy, CianCian Healy Prop (1987-10-07) 7 October 1987 (age 28) 56 Leinster
McGrath, JackJack McGrath Prop (1989-10-11) 11 October 1989 (age 26) 25 Leinster
Ross, MikeMike Ross Prop (1979-12-21) 21 December 1979 (age 35) 56 Leinster
White, NathanNathan White Prop (1981-09-04) 4 September 1981 (age 34) 8 Connacht
Henderson, IainIain Henderson Lock (1992-02-21) 21 February 1992 (age 23) 23 Ulster
McCarthy, MikeMike McCarthy Lock (1981-11-27) 27 November 1981 (age 34) 17 Leinster
Ryan, DonnachaDonnacha Ryan Lock (1983-12-11) 11 December 1983 (age 31) 34 Munster
Toner, DevinDevin Toner Lock (1986-06-29) 29 June 1986 (age 29) 31 Leinster
Henry, ChrisChris Henry Flanker (1984-10-17) 17 October 1984 (age 31) 24 Ulster
Murphy, JordiJordi Murphy Flanker (1991-04-22) 22 April 1991 (age 24) 14 Leinster
O'Brien, SeánSeán O'Brien Flanker (1987-02-14) 14 February 1987 (age 28) 41 Leinster
Ruddock, RhysRhys Ruddock Flanker (1990-11-13) 13 November 1990 (age 25) 6 Leinster
Heaslip, JamieJamie Heaslip (c) Number 8 (1983-12-15) 15 December 1983 (age 31) 80 Leinster
Boss, IsaacIsaac Boss Scrum-half (1980-04-09) 9 April 1980 (age 35) 22 Leinster
Murray, ConorConor Murray Scrum-half (1989-04-20) 20 April 1989 (age 26) 42 Munster
Reddan, EoinEoin Reddan Scrum-half (1980-11-20) 20 November 1980 (age 35) 68 Leinster
Jackson, PaddyPaddy Jackson Fly-half (1992-01-05) 5 January 1992 (age 23) 13 Ulster
Madigan, IanIan Madigan Fly-half (1989-03-21) 21 March 1989 (age 26) 25 Leinster
Sexton, JonathanJonathan Sexton Fly-half (1985-07-11) 11 July 1985 (age 30) 56 Leinster
Cave, DarrenDarren Cave Centre (1987-04-05) 5 April 1987 (age 28) 11 Ulster
Earls, KeithKeith Earls Centre (1987-10-02) 2 October 1987 (age 28) 46 Munster
Henshaw, RobbieRobbie Henshaw Centre (1993-06-12) 12 June 1993 (age 22) 15 Connacht
Bowe, TommyTommy Bowe Wing (1984-02-22) 22 February 1984 (age 31) 67 Ulster
Fitzgerald, LukeLuke Fitzgerald Wing (1987-09-13) 13 September 1987 (age 28) 34 Leinster
Kearney, DavidDavid Kearney Wing (1989-06-19) 19 June 1989 (age 26) 14 Leinster
Zebo, SimonSimon Zebo Wing (1990-03-16) 16 March 1990 (age 25) 21 Munster
Kearney, RobRob Kearney Fullback (1986-03-26) 26 March 1986 (age 29) 67 Leinster

Historical players[edit]

Hall of Fame[edit]

Eight former Ireland players have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame; five of these individuals have also had the added honour of induction into the IRB Hall of Fame—Kyle in 2008;[53] McBride, Millar and O'Reilly in 2009;[54] and Gibson in 2011.[55] Ronnie Dawson, who is not a member of the International Hall, was inducted into the IRB Hall in 2013.[56]

Individual records[edit]

Four players have represented Ireland in 100 Tests or more: Brian O'Driscoll with 133 caps, Ronan O'Gara with 128, John Hayes with 105, and Paul O'Connell with 100.[57] Including Lions caps, O'Driscoll has 141 caps (2nd highest in rugby), O'Gara has 130, and Hayes has 107.

O'Gara also holds the Ireland record for Test points with 1,083,[58] placing him fourth all-time in international rugby. He also holds the record for highest points scorer in the Six Nations with 557.[59] O'Driscoll has scored 46 tries for Ireland – an Irish record.[60]

British and Irish Lions[edit]

The following Ireland players have represented the British and Irish Lions.[61]


The IRFU first decided to appoint a coach in 1968. The current head coach is Joe Schmidt who has been in the position since 2013.

Media coverage[edit]

Ireland's end of year tests were by the BBC until 2013 before Sky Sports secured the rights.

See also[edit]


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  3. ^ "O'Driscoll still world's best centre, insists Kiwi backs coach Smith". Irish Independent. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "The 50 greatest rugby players of the modern era... #3 Brian O'Driscoll". WalesOnline. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "Ranking the 6 Best Centres in Rugby History". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
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  8. ^ Editor (2011-10-19). "Connacht Gear Up For Launch Of New Kits : Irish Rugby | Official Website". Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  9. ^ Frank Keating (27 February 2007). "How Ravenhill rebels made an issue out of an anthem". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 31 October 2008. 
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  28. ^ Barry, Kevin (10 March 2005). "‘Ireland’s Call’ is the right anthem". University College Cork. Retrieved 8 February 2007. [dead link]
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  34. ^ "Ireland 32–17 Namibia". BBC Sport. 9 September 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  35. ^ "Ireland 14–10 Georgia". BBC Sport. 15 September 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  36. ^ "France 25–3 Ireland". BBC Sport. 21 September 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  37. ^ "Argentina 30–15 Ireland". BBC Sport. 30 September 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  38. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2011: Ireland 22–10 USA". BBC Sport. 11 September 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  39. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2011: Australia 6–15 Ireland". BBC Sport. 17 September 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  40. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2011: Ireland 62–12 Russia". BBC Sport. 25 September 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  41. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2011: Ireland 36–6 Italy". BBC Sport. 2 October 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  42. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2011: Wales 22–10 Ireland". BBC Sport. 8 October 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  43. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2015: Ireland 50-7 Canada". Sport. 19 September 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2015. 
  44. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2015: RWC 2015 breaks another record at Wembley Stadium". Sport. 27 September 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  45. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2015: Ireland 44-10 Romania". Sport. 27 September 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  46. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2015: Ireland 16-9 Italy". Sport. 4 October 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  47. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2015: Ireland 24–9 France". BBC Sport. 11 October 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015. 
  48. ^ "Injury ends Paul O'Connell's Ireland career". RTE Sport. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  49. ^ a b "World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  50. ^ "Rugby Union - ESPN Scrum - Statsguru - Test matches - Team records". espnscrum. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  51. ^ "Trimble misses out as Schmidt makes tough calls". World Rugby. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  52. ^ "Henry: It was a privilege to be in the huddle with Paulie, the team-talk writes itself this week". The42. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015. There’s a lot at stake and Jamie (Heaslip, vice captain) speaks really well, 
  53. ^ "IRB Hall of Fame Welcomes Five Inductees". International Rugby Board. 23 November 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2008. 
  54. ^ "IRB Hall of Fame: The 2009 Induction" (PDF) (Press release). International Rugby Board. 27 October 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009. 
  55. ^ "Mike Gibson inducted into IRB Hall of Fame" (Press release). International Rugby Board. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  56. ^ "Dawson Inducted Into IRB Hall Of Fame" (Press release). Irish Rugby Football Union. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013. [dead link]
  57. ^ SFMS Limited. "Statsguru: Ireland player appearances records". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  58. ^ SFMS Limited (2 October 2011). "Stasguru Overall Points Record". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  59. ^ SFMS Limited. "Six Nations: Total Points Scored". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  60. ^ SFMS Limited. "Brian O'Driscoll Stats". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  61. ^ The Ireland Rugby Miscellany (2007): Ciaran Cronin
  62. ^ 1989 French Republic anniversary match
  63. ^ a b c d No demands made on Ashton to go, say IRFU Irish Examiner, 18 February 1998
  64. ^ "Les Kiss Takes over Ireland". Retrieved 2014-02-08. 

External links[edit]