It’s been an amazing decade in Irish rugby and there are some massive calls in making a team over the past ten years, but we have come to make our starting XV.
There have been three Six Nations triumphs, with a Grand Slam coming in 2018 and while the team could not make it past the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, they did manage to not only get a historic first win over the All Blacks, but followed it up with a second on home soil.
It’s incredible to think about how far the side has come, and as we head into a new decade and a new era under head coach Andy Farrell, here is a quick look back at the best XV for the last decade.
Full-Back: Rob Kearney
An easy decision! Kearney has been a mainstay in the Ireland set-up for pretty much the entire decade. He started the decade as a hard-running, powerful 15, and has adapted his game recently as age begins to show. At 33, he was left out of Ireland’s recent “stocktake” but don’t be surprised to see him add to his 95 international caps. His quality in the air is sensational and he still has a lot to offer.
Right-Wing: Tommy Bowe
He went into the decade on the back of helping Ireland to a historic Grand Slam in 2009 and carried through his fine form into the decade. Although injury hampered him Bowe managed to score an amazing 150-points in just 69 appearances for the men in green. His biggest moments might have come before the start of the decade, but nobody can really rival him for the number 14 jersey over the past 10 years.
Outside-Centre: Brian O’Driscoll
Seen by many as Ireland’s greatest player ever and by some as the greatest player to have play the game making it impossible to leave him out of the team. He may have lost some of his speed around the pitch in his later years, but he always seemed to put in a performance when in the Irish jersey. His in-game intelligence and leadership on the pitch saw him help Ireland to their 2014 Six Nations win and cement his legacy as the best around.
Inside-Centre: Gordon D’Arcy
Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki were close contenders, but O’Driscoll’s centre partner gets the nod as he just made Ireland click. His defensive abilities along with the spark he had in attack made him one of the best in his position.
Left-Wing: Keith Earls
The Munster man has gone on to become one of Ireland’s mainstays since his debut in 2008, racking up 82-caps and scoring 30 tries in that time. Some may put in Jacob Stockdale ahead of him, but Earls’ consistency in the 10-years gets him a spot in our team.
Out-Half: Johnny Sexton
The only man that could be named here, Sexton has been incredible throughout the decade and was recognised by winning World Rugby Player of the Year in 2018. His importance to the team has been there for all to see when he has been absent in the line-up and could be named as captain by Farrell as we head into the Six Nations as he is what makes Ireland tick.
Scrum-Half: Conor Murray
Having made his debut in 2011 Murray has been the first-choice No 9 ever-since and has come up with some vital tries over that time as well as stepping in as a place-kicker upon occasion. He hasn’t been in top form recently and could lose his starting spot heading into the next decade, but during the 10’s he was No 1.
Loosehead Prop: Cian Healy
Arguably the best in his position worldwide at times in the past 10-years, Healy’s physicality and ability on the ball has seen him dominate in open and set-play. He has rebuilt himself following serious injuries and has fought back to become Ireland’s first-choice once again and at 32 he could still have a big part to play in the foreseeable future.
Hooker: Rory Best
With 124-caps to his name Best has been ever-present this century before calling time on his rugby career earlier this year. He captained the side upon many occasions and was the ultimate leader and gentleman both on and off the pitch. He was asked to continue playing at club-level by many clubs, but decided he had done his fair share and who could argue with the Irish great.
Tighthead Prop: Tadhg Furlong
Despite not being in the team for a large part of the decade, since he has been in the Irish fold he has been incredible. His handling skills for such a big man are just amazing and he has gone on to become arguably the best tighthead in the world. With 41-caps to his name already, there is no doubt that Furlong will ease past the 50-cap make soon enough and at 27, who knows how far he can go if he stays at the top of his game.
Lock: Devin Toner
It was a toss-up between Toner and James Ryan, but for this decade Toner gets into our team. Ryan has been immense since his arrival on the international scene and nailed on to become a future Irish captain, but Toner has been crucial to Ireland for large parts of the decade. His importance to the team was there for all to see during the World Cup when he wasn’t selected, but he has since gone on to be recalled following some brilliant performances for Leinster.
Lock: Paul O’Connell
The ultimate leader! Despite retiring in 2015 O’Connell just has to be in this team as he was crucial to helping Ireland become the dominant force they are today. Deserved a better send off than he got after being forced to retire due to injury, but will always go down as one of the greats.
Blindside-Flanker: Peter O’Mahony
Ever-present in the Irish set-up since his debut in 2012 and a contender for the captaincy under Farrell. He has already captained his country as well as Munster and the British and Irish Lions and is one of the best defensive players in the game. A constant threat at the breakdown, O’Mahony will hope to add to his 64-caps to date come the new year.
Openside-Flanker: Sean O’Brien
One of the most destructive players the game has ever seen, but was simply unfortunate with injury which meant he was unable to cement a place as an Irish legend, but he deserves a place in this team. When he wasn’t injured O’Brien could beat even the best and showed that during the 2017 Lions Tour.
Number 8: Jamie Heaslip
CJ Stander has a case to be included, but Heaslip gets in ahead of him due to his sheer brilliance while in the squad. He was able in both attack and defence and a fan favourite, making 95 appearances for the Irish team. He was a forward that had a spark to him that made him stand-out and would walk into most teams when in top-form.
Ireland To Take On US Eagles In Las Vegas
Ireland will take on the US Eagles at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Saturday 30th October 2021. The fixture is in addition to Ireland’s regular November Series of Test matches at the Aviva Stadium in November.
“It’s thrilling to host an international rugby event of this calibre in Las Vegas, and we can’t wait to welcome the teams and their fans to the Sports Capital of the World,” said Steve Hill, LVCVA CEO and president. “Nothing can match the energy and excitement of game day in Las Vegas.
We’re confident the teams and their fans will find the only-in-Vegas experiences they’ve come to expect, from incredible entertainment and dining to outstanding attractions and outdoor adventure.”
“Following an eventful summer, this fixture is exactly the growth we’re excited to see for our Men’s Eagles, with meaningful test matches at home against top nations,” said Ross Young, CEO of USA Rugby. “Allegiant Stadium is a first-class fan experience, and we’re thrilled to partner on this venue’s first-ever rugby match.”
“Matching up with Ireland for a second time this year, particularly on home soil, gives us a lot to look forward to,” said Gary Gold, USA Men’s Head Coach. “Las Vegas has always put a spotlight on rugby, where we’re excited to follow our Rugby World Cup qualification fixtures on such a big stage.”
The game against the US Eagles on 30th October will be the first ever rugby international fixture to be held at the Allegiant Stadium which is the home of NFL franchise the Las Vegas Raiders.
Andy Farrell, Ireland Head Coach, commented: “Over the past few years we have had some incredible experiences playing in the US. We had two very memorable trips to Chicago which included beating the All Blacks at Soldier Field for the first time in our history and our last fixture against the Eagles in New Jersey was another fantastic rugby experience. We are looking forward to the game in October and to reconnecting with Irish Rugby fans in the US.”
James Ryan, who made his international debut against the US Eagles in New Jersey in 2017 and is Ireland captain for the forthcoming July tests, said: “Anytime we have played in the US we have had tremendous support either travelling from Ireland or Irish Rugby fans based in America.
We have been lucky to experience some great cities and stadia on our recent trips across the Atlantic but Las Vegas will be special and to be the first rugby game to be played at the Allegiant Stadium will just make it an even bigger occasion for players and fans alike.”
Ticket pre-sale starts at 10 AM on Tuesday, June 22 with public on-sale starting at 10 AM PDT on Friday, June 25.
Tickets start from $70 + fees and taxes.
Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/17005ACF1BD06533
Tuesday June 22
Las Vegas Raiders PSL Owners
Wednesday June 23 – Thursday June 24
USA Rugby Members & Partner
Irish Rugby Football Union Members & Partners
Allegiant Stadium Partners
MGM Resorts MLife Rewards Members
Las Vegas Convention & Visitor Authority Partner Network
Friday June 25
General public on sale
IRELAND RECENT FIXTURES IN THE UNITED STATES
USA 12 Ireland 15 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, June 2013
Ireland 40 New Zealand 29 – Soldier Field, Chicago, November 2016
USA 19 Ireland 55 – Red Bull Arena, New Jersey, June 2017
Ireland 54 Italy 7 – Soldier Field, Chicago, November 2018
Source – Irish Rugby
Irish Rugby Ready to Welcome Supporters Back to the Aviva Stadium
Capacity at the Aviva for the Vodafone Summer Series will be limited to up to 3,000 (5.8% capacity) supporters for the game against Japan on the 3rd July and 6,000 (12% capacity) supporters for the USA fixture on the 10thJuly.
In recognition of their contribution to society the IRFU will allocate 300 tickets for the Japan Game to front line workers, while all clubs will be represented by club Presidents, who will be invited guests of IRFU President, Des Kavanagh.
For the USA game an allocation of circa 25% of the reduced capacity will go to rugby clubs via their branch ticket office. Any tickets not taken up by clubs will be reallocated by the branch ticket office. All tickets are priced at €40 for both games
As these are pilot events, the remaining tickets will be allocated, in reduced numbers to players’ partners and family members, long term ticketholders and IRFU sponsors and media partners.
In line with government guidelines supporter safety is a key focus of these reopening pilots. All attendees will be required to adhere to strict COVID safety protocols in order to ensure the success of these events.
Philip Browne, IRFU Chief Executive, commented, “Firstly I would like to thank the government for their approval of these two international rugby fixtures as pilot events. It has been a long time since the Ireland team have played in front of live albeit limited support, at the Aviva Stadium.
These games are initial positive steps on the journey back to hopefully full stadia across the Island. The numbers are small, but I am sure spectators will make themselves heard in cheering on the team. We look to deliver two successful safe events, as our part in the government approved sporting and cultural pilots in the months ahead.
We hope that this programme, if successful will put us all in a strong position to welcome back larger numbers of fans to the Aviva Stadium in the Autumn when we will have three international rugby fixtures including games against New Zealand and Argentina.”
Both July games will be televised live on RTE (ROI) and Channel 4 (NI).
The matches remain subject to ongoing government approval.
Spectator Safety COVID Protocols
To help protect you and your fellow supporters, we ask that you comply fully with the following protocols in relation to COVID spectator safety while attending matches at the Aviva Stadium.
The following COVID protocols are in addition to the normal stadium regulations that operate for all major sporting events at the Aviva Stadium. (see below).
Entry to the stadium constitutes your acceptance of the Spectator Safety COVID Protocols and any breach, in line with Stadium Regulations, may result in ejection from the stadium.
- Download your e-ticket to your phone for contactless entry to stadium.
- It is requested that you download and install the HSE COVID-19 Contact Tracing App.
- Make note of your Stadium entry point in advance and arrive at the advised time.
- Supporters must remain in their assigned seats apart from when using amenities.
- Face coverings must be worn at all times, except when eating or drinking, unless you are under 13.
- Maintain good hand hygiene by availing of hand sanitiser dispensers provided throughout the Stadium.
- Tickets are not transferrable and must be used by the person named on the e-ticket.
In Advance of the Game:
- Do not attend if you are experiencing COVID symptoms or are a close contact of a suspected case .
- It is your responsibility to personally assess your ability to attend if considered a vulnerable person .
- Ensure those attending the match with you have read and understood these guidelines
At the Game:
- Please follow the directions of the stewards and any signage provided.
- Please observe physical distancing at all times and in all parts of the grounds.
- Please proceed to your allocated seating and remain there until exiting unless using amenities .
- Avoid contact with others who are not in your social bubble.
- When moving past others in a seated area, please avoid face to face contact with other spectators.
- If you feel ill, please contact your closest steward for assistance.
Other Points to Note:
- Contact information provided at ticket purchase and seat allocation will be kept for up to 28 days to facilitate contact tracing.
- A free digital programme will be available to download for each game from irishrugby.ie .
- You are advised to bring your own refreshments, as limited refreshment concessions will be in operation for these games, but no alcohol will be on sale.
Please follow all HSE COVID-19 health guidelines
A full list of Spectator Safety COVID Protocols for the Vodafone Summer Series matches will be available on www.irishrugby.ie.
Ireland Vodafone Summer Series 2021 Fixtures
Ireland v Japan
Saturday 3rd July, 2021
Ireland v USA
Saturday 10th July, 2021
Source Irish Rugby
Ireland Squad Confirmed For Vodafone Summer Series
The match against Japan on Saturday 3rd July will kick off at 1.00pm and the fixture against the USA on Saturday 10th July will kick off at 7.15pm.
Both fixtures are part of the government’s outdoor pilot sport event programme which will see limited supporters back in the Aviva Stadium.
James Ryan will captain the squad during the Vodafone Summer Series and there are 11 uncapped players named – Robert Baloucoune, Tom O’Toole, Nick Timoney (Ulster), Caolin Blade, Tom Daly, Paul Boyle (Connacht), Harry Byrne, Peter Dooley, Ross Molony (Leinster), Gavin Coombes, Fineen Wycherley (Munster).
Andy Farrell, Ireland head coach, said, “We now have two games at home to focus on which will be a good challenge for the group. Japan played the Sunwolves at the weekend and will play the Lions the week before we play at the Aviva Stadium and we know the quality of their squad from the World Cup.
We will assemble as a squad on the 22nd June and begin our preparations for the two games.
I know the players will come in eager to make the most of this opportunity to pull on the green jersey and play in front of supporters for at the Aviva Stadium for the first time in 18 months. Johnny (Sexton), Cian (Healy) and Keith (Earls) will not be involved in this window as we grow the experience of other players. It will be a great opportunity to see can this group perform at this level.”
Both games will be broadcast live by RTE (ROI) and Channel 4 (NI).
Ireland Squad – Vodafone Summer Series
Will Addison (Ulster/Enniskillen) 4 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) uncapped
Caolin Blade (Connacht/Galwegians) uncapped
Billy Burns (Ulster) 6 caps
Harry Byrne (Leinster/Lansdowne) uncapped
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 22 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 1 cap
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 24 caps
Shane Daly (Munster/Cork Constitution) 1 cap
Tom Daly (Connacht/Lansdowne) uncapped
Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 14 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 9 caps
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 11 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 29 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 4 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 34 caps
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 34 caps
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 3 caps
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 14 caps
Paul Boyle (Connacht/Lansdowne) uncapped
Ed Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 4 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) uncapped
Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 18 caps
Peter Dooley (Leinster/Lansdowne) uncapped
Caelan Doris (Leinster/UCD) 7 caps
Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 5 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 21 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 11 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 43 caps
Ross Molony (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 75 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) uncapped
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 35 caps
John Ryan (Munster/Cork Constitution) 23 caps
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) uncapped
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 31 caps
Fineen Wycherley (Munster/Young Munster) uncapped
Selected for British & Irish Lions Tour:
Bundee Aki, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Robbie Henshaw, Conor Murray, Andrew Porter (inj)
IRELAND v Japan
Saturday 3rd July, 2021
Broadcaster: RTE & Channel 4
IRELAND v USA
Saturday 10th July, 2021
Broadcaster: RTE & Channel 4
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