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2010-10-25 19:47

Captain: Brian O'Driscoll

Coach: Declan Kidney

RWC Appearances: 6 (First in 1987)

Best result: Quarter Finals, 1987, 1991, 1995, 2003

Ireland are one of the most inconsistent teams in Test rugby and, as a result, have often under-achieved at the World Cup in spite of the quality and pedigree in their ranks.

The Irish rugby team, which represents both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, have won the Six Nations and its predecessors, the Home Nations Championship and Five Nations Championship, a total of 19 times, but have never progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

Ireland's mediocre performances at the World Cup started at the first tournament in 1987. The Irish qualified for the for the quarter-finals, after losing 13-6 to Wales and beating Canada (46-19) and Tonga (32-9) in the group stages, but were defeated 33-15 by Australia in their quarter-final game.

The men from the Emerald Isles suffered a similar fate four years later when they were again eliminated in the quarter-finals. Ireland beat minnows Zimbabwe (55-11) and Japan (32-16) before losing to Scotland (24-15) in their last pool game, and were then defeated by Australia(19-18), who would go on to win the tournament, in the knock-out rounds.

The 1995 World Cup saw Ireland achieve the exact same tournament record for the third time - losing their first game, then winning the next two before being knocked out in the quarter-finals. The team lost 43-19 to New Zealand, triumphed over Japan 50-28, edged-out Wales 24-23 and were beaten 36-12 by France.

In 1999, Ireland again recorded two victories and one loss in the World Cup group stage, but a peculiar tournament structure meant that they didn't make it to the quarter-finals. The men in green thrashed the USA 53-8, lost to eventual winners Australia 23-3 and overcame Romania 44-14, but were subsequently defeated 28-24 by Argentina in a quarter-final play-off match.

Ireland had their most successful World Cup ever in 2003 - when an expanded tournament saw them grouped with four other teams. The side defeated Romania 45-17, overcame Namibia 64-7, beat Argentina 16-15 and were narrowly defeated by Australia 17-16 in the last game group game. The side then lost their quarter-final to France 43-21.

The 2007 World Cup saw Ireland hit a new low when they lost 50 percent of their games and were eliminated in the group stage. They beat Namibia 32-17 and overcame Georgia 14-10, but were defeated in their next two matches to eventual semi-finalists France and Argentina, losing the games 23-3 and 30-15 respectively.

The 2008 Six Nations Championship saw more mediocre form from the Irish, but in 2009, after the appointment of Declan Kidney as head coach, they claimed the Grandslam and Six Nations titles. The team went on to finish second the following year and third in 2011.

There are signs that Ireland's most experienced campaigners are reaching the end of the road, and the question arises as to whether there are enough quality replacements coming through the ranks to help Ireland compete at full force during the 2011 World Cup.


Forwards: Rory Best, Tony Buckley, Tom Court, Sean Cronin, Leo Cullen, Stephen Ferris, Jerry Flannery, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Denis Leamy, Sean O'Brien, Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell, Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, David Wallace.

Backs: Tommy Bowe, Isaac Boss, Gordon D'Arcy, Keith Earls, Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Geordan Murphy, Conor Murray, Brian O'Driscoll, Ronan O'Gara, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton, Andrew Trimble, Paddy Wallace.

Key Player

Brian O'Driscoll
Height: 1.78m
Weight: 95kgs

This colossus in rugby has more experience than any other Irish player, and has led his team through thick and thin without ever letting his own performance at centre deteriorate. O'Driscoll is a living legend.


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