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Ireland Change 11 for Russian Encounter

Ireland have made a total of 11 changes to their starting XV for their clash with Russia but two men are starting their third game in a row at the World Cup



(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has announced a total of 11 changes to his starting line-up for Thursday’s must-win clash with Russia at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Peter O’Mahony, Garry Ringrose, Keith Earls and Rob Kearney are the only survivors from Ireland’s shock 19-12 loss to Japan on Saturday, with the former two starting their third game in a row at the tournament in 11 days. 

However, O’Mahony only played a small part in Ireland’s opening round win over Scotland whereas Ringrose has played a key role in both games so far and it is a risk Schmidt is taking with fellow centres Robbie Henshaw and Chris Farrell forced to sit out this game. 

It means that there is an entirely new front-five for the Irish with Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan taking over from Cian Healy, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong respectively. While Tadhg Beirne and Jean Kleyn come into the second-row in what is an all-Munster front-five. 

O’Mahony’s inclusion sees him switch to the blindside-flanker position, with Rhys Ruddock on the openside and Jordi Murphy, who only arrived following an injury to Jack Conan, has been thrown straight in at No 8. 

It’s a Leinster half-back pairing as Luke McGrath opens at scrum-half with Johnny Sexton captaining the side in Best’s absence from fly-half. Bundee Aki returns to the starting XV after sitting out Saturday’s loss and links up with Ringrose once more. 

Earls starts on the right-wing, with Andrew Conway coming in on the right and Kearney completes the starting team from full-back. 

There is a vast amount of experience to call upon from the bench if needed with the likes of Sean Cronin, Iain Henderson and CJ Stander among the replacements. While there is also a noticeable selection in the the backs replacements as both Joey Carbery and Jack Carty picked, with Carbery covering the scrum-half position. 

Speaking ahead of the game captain Sexton, who did not feature during Saturday’s loss is determined to turn things around and believes that Ireland still have what it takes to win the whole competition. 

“At the start of the Six Nations we turned things around. We had a really good performance against France. Things went bad against England [at Twickenham in late August] – we turned it around and beat Wales back to back. So they’re a very good team and we beat them. We started with a bang last week against Scotland – so, yeah, if we can go on a bit of a run now, a five-game winning run would be great. That would do nicely,” he said. 

Ireland know a bonus-point win is required if they are to keep the pressure on Japan at the top of Pool A as they hope to finish as the group winners. However, Russia won’t make it easy for them as we have seen from their opening two games, and with a nine days turnaround between this and Ireland’s final pool fixture against Samoa the nation will be expecting the men in green to give their all. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

Rob Kearney, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Keith Earls, Johnny Sexton (c), Luke McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Peter O’Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne


Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Jordan Larmour


Ireland Climb in Latest World Rankings

Ireland have had the biggest boost in the latest World Rugby Rankings ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw later this year



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Ireland have leapfrogged Wales in the latest World Rugby Rankings of the the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw in November of this year.

The boys in green have taken over the No 4 spot in the rankings following their 24-14 win over Wales in the Six Nations over the weekend, with their opponents dropping down to fifth. 

It is a major boost for the Irish and gives them something to hold on to heading into the rest of this year’s fixtures as they are now currently in the top seeds ahead of the draw for the pool stages of France 2023. 

World Rugby announced recently that they will hold the draw later this year meaning that teams will have less time to climb the rankings than last time around when they had 18 months between the previous World Cup and the draw for the next one. 

A total of twelve teams will head into the draw as seeds in three brackets with the top four in the rankings being first seeds, meaning as of now Wales would be second seeds along with France, Australia and Japan. 

While Scotland, Argentina, Italy and Fiji are in the third bracket, with the remainder of the teams to be decided through different qualifiers over the next three years. 

Elsewhere in the rankings Georgia have moved up ahead of Italy, following the former’s latest two defeats in the Six Nations, while the biggest risers have been Portugal, who have moved from 22nd to 20th, but Russia have dived from 20th to 25th. 

Ireland will be hoping to continue their perfect start to the Six Nations campaign when they take on the third-ranked team England away from home, whom they may look to overtake in the rankings before the draw. 

It is certainly heating up between the Six Nations teams as they try to be the best-placed behind South Africa and New Zealand, who take the first and second spots, but won’t play until the summer.

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Rugby World Cup

World Rugby Confirm Timing of 2023 RWC Draw

World Rugby have confirmed when they will be hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw and it has put pressure on teams to get positive results this year



(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

World Rugby has announced that it will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw in November of this year.

The tournament will take place in France with the draw being held in Paris following the November internationals. 

That means that teams only have between now and then to better their current rankings and move into a different drawing band, whereas for the previous draw they had 18 months to improve. 

Speaking on the announcement World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont is excited to discover the fate of the teams and has put the pressure on teams to do well this year. 

“The pool draw is an important milestone on the road to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France as it really drives excitement and momentum both in the host nation and throughout the global rugby family – it is the moment teams and fans can start to plan. With the World Rugby rankings determining the bands for the RWC 2023 pool draw, it promises to be a fascinating year of men’s international rugby with every match counting towards seeding at the end of the November Test series,” he said. 

Twelve of the 20 participating teams from last year’s World Cup in Japan have automatically qualified, with the other eight to be decided in the qualifiers that will begin later this year. 

However, the twelve teams that are already involved will have to be at their best to move up a band in the current rankings or fear dropping down in which case they could get a harder draw. 

As of this moment the first band contains the World Cup semi-finalists from last year in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Wales, with the remaining quarter-finalists making up band two in Ireland, Australia, Japan and France. 

While in band three Scotland and Argentina are joined by Italy and Fiji. 

It will be a tough task for teams to improve their current standings with the Six Nations teams only having one edition of the tournament to improve compared to the two editions they had last time around, but it does add some extra competition to this year’s fixtures.

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Fans Player of the Decade Confirmed

World Rugby have announced the winner of their Fans Player of the Decade vote and there’s no surprise who’s won



(Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

Former All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter has been named World Rugby’s Fans Player of the Decade following their polls over the past couple of weeks.

The organisation narrowed the competition down to 16 players, as they split them into a last-16 style format, with backs on one side and forwards on the other. With two players going head-to-head in the polls to make it through to each respective round. 

Last week it was brought down to the final four, with all of them being New Zealand internationals as Carter was pitted up against Beauden Barrett, with Richie McCaw facing Kieran Read. 

McCaw and Carter were victorious and now Carter has come out as the overall winner as the best player over the past 10-years. 

It is not hard to see why fans have gone for the 112-cap All Black, who finished up his international career in 2015, having guided his country to historic back-to-back Rugby World Cup crowns. 

As well as that he holds the title for the most points scored at test-level rugby with an incredible 1598 to his name. 

On the international stage he was impressive, but he has been equally so at club-level, winning domestic crowns in both France with Racing 92 and in Japan with the Kobelco Steelers. 

The 37-year-old is still under contract with the Japanese outfit, but has been unable to play for them for the majority of the year, having suffered a major injury, which also prevented him from a brief return to Racing 92 for the latter-half of last season. 

However, he is poised to return to the playing field shortly and will be hoping to guide his team to further success and will have the aid of another All Black great joining him in the form of Brodie Retallick, who is linking up with the side for the season during his year sabbatical.  

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