Johnny Sexton, Garry Ringrose, and Hugo Keenan are three of Ireland’s key backs at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Hosted by: France
Dates: September 8 to October 28
Coverage: Tune into BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra for full game commentary, and check out text updates on the Sport News Center’s app and website.
The moment has arrived: the Rugby World Cup is here, and the Irish squad enters the competition with strong odds to secure the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time ever.
It’s not a walk in the park, though. They share Pool B with formidable teams like South Africa and Scotland. And let’s not even talk about the possibility of facing New Zealand or France in the quarter-finals if they manage to advance that far.
But coach Andy Farrell’s team has a history of beating all these teams in recent years, thanks largely to their explosive backline.
We’ll dive into the forwards tomorrow, but for today, let’s meet the 15 Irish backs eager to make history on French soil.
Jamison Gibson-Park is Farrell’s go-to starting scrum-half. Formerly a Maori All Black, he transitioned to Leinster in 2017 and debuted for Ireland three years later. He’s been instrumental in Ireland’s ascent to the world’s top-ranking, particularly impressing against his home country, New Zealand.
Then there’s Conor Murray, the wise owl of scrum-halves. Though not in his prime, he remains an indispensable part of the team. Over 107 caps, he’s accumulated 105 points, often showing up in clutch moments—like his game-turning try against Samoa. He seems to save his best performances for when he dons the green.
Craig Casey is the third scrum-half pick, and with Murray and Gibson-Park inching into their 30s, he’s the future face of Irish rugby. Keep an eye out for him in matches against Romania and Tonga; he’s solid when called upon.
Johnny Sexton is Irish rugby incarnate. He’s been out of action since the Six Nations due to injury and a suspension, but make no mistake: his fire is far from extinguished. This will be his rugby swan song, and he aims to exit with fireworks. The guy is an Irish sporting deity.
Ross Byrne has the thankless job of stepping into Sexton’s giant boots for both club and country. But he’s no pushover; Byrne is reliable at the kicking tee and possesses a dependable set of mitts. He’s in close competition with Jack Crowley for the role of Sexton’s deputy.
Speaking of Jack Crowley, he’s the youthful prodigy tipped to be Sexton’s successor. Whether at centre or full-back, he shows his mettle. His last-minute drop goal against Leinster in the URC semi-finals showcased nerves of steel. He’s not just the future; he’s the now.
Garry Ringrose is the linchpin at centre, stepping in to fill the enormous shoes left by Brian O’Driscoll. With a knack for key scores, including vital tries against the French and All Blacks, he’s a player Ireland needs in top form.
Then there’s Robbie Henshaw, the multi-talented dynamo whose work ethic is as remarkable as his piano skills. He’s versatile, playing comfortably at both 12 and 13, and he can entertain with more than just rugby — he’s also a maestro with multiple musical instruments.
Bundee Aki, despite his iffy disciplinary record, is still a strong option at centre. He faces fierce competition for a starting spot but has the skills to make a significant impact.
Stuart McCloskey, aka the ‘Bangor Bulldozer,’ is more than just raw power. His finesse and offloading abilities have earned him a spot in Farrell’s plans, especially after a solid Six Nations outing earlier this year.
Keith Earls, the most recent to join Ireland’s 100-cap club, will be participating in his third World Cup. His versatility adds depth to the squad, and he’s a treasure trove of experience.
James Lowe shifted to Leinster in 2017 with aspirations for the Irish team, and boy, has he delivered. A constant threat with the ball, he has 10 tries in just 21 caps and a mean left boot that comes in handy.
Mack Hansen, the irrepressible personality on and off the pitch, made waves with Connacht and then Ireland. With seven tries in 16 caps, he knows how to find the end zone when it counts the most.
Hugo Keenan is a human dynamo at full-back, consistently performing under Farrell’s guidance. When Ireland shines, chances are Keenan is somewhere in the mix, pulling strings and making plays.
Jimmy O’Brien is the jack-of-all-trades in the squad. Whether at wing, full-back, or even centre, he brings a winning mentality nurtured during his time with Leinster.
So there you have it, the Irish backs gunning for glory in France. Don’t miss the chance to see them in action; these guys are not just playing rugby, they’re making history.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ireland Rugby World Cup 2023 Backs
Who are the key players in Ireland’s backline for the Rugby World Cup 2023?
The article focuses on 15 key players, including veterans like Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray, as well as rising stars like Jack Crowley and Mack Hansen.
When and where is the 2023 Rugby World Cup taking place?
The tournament is being hosted by France and runs from September 8 to October 28, 2023.
What teams are in Ireland’s Pool B for the tournament?
Ireland is in Pool B alongside South Africa and Scotland. The pool is quite competitive, making the path to the quarter-finals challenging for Ireland.
Who is expected to be Ireland’s quarter-final opponent if they advance?
If Ireland makes it to the quarter-finals, they are likely to face either New Zealand or France.
What coverage options are available for the tournament?
The BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra will provide full commentary of every game, and the Sport News Center website and app will offer text updates.
Who is the head coach of the Ireland rugby team?
The head coach of Ireland’s rugby team is Andy Farrell, who has been instrumental in the team’s recent successes.
What are the key positions in Ireland’s backline?
The article covers scrum-halves, fly-halves, centers, and outside backs, providing a comprehensive look at the backline.
Who are some of the newcomers to watch in Ireland’s squad?
Keep an eye on players like Mack Hansen and Jack Crowley, who are new to the international scene but have already shown significant promise.
Are there any players facing their last World Cup?
Johnny Sexton is heading into the World Cup after a groin injury and a suspension, and this tournament is expected to be his farewell to rugby.
How have injuries affected the Irish squad?
While there are concerns about Johnny Sexton’s recent groin injury, Robbie Henshaw is another player who has faced his share of injuries but remains a key asset to the team.
More about Ireland Rugby World Cup 2023 Backs
- Official Rugby World Cup 2023 Site
- Ireland Rugby Team Roster
- BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra
- Andy Farrell Coaching Career
- Player Profile: Johnny Sexton
- Player Profile: Conor Murray
- Ireland’s Six Nations 2023 Campaign Recap
- Sport News Center Coverage
- Ireland Rugby Recent Performances
- Robbie Henshaw’s Dual Talents: Rugby and Music