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Rugby World Cup

How Ireland Can Get At the All Blacks

Ireland are hoping to make it to a first ever Rugby World Cup semi-final but face the biggest rugby nation on the planet in New Zealand and here we take a look at a few ways the men in green can unsettle them



(Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

Ireland take on the mighty All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in Japan tomorrow as they look to reach a first semi-final in their history.

The task couldn’t be harder but this New Zealand side has its weaknesses and here we take a quick look what Ireland need to do to have any chance of winning. 

Firstly, Ireland need a strong start. As we saw in the Six Nations when the Irish hit the back-foot early on they seem to drop off in their performance. Along with the fact that Ireland seem to struggle with the final minutes of games at the tournament so far and need any sort of advantage to hold on to from an early stage. 

Sticking with timing, and Ireland need to be careful in the ten minute spell before half-time and the ten minutes after. The All Blacks seem to be at their best in that 20 minute section and they love to rack up the points, while deflating their opposition around this time. If Ireland can keep the scores to a minimum here they could unnerve their opponents heading into the final 30 minutes of the game. 

Another key is to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Ireland need to take any penalty opportunity and punish the All Blacks with either three-points from the tee or come away with a try from a kick to the corner. 

They must be clinical when they have any chance in the New Zealand 22-metre line if they are to cause an upset. 

As a team they need to defend with a huge amount of intensity, coming up in a line as a whole, not leaving any gaps as the All Blacks have the players to exploit any weakness. However, they need to be careful of the offside line as they must stay on the right side of referee Nigel Owens. 

In terms of players, Ireland may be wise to tactically kick to the back-three, while chasing up every kick from the boot. Although Beauden Barrett is an outstanding player, if Ireland can kick and chase to him, and force him to second-guess himself they could be on to something. 

The key for any victory is to help fly-half Johnny Sexton produce his best. That means allowing him quick-ball from the rucks, being available for quick one-twos and giving him protection from opposition tacklers. If he has a good game, Ireland have a good game, it’s as simple as that. 

Other key men to give the ball to are James Ryan, Tadhg Furlong and CJ Stander, who can all carry well while bringing in defenders and allowing space out wide. In turn that is going to help the likes of Jacob Stockdale, who could have the beating of Sevu Reece on his wing, if he is given the chance to show his talent. 

If Ireland are to progress they will need a full squad effort and with around 60 minutes on the clock the subs could be vital. The All Blacks scrum does not have the resources of the Irish one and if the starting front-row can cause issues for the All Blacks then the replacements could have a field day. 

Meanwhile Tadhg Beirne and Rhys Ruddock bring such intensity to the game especially at the breakdown, which could be an area to target in the closing stages as bodies tire. With that in mind Jordan Larmour could be key if the game is close near the end as he has been in sensational form so far in Japan and against some tiring New Zealand defenders, he could cause mayhem. 

Ireland will also need to stop players such as Ardie Savea and Codie Taylor breaking the line as they have pace and skill to tear open defences. While in terms of the All Blacks bench Ireland will need to watch out for Sonny Bill Williams, who will be fresh on the field near the end and is a game changer with his offloading and handling skills. 

Overall, Ireland need a near perfect performance to advance to new heights. We have seen them carve up two wins in their last three games against New Zealand but this is different. The World Cup is All Blacks territory and they will be up to the task of knocking out a team that threatens their three in a row ambitions. However, a team that were once invincible now show small signs of weakness, the question remains can Ireland exploit the chinks in their armour? 

Rugby World Cup

Women’s Rugby World Cup looks set to be postponed.



World Rugby has made the difficult decision to recommend the postponement of Rugby World Cup 2021, scheduled to be hosted in New Zealand between 18 September-16 October, until next year. The recommendation will be considered by the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee on 8 and 9 March respectively.Play Video

While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family.

The recommendation is based on the evolution of the uncertain and challenging global COVID-19 landscape. It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.  

The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand, and challenging global travel restrictions. 

World Rugby can assure teams, New Zealanders and the global rugby family that the recommendation to postpone the tournament will help to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2021 will be all it can be next year for players, fans and the rugby family – one of the great Rugby World Cups.

Further updates will be issued following the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee meetings next week.  

Statement Ends.

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Rugby World Cup

RWC 2023 Pools confirmed.




How the draw worked

As host nation, France was drawn first and placed randomly in one of the four pools. The teams were then drawn randomly from each band, starting with Band 5 (Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1, Final Qualifier Winner), then Band 4 (Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2), then Band 3 (Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy), then Band 2 (Ireland, (France), Australia, Japan) and finally Band 1 (South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales). The first drawn in each band was placed in Pool A, the second in Pool B, the third in Pool C and the fourth in Pool D.

Draw seedings

Twelve of the 20 teams qualified automatically by finishing in the top three places of their Rugby World Cup 2019 pool. These 12 teams are: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Australia, Japan, Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy. Acknowledging the global COVID-19 impact on international rugby in 2020, these teams were seeded based on the World Rugby Men’s Rankings as of 1 January, 2020 and placed into the first three bands of four teams.

The remaining eight teams will come through the regional qualification process and were allocated for the draw into bands four and five based on relative strength. They are: Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2, Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1 and the Final Qualifier Winner.

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Rugby World Cup

Qualification process set for Rugby World Cup 2023



Image from World Rugby
  • Process designed to promote regional strength and the best teams to rugby’s showcase event
  • 12 teams already qualified owing to top three pool placing at RWC 2019
  • RWC 2023 on track to be a spectacular celebration of rugby and France

World Rugby has announced details of the qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.

Following the most competitive and widely-acclaimed Rugby World Cup to date in Japan, the qualification process is designed to deliver the top teams in the world to rugby’s showcase tournament, while promoting a genuine opportunity for all unions.

With 12 teams having secured their place at France 2023 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools at RWC 2019, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers. The process will conclude with a four-team round-robin Final Qualification Tournament in November 2022 to determine the final qualifier.

The dates for events in 2021 will be announced in due course and will be subject to an anticipated easing of the COVID-19 situation.

The announcement follows consultation with unions and regions in January 2020 and a full review of performance at Rugby World Cup 2019, where rankings upsets and the impressive performances in particular of Japan, Fiji, Uruguay, Tonga and Georgia cut the performance gap, with the average winning margin between established and emerging unions decreasing in comparison with 2015 benchmarks.

The Americas will deliver two direct places, while Oceania will deliver a direct qualifier with a further direct place available following a play-off with Asia. The Rugby Europe Championship (two direct places), Rugby Africa Cup (one direct place) and Final Qualification Tournament (one direct place) will provide the other qualifiers. Further details are provided below.

RWC 2023 qualification principles

  • Americas: the Americas will qualify two teams by September 2022. The third best team in the region will enter the Final Qualification Tournament – Americas 1 & Americas 2
  • Europe: the existing Rugby Europe Championship will have two qualifying places, with the two best teams in March 2022 qualifying directly and the third placed entering the Final Qualification Tournament – Europe 1 & Europe 2 
  • Africa: the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 winner will qualify directly and the runner-up team will go to Final Qualification – Africa 1
  • Oceania: a home and away play-off between Tonga and Samoa in 2021 will determine the direct qualifier for the Oceania region. – Oceania 1
    The loser will then play the Oceania Rugby Cup 2021 winner in the highest ranked team’s country with the eventual winner contesting Asia / Pacific (see below) as Oceania 2
  • Asia / Pacific: the winner of the Asian Rugby Men’s Championship 2021 will play Oceania 2 home and away. The winner on aggregate will determine the qualifier and the loser will go to Final Qualification – Asia / Pacific 1
  • Final Qualification Tournament: the tournament in November 2022 will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format with the winner qualifying for RWC 2023 – Final Qualification winner

Teams already qualified: South Africa, England, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, France (host), Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina, Fiji

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “With the global pandemic having halted most rugby activity, confirmation of the global qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 provides a beacon of excitement for all, including players and fans.

“The process that has been developed via full consultation with our regional associations and member unions will provide a genuine opportunity for full member unions to qualify for our showcase men’s 15s event.

“Maximising existing regional competitions, the process is good for regions and unions in managing costs for organisers and participants alike, which is important as we all recover from the global pandemic.

“On behalf of World Rugby, I’d like to wish all teams involved the best of luck on their journey to France 2023.”

Rugby World Cup France 2023 CEO Claude Atcher added: “This qualification process gives emerging unions an opportunity to take part in our sport’s biggest competition.

“The success of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and performances by the host nation is a testimony of rugby’s expansion globally. As the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is about to be won, I welcome this optimistic prospect of reconnecting with the excitement of our sport. This is the start of our journey towards France 2023, which will be the best tournament ever delivered.”

Final details of the regional competition formats and dates will be announced in due course.

Official Press Release from World Rugby

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