Ireland Rugby World Cup

The Ireland rugby team are on an impressive winning streak. Photo: SABC Sport

Rugby World Cup 2023 Match Preview: Ireland v Scotland

Everything you need to know about Saturday’s crunch Pool B encounter between Ireland a d Scotland at Stade de France and how the result will impact the Springboks.

Ireland Rugby World Cup

The Ireland rugby team are on an impressive winning streak. Photo: SABC Sport

Pool B has already seen one of the great tension-filled, top-quality, high-stakes Rugby World Cup matches at Stade de France. 

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South Africa versus Ireland – world champions against the number one ranked side – was one for the ages. Two weeks later, at the same venue and with the stakes higher still, it is very possible the same pool could produce another. 

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has made two changes to his starting side, with Iain Henderson coming into the second row for James Ryan, and Dan Sheehan taking over at hooker from Ronan Kelleher. Flanker Peter O’Mahony will win his 100th Ireland cap.

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Scotland have picked themselves up after their opening round defeat to South Africa to record two bonus point wins in a row and give themselves a shot at the last eight. To get there, they have to beat Ireland – something they haven’t managed since 2017. 

Second-row Grant Gilchrist, scrum-half Ali Price and right-wing Darcy Graham retain their places in the starting XV after the 84-0 win over Romania, in Gregor Townsend squad, with captain Jamie Ritchie returning at blindside flanker. 

ALSO READ: Rassie Erasmus mocks Ireland’s Rugby World Cup record

FIXTURE: Ireland v Scotland

GROUND: Stade de France, Saint-Denis (80,023)

KICK-OFF: 21:00 local time (GMT+2)

ALSO READ: RUGBY WORLD CUP | Live scoring — Ireland v Scotland


This is one of the oldest international match-ups in rugby history. Ireland and Scotland have played one another 142 times since their first meeting in Belfast in 1877. 

Unfortunately for Scotland, who need to win this match, recent results have all gone Ireland’s way. Gregor Townsend has yet to record a victory over the Irish as the national team’s head coach.


Scotland’s last win over Ireland was in the 2017 Six Nations, a few months before Townsend took over. The closest they have come to victory since was at Murrayfield in the 2021 Championship, when Johnny Sexton broke Scottish hearts with a late penalty to give the visitors a 27-24 victory.


The qualification maths. Ignore bizarre conspiracy theories doing the rounds on social media – and focus on the sums, because they’re difficult enough. 

The simple bit to start: Ireland win and they top the pool, with South Africa also going through to the quarter-finals. 

But, if Scotland win, things start to get more complicated: Read all about the permutations here.

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Johnny Sexton v Finn Russell. What other in-match personal challenge could it be, really? Sexton will set a new record for most Ireland appearances against Scotland (16), moving clear of Brian O’Driscoll, Cian Healy, Ronan O’Gara and Rory Best. He is also Ireland’s leading points scorer against Scotland (138). The Scots’ magician Russell, meanwhile, has only been on a winning side against Ireland once in his career. What a time this would be to win his second.


When Ireland played Scotland in the 2023 Six Nations, the ball-in-play time was an astonishing 38 minutes. Heading into this final round of matches at the Rugby World Cup, only three games have had a higher figure: Scotland v Romania, at 39 minutes and 40 seconds, and Wales v Portugal, at 38 minutes and 21 seconds. Another match involving Wales, against Fiji, is next on the list at 37 minutes and 52 seconds. Will this one be as draining for the players?

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Nic Berry (Australia). According to the numbers, Berry is more than twice as likely to penalise the defending side than the attacking one. In his two matches in charge to date, he’s blown penalties against defences 27 times, compared to just 12 against the team in attack.


IRELAND — Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Johnny Sexton (captain), Jamison Gibson-Park, Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.
Subs: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, James Ryan, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, Stuart McCloskey.

SCOTLAND — Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie (captain), Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey.
Subs: Ewan Ashman, Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, Luke Crosbie, George Horne, Ollie Smith.



Rugby World Cup 2023 match schedule
Rugby World Cup 2023 match schedule. Source: rugbyworldcup