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Sexton Becomes Ireland’s Oldest Player And Record World Cup Points Scorer

Sexton Becomes Ireland’s Oldest Player And Record World Cup Points Scorer

Jonathan Sexton runs in the first of his two tries during Ireland's opening Rugby World Cup victory over Romania ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell was delighted to have his captain back ‘firing on all cylinders’ as Jonathan Sexton made a record-breaking return in the green jersey.

Following a six-month absence due to injury and suspension, Sexton slotted back in seamlessly at out-half to guide Farrell’s men to an 82-8 bonus point triumph over Romania in their Rugby World Cup opener.

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The Dubliner was quickly up to speed, contributing 24 points (two tries and seven conversions) in a 66-minute run-out to equal David Humphreys’ Irish record for most points in a World Cup game.

Sexton is now Ireland’s all-time leading RWC points scorer with 102 points, surpassing the previous mark of Ronan O’Gara (93). He is also just 10 points away from taking the overall Irish points record away from former team-mate O’Gara.

John Hayes’ record as Ireland’s oldest men’s international player (37 years and 277 days) has stood since August 2011. That title passed on Saturday to Sexton who lined out against the Romanians at the ripe old age of 38 years and 58 days.


24 – David Humphreys (7 penalties and 1 drop goal) v Argentina, Lens, October 1999
24 – Jonathan Sexton (2 tries and 7 conversions) v Romania, Bordeaux, September 2023
23 – Ralph Keyes (4 conversions and 5 penalties) v Zimbabwe, Lansdowne Road, October 1991
20 – Keith Wood (4 tries) v USA, Lansdowne Road, October 1999
19 – Michael Kiernan (5 conversions, 2 penalties and 1 drop goal) v Canada, Dunedin, May 1987
18 – David Humphreys (3 conversions and 4 penalties) v Romania, Gosford, October 2003
18 – Jonathan Sexton (2 tries and 4 conversions) v Samoa, Fukuoka, October 2019

Acknowledging the achievements of his skipper on a sweltering day in Bordeaux, Farrell said: “I heard he broke a few records today. What was the record, Johnny? The oldest (Irish) player to play at the tournament, that’s the first one.

“And what was the other one, points scored? Points equalled, 24 points, puts him ten points behind the record for the most points scored for any Irish player. So, you would think, if selected, that he’d be able to get that record.

“But the most pleasing point for us was definitely 60-odd minutes under the belt and firing on all cylinders. Fit and healthy and ready to go for the rest of the competition.”

Sexton’s game management and distribution skills were central to Ireland’s strong start to their Pool B campaign. His ability to stay square, take on the defensive line and crisply put team-mates through gaps saw them build a big score.

The Grand Slam champions had the most metres made (1091), clean breaks (21), offloads (23) and gain-line success (67%) off all the teams across the opening round. Sexton finished off two close-range tries, moving him onto 17 in 114 appearances.


38 years and 58 days – Jonathan Sexton (v Romania, September 2023)
37 years and 277 days – John Hayes (v Scotland, August 2011)
37 years and 65 days – Rory Best (v New Zealand, October 2019)
36 years and 195 days – Mike Gibson (v Australia, June 1979)
36 years and 187 days – Mike Ross (v South Africa, June 2016)

After his 22nd victory in 26 games as Ireland captain, the man himself said: “Yeah, obviously delighted to be back. I didn’t expect conditions to be like that. It was incredibly hot, in the warm-up in particular.

“Delighted to get through some minutes, we got through some good stuff, but there’s lots to improve on, both individually and as a team.

“We know the challenge next Saturday (against Tonga) is going to be up a couple of levels. We’re very, very happy with five points, and a good points difference as well, which could matter at the end of the pool.”

This is Sexton’s fourth and final World Cup and there is unfinished business to take care of, following those disappointing quarter-final exits at the hands of Wales (2011), Argentina (2015) and three-time champions New Zealand (2019).

Ireland can take a step closer to next month’s knockout rounds by beating Tonga in Nantes. The Pacific Islanders have been able to assemble arguably their strongest ever squad, which includes former All Blacks Malakai Fekitoa, Charles Piutau, Vaea Fifita and George Moala.

Eager for more game-time, Sexton commented: “Hopefully I’m the better for it (today’s game) and I can improve my performance for Tonga. It’s going to be a much more difficult game, they’re obviously a different calibre of player.

“No disrespect to Romania, I thought they fronted up brilliantly and they were very physical but, you know, you see the team that Tonga have and we know their threat. They’ve had this weekend off and they’ll be just prepped for our game.

“They’ll have had two or three weeks to focus on our game, they’ve said that publicly. It’s going to be a huge challenge for us and we’re going to have to be ready. It’s a World Cup, it’s week on week, and we’ve got to be ready every week.”


102 – Jonathan Sexton (2011-2023)
93 – Ronan O’Gara (2003-2011)
70 – David Humphreys (1999-2003)
68 – Ralph Keyes (1991)
45 – Eric Elwood (1995-1999)