Ireland finished third in this year’s Six Nations, however, turned things around in the Rugby
World Cup warm-ups by beating Wales twice to claim the number 1 ranking in the World
Rugby rankings. They have an impressive group of players and will be desperate to go
further than the quarter-finals which is their best ever result at a Rugby World Cup.
In their opening game, Ireland beat second seed Scotland 27-3 in a dominant performance.
Because of this result, Ireland should top their group barring any upset in their upcoming
games. Next up, Ireland will play against hosts Japan before going on to play Russia and
finally Samoa before the group stages end. Since these games are so close together, Ireland
will need to rotate the squad and keep players fresh, otherwise, they could be looking at an
Japan started their campaign off strong with a win against Russia with winger Kotaro
Matsushima helping himself to three tries. Russia are yet to win a match so far in this World
Cup after losing to both Japan and Samoa, therefore, Ireland will fancy their chances against
the Russians and could decide to rest some players.
If Ireland make it to the knockout stages, they will have to play either one of New Zealand or
South Africa in the quarter-finals. If Ireland top Group A, they’ll play the runner up in Group B
and since New Zealand beat South Africa, this will likely be South Africa. Both of these
teams will require a monumental performance to take any result away, but Joe Schmidt will
fancy his chances against the two southern hemisphere sides.
After the quarter-finals, Ireland could face any one of Australia, Wales or England in the
semi-finals depending on results. If they then beat one of those teams, they would make the
world cup final and could play anyone, but it’ll definitely be an incredibly tough match. If
Ireland are to win the world cup however, they must beat the best teams and a tough
quarter-final opponent will be one small step in achieving that goal