Jump to main content


Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Ireland v Italy – RWC Stat Attack

Ireland v Italy – RWC Stat Attack

We take a look at some of the key facts and figures ahead of Ireland’s third Rugby World Cup Pool D game against Italy at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 4.45pm).


– Ireland and Italy have played each other a total of 24 times – all since 1988 – with the Irish winning 20 of those games. Ireland have lost just once since the turn of the millennium, a shock 22-15 defeat in Rome in the 2013 Six Nations. Thirteen players in both matchday squads for Sunday’s Pool D clash featured in that game

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

– Their only previous RWC meeting was also a pool match in the last tournament, on October 2, 2011 at Dunedin. Ireland ran out 36-6 winners, with Ronan O’Gara contributing 16 points from out-half before being replaced by current number 10 Jonathan Sexton, who scored five

– The Irish starting line-up that day featured 11 players who are likely to play in this clash. O’Gara, Brian O’Driscoll and Stephen Ferris have all retired from playing rugby, while Donncha O’Callaghan recently agreed a move from Munster to Worcester Warriors

– Despite only facing off once at a RWC, there is plenty of tournament history between these sides due to the Six Nations. Ireland’s record is vastly superior, winning 15 of the 16 encounters with a net points tally of 310

– Ireland’s biggest Six Nations win over Italy was on March 8, 2014 at the Aviva Stadium. Brian O’Driscoll surpassed George Gregan’s record of international caps by gaining his 140th, including eight for the Lions. Ireland won 46-7, the biggest margin of victory in the tournament, which they won on points difference over England

– Ireland have played Italy four times in the Six Nations in RWC years, in 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2015. All the matches were played in Rome, and Ireland won all of them, three by over 20 points

– Ireland have played all the Six Nations teams at World Cups except England, but their record is comparatively poor. Although they have a 57% win ratio in previous RWCs overall, against fellow Six Nations teams that drops to 29%. Indeed, Italy and Wales are the only Six Nations teams Ireland have managed to beat at a RWC

– Italy have a 38% win ratio at previous RWCs, but their record on the biggest stage against fellow Six Nations teams is even worse than Ireland’s. They have faced England three times, and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland once each, and never won

– Italy have only beaten a current tier 1 nation once at a RWC, defeating Argentina 31-25 in East London, South Africa, in 1995


– Ireland are currently ranked fourth in the World Rugby rankings

– Ireland have named a starting line-up with 703 caps, their most experienced of RWC 2015 to date

– Captain Paul O’Connell returns to lead the side after being a replacement against Romania, which accounts for a significant proportion of this. There are a further 275 caps’ worth of international experience on the bench

– The average age of the side is 28 years and 277 days, younger than both the teams so far selected at RWC 2015

Keith Earls (pictured above) needs one try to become Ireland’s outright top try scorer in RWCs, having equalled Brian O’Driscoll’s record of seven against Romania

Tommy Bowe makes his 70th Test appearance, including five caps for the British & Irish Lions. Bowe is now second on the list of Ireland’s all-time top try scorers, but needs 16 more to catch Brian O’Driscoll

– The Irish back row trio play together for the 13th time in Test matches, which is only two off the record Irish back row combinations: Stephen Ferris, David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip, and Simon Easterby, David Wallace and Denis Leamy

– The Irish back row is the same that played against Italy in 2013 in the Six Nations, when Italy recorded their first Six Nations win over Ireland

Jamie Heaslip (pictured below) and his opposite number Sergio Parisse are the two most-capped number 8s by starting Tests in history


– Italy are currently ranked 14th in the World Rugby rankings

– Sergio Parisse returns. Parisse will become the player with the most RWC matches for Italy as captain (5), moving one ahead of Alessandro Troncon (4). Parisse will also match Troncon’s achievement of captaining Italy in two different RWCs (2003 and 2007)

– Parisse will become the sixth Italy player to appear in four RWCs, and will make his 111th start for Italy. Only four other players have started more Tests – Brian O’Driscoll, IRE/B&IL (140), Richie McCaw, NZL (138), George Gregan, AUS (133) and Victor Matfield, SA (120)

– Italy have won three of the last four Tests when Sergio Parisse and Simone Favaro, who is recalled, started together in the back row, a sequence that started with Italy’s first Six Nations win over Ireland (22-15) in Rome in 2013

– Italy full-back Luke McLean will equal the Italy record (41) for starts at full-back, set by Italian team manager Luigi Troiani, who played his last Test for Italy at RWC 1995