Rugby World Cup

PREVIEW: Everything you need to know ahead of Ireland vs Scotland #RWC2019

Ireland take on Scotland in the World Cup opener on Sunday morning

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PREVIEW: Everything you need to know ahead of Ireland vs Scotland #RWC2019

PREVIEW: Everything you need to know ahead of Ireland vs Scotland #RWC2019

Our Rugby World Cup 2019 coverage is in association with Caragh Nurseries

Ireland face a tough opening test at the Rugby World Cup on Sunday, September 22 (8.45am Irish time) against familiar opponents Scotland

Head-to-head

Only one of the 20 teams at RWC 2019 has never lost a World Cup match against any of their forthcoming pool opponents. Scotland have won all previous seven encounters with their Pool A opponents. All other teams have suffered at least one World Cup defeat against their four Pool opponents combined.

Ireland lost their only previous World Cup encounter with Scotland. On 12 October 1991, Scotland emerged victorious 24-15 at Murrayfield. A try was still worth four points and Gavin Hastings scored 13 points for the hosts. Ralph Keyes posted all 15 points for Ireland.

This will be the 136th test match between Ireland and Scotland, Ireland have won 63, Scotland 67 with five draws. Scotland have only faced England more often (137 times). For Ireland, it is the most common fixture, as they have squared off against England on 135 occasions.

Since 1 January, 2000, these teams have met 24 times, with Ireland winning 18 of those and Scotland winning six. Five of those six Scotland victories took place at Murrayfield, and the other came at Croke Park.

On 9 February of this year, they met at Murrayfield in the Six Nations Championship, with the visitors winning 22-13.

Rory Best will be facing Scotland for the 15th time in test matches, equalling the Ireland record shared by Brian O'Driscoll and Ronan O'Gara.

Focus on Ireland

Ireland are ranked No.1 in the World Rugby rankings, a position they have occupied from earlier this month and will hold until the start of the tournament.

Ireland have participated in all eight previous World Cups and made it past the pool phase in seven of the eight. Only in 2007 did they fail to reach the knockout stages.

Ireland were eliminated in the quarter-finals at six of the previous eight World Cups and failed to survive a play-off to reach the quarter-finals in 1999.

Ireland is the only country in World Cup history to reach the quarter-finals more than three times and never make it to the semi-finals.

Ireland have won each of their last five World Cup openers, after losing two of their first three. They lost their opening match in 1987 and 1995.

Only four players in the match-day squad (Iain Henderson, Conor Murray, Cian Healy, Rory Best) were in the match-day 23 against Argentina four years ago, Ireland's last Rugby World Cup match.

Rory Best will captain Ireland for the 35th time. Only Brian O'Driscoll (83) and Keith Wood (36) have captained the team in more test matches.

Since the beginning of 2017, Cian Healy, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong are the most common starting front row of the 20 World Cup participants. On Sunday, they will start together for the 14th time.

Focus on Scotland

Scotland are ranked seventh in the World Rugby rankings.

Scotland have appeared in all eight previous Rugby World Cups.

Scotland's best showing at a RWC is their fourth-place finish in 1991, in a World Cup they helped host.

In six of their previous eight World Cup participations, Scotland were eliminated in the quarter-finals, including at RWC 2015.

Only once, in 2011, have Scotland failed to successfully negotiate the pool phase as they came third behind England and Argentina.

Scotland's track record in World Cup openers is W6, D1, L1. Scotland drew their first-ever match at a World Cup, against France in 1987.

Seven players who started in Scotland's quarter-final defeat against Australia at RWC 2015 will also start against Ireland.

John Barclay returns for Scotland in a third World Cup, after featuring in both 2007 and 2011, but missing out in 2015.

A third World Cup participation for Scotland puts Barclay on a par with the likes of Gavin Hastings, Scott Hastings, Ross Ford and Chris Paterson, to name four of the 13 players to have reached that level. Paterson is the only player among the previous 13 to eventually make a fourth World Cup participation.

Stuart McInally will captain Scotland. He was selected in the original 31-man squad four years ago, but didn’t feature at RWC 2015.