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Irish Rugby — coming of age in 2018

With perfect timing, as Rugby World Cup 2019 approaches, Irish rugby had arguably its best ever year in 2018.

A year to remember

Ireland started the year with a rare Grand Slam and finished it with an even rarer win over the All Blacks. All in all, these made 2018 a year Irish rugby will never forget.

Memorable highlights for Irish rugby included:

  • clean sweep in the 2018 Six Nations Championship (beating France, Italy, Wales, Scotland and culminating in a tense showdown with England in the final match)
  • becoming the first team to beat England in 19 matches
  • Irish winger Jason Stockdale becoming the first player to score seven tries in a single Six Nations campaign
  • overturning the 2013 missed opportunity to finally beat the All-mighty-Blacks in Ireland in the autumn internationals
  • Irish club Leinster winning the European Champions Cup for a record fourth time (a record they share with French club Toulouse)

Close but no cigar, until now

To be clear, Ireland have in recent years been a clear Top 5 rugby nation. But it is only, as 2018 ends, that the Irish can lay claim to being considered the current best rugby team in the world.

Historically, Irish rugby has never gone past the quarterfinals in Rugby World Cup tournaments, a fact they hope to obliterate in Japan.

It had also, until recently, not beaten New Zealand in their history. The stirrings that that would change came in 2013, when they led with seconds left. But a heartbreaking steal by the All Blacks came in the final play of the game:

Joe Schmidt’s men finally sealed the deal in 2016, beating the All Blacks for the first time ever in Chicago. But that was on neutral soil.

And eventually, Ireland outplayed the All Blacks for the first time in Ireland in November 2018.

It meant not just lots of smiling Irish eyes and a huge surge in national pride but also the possible passing of the rugby torch.

Could next year surpass 2018 for the Irish? Will Schmidt finish his time with Ireland on a high in Yokohama?

We look forward to watching the possible rise and rise of Irish rugby.

11 Comments

  1. That’s is very good of them hope they will keep on doing  great up to the next year world cup it can only get better for them if they keep working hard and pushing on  I wish them all  the best in there  challenging   and exciting days ahead  if they keep working hard world cup is theirs to take home

  2. WOW – what a fantastic year for Irish Rugby! Thanks for laying down the year to remember which highlighted all the incredible victories, including the first team to beat England in 19 matches. Thanks also for sharing the video clip, that was awesome to see and view. I am sure Ireland is grinning with pride as this definitely was a year to remember. And like you said, can 2019 be even better? What do you think? Any personal predictions? 

  3. Hey, great article here on Irish rugby!! How good are the points that you have highlighted especially the first one!! Seeing Ireland win over the All blacks is great but even sweeter being an Aussie and seeing the All Blacks lose is a top bonus lol :))))))))

    Great article !!

    • Oi Oi Oi !!!  You obviously abide by the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

  4. Go, Ireland. The upcoming Six Nations will prove interesting: first match? England!

    • Yes, that should be a cracker. Got your tickets yet? They’re running out very fast, I hear.

        • Which network are you catching it on? I used to watch it on Foxtel. Now trying streaming on various online platforms. I’m gathering info on where people are commonly watching the various games; so if you have any suggestions, let me know.

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