Who are the oldest and youngest members of the Ireland Rugby World Cup squad? Who is getting ready for his fourth World Cup and can you master our nicknames quiz? Read on for our stats piece on Joe Schmidt’s 31-man panel.
OLDEST AND YOUNGEST:
As well as captaining Ireland, Paul O’Connell is the ‘elder statesman’ of the Rugby World Cup squad. He will turn 36 during the knockout stages of the tournament, while Robbie Henshaw is the youngest Irish squad member at 22. He is seven months younger than new cap Tadhg Furlong.
Ireland’s Elder Statesmen –
35: Paul O’Connell – born October 20, 1979
35: Mike Ross – born December 21, 1979
34: Eoin Reddan – born November 20, 1980
33: Nathan White – born September 4, 1981
33: Rory Best – born August 15, 1982
Ireland’s Young Guns –
22: Robbie Henshaw – born June 12, 1993
22: Tadhg Furlong – born November 14, 1992
23: Iain Henderson – born February 21, 1992
23: Paddy Jackson – born January 5, 1992
24: Jordi Murphy – born April 22, 1991
BROTHERS IN ARMS:
Three sets of brothers have played at a Rugby World Cup for Ireland, and Rob and Dave Kearney from the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth are set to become the fourth in the coming weeks.
Richard & Paul Wallace – 1995 RWC
Simon & Guy Easterby – 2003 RWC
Simon & Rory Best – 2007 RWC
Rob & Dave Kearney – 2015 RWC
BANK ON EXPERIENCE:
It will be Rugby World Cup number 4 for Paul O’Connell at England 2015. He is the only survivor, in the current Ireland squad, from the 2003 tournament in Australia, while O’Connell, Rory Best and Eoin Reddan all played at France 2007.
3 – Paul O’Connell (2003, 2007, 2011)
2 – Rory Best (2007, 2011), Eoin Reddan (2007, 2011)
1 – Tommy Bowe (2011), Sean Cronin (2011), Keith Earls (2011), Cian Healy (2011), Jamie Heaslip (2011), Rob Kearney (2011), Conor Murray (2011), Sean O’Brien (2011), Mike Ross (2011), Donnacha Ryan (2011), Jonathan Sexton (2011)
FROM U-20 GRAND SLAM TO RUGBY WORLD CUP:
Four members of the Ireland Under-20 Six Nations Grand Slam-winning team from 2007 have been selected to represent Ireland at England 2015. They are Cian Healy, Sean O’Brien, Darren Cave (pictured below) and Keith Earls. Luke Fitzgerald was in the initial Ireland U-20 squad eight years ago but had to withdraw due to a neck injury.
UNDER-20S MAKING THE SENIOR GRADE:
It was a memorable night at Dubarry Park when Ian Madigan’s injury-time penalty sealed a 9-6 Six Nations win over France back in February 2009. Notably, five of Ireland’s 2015 RWC squad were playing in Athlone that night – Madigan at full-back, Dave Kearney on the right wing, Conor Murray at scrum half, loosehead prop Jack McGrath and number 8 and captain Peter O’Mahony.
That quintet have gone on to win Championship honours at senior level, and have amassed 115 Ireland senior caps between them so far. Murray is top of the pile currently with 36 appearances.
Of the even younger World Cup-bound crop, the 22-year-old Tadhg Furlong, Paddy Jackson and Iain Henderson (both 23) had two seasons each at the Under-20 grade, making 12, 14 and 20 appearances respectively. Either side of his Ireland Wolfhounds and senior debuts, Robbie Henshaw (22) won his one and only Ireland U-20 cap in his native Athlone against England in February 2013.
Ireland U-20 Caps – Iain Henderson (20), Dave Kearney (17), Paddy Jackson (14), Ian Madigan (14), Jordi Murphy (13), Tadhg Furlong (12), Jack McGrath (9), Simon Zebo (9), Conor Murray (8), Peter O’Mahony (8), Robbie Henshaw (1)
CLUBS, COUNTIES AND PROVINCES:
The four proud provinces, 14 counties and 18 clubs are represented in Ireland’s 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.
There are six Dubliners in the mix, closely followed by five players from Limerick, while Monaghan, Down, Westmeath, Antrim, Louth, Cork, Armagh, Kildare, Wexford, Carlow, Tipperary and Meath also have local men involved.
The spread of provinces and clubs are:
St. Mary’s College 3
Young Munster 2
Blackrock College 2
Belfast Harlequins 2
Cork Constitution 2
WHAT’S IN A (NICK)NAME:
Can you match the following nicknames to the players below?:
Nugget – Psycho – Llama – Chad – Dreamboat – Jim – Hightower – Uncle J – Harvey – The Rat
TRY, TRY AND TRY AGAIN:
It is always fun to attempt to predict the top try scorer at a Rugby World Cup, and Ireland have some players who are either in very good scoring form ahead of the tournament or know their way to the whitewash at a World Cup:
Simon Zebo – 5 tries in his last 10 Tests
Keith Earls – 5 tries in five RWC 2011 Tests
Chris Henry – 3 tries in his last 8 Tests
Tommy Bowe – 2 tries in four RWC 2011 Tests; overall figure of 28 in 62 games
Sean O’Brien – 2 tries in his last 3 Tests
Darren Cave – 2 tries in his last 5 Tests
DID YOU KNOW?:
– Tommy Bowe has a saxophone-playing past and used to perform ‘The Pink Panther’ theme tune. He quipped: “It’s been a long time since I played but that could be my party piece. If people have been drinking, hopefully they’ll be able to tell it’s ‘The Pink Panther’!”
– Tadhg Furlong cites the game-time he got with Clontarf in the Ulster Bank League as being crucial in bringing him on as a prop. “Playing in the AIL was a huge part of my development and is vital for any academy player, but perhaps especially a prop. I remember one day playing against Marcus Horan, and surviving that gave me more confidence,” he said
– Sidelined with a long-term foot injury, Donnacha Ryan’s recovery to win a place in the World Cup squad is hugely inspiring. As well as patiently working his way back to full fitness, he took up geology. “All you can do is focus on what you can control. What I did was focus on what I could in a sense, kept training as much as I could, starting again from being able to walk and then from an academic point of view, to go back and study geology, met with a mentor; I got some work experience, that was fantastic, just to get direction,” he said
IRELAND’S RUGBY WORLD CUP RECORDS:
It is a well known fact that Ireland have never gone beyond the quarter-final stage at a Rugby World Cup. But who excelled individually for the men in green between the 1987 and 2011 competitions?
MOST RWC APPEARANCES FOR IRELAND –
17 Brian O’Driscoll (1999-2011)
14 Ronan O’Gara (2003-2011)
13 Paul O’Connell (2003-2011)
11 Brendan Mullin (1987-1995)
11 Donncha O’Callaghan (2003-2011)
11 Malcolm O’Kelly (1999-2007)
RWC Record: 22 Jason Leonard (England) (1991-2003)
MOST RWC POINTS FOR IRELAND –
93 Ronan O’Gara (2003-2011)
70 David Humphreys (1999-2003)
68 Ralph Keyes (1991)
45 Eric Elwood (1995-1999)
41 Brian O’Driscoll (1999-2011)
RWC Record: 277 Jonny Wilkinson (England) (1999-2007)
MOST RWC TRIES FOR IRELAND –
7 Brian O’Driscoll (1999-2011)
5 Keith Earls (2011)
5 Keith Wood (1999-2003)
4 Hugo MacNeill (1987)
4 Brian Robinson (1991)
RWC Record: 15 Jonah Lomu (New Zealand) (1995-1999)