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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

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(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

RWC 2023 Pools confirmed.

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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

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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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6 Nations

Official. Eddie Jones signs new England Deal.

Official.

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England men’s head coach Eddie Jones and the RFU have agreed a contract extension which will see him continue his role until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
 
Jones joined England Rugby at the end of 2015 and has coached the men’s national side on 54 occasions winning 42, drawing one and losing 11 – giving him a win ratio of 78%, the highest in the history of England coaches.
 
Under Jones, England has won two Six Nations titles including a Grand Slam in 2016, a 3-0 away Test series win against Australia in the same year, an unbeaten run of 18 matches equalling New Zealand’s record and were finalists at last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan. 
 
Jones said: “The extension is a great honour for me, but in the current environment, it is only right to acknowledge what a difficult time the world is facing.  We are all looking forward to a time when we can get back to playing rugby and use the sport as a force for good in bringing people back together. I never thought coming here four years ago I would be doing a second four years but the circumstances are right. Obviously it is important for the team that we keep improving and my focus will be solely on that.
 
“I am excited about raising the standards again. We have a great team. We set out four years ago to be the best team in the world and unfortunately we missed that by 80 minutes. Now we want to be the team that is remembered as being the greatest team the game has ever seen. It’s a big ambition but I believe we are capable of doing it. We have players with an enhanced reputation, we have a team that is expected to do well, so it’s a great opportunity for us to keep moving forward.”
 
Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO said: “My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by COVID-19, both across the country at large but also within our own rugby union community. In exceptionally difficult times, we are pleased to be sharing some good news.  We are delighted that Eddie will continue as head coach to run England’s campaign to take us to the 2023 Rugby World Cup. His record since joining speaks for itself and he has proven why he is one of the best coaches in world rugby. The progress shown by England since 2015 has been indisputable and having fielded the youngest-ever team to play in a World Cup final, we know even more growth is possible. We are all excited by what this squad can do and having Eddie leading the team is very important to us. 
 
“We reached an understanding soon after returning from Japan but there were some things that we wanted to make sure worked for both sides. We have announced Eddie’s contract extension a few weeks later than planned as our focus was diverted to support the English rugby community during this difficult time, we are now turning our attention to developing plans to support the rebooting of rugby and a winning England team will provide a vital role in that.”
 
Ahead of the Guinness Six Nations Jones confirmed Simon Amor and Matt Proudfoot would join Steve Borthwick and John Mitchell as his assistant coaches. Jason Ryles will join later in the year as skills coach following Borthwick’s departure towards the end of the season.

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