Ireland, who came into Rugby World Cup 2023 as the number one-ranked nation in the world, open their Pool B account against Romania, a side returning to the showpiece event after missing out on qualification four years ago.
The Irish boast a perfect winning record against their Eastern European opponents, nicknamed The Oaks, with nine wins in nine outings dating back to 1986, including three in past Rugby World Cups.
Andy Farrell’s side will want to make it four from four as they look to make a strong start in a very difficult pool.
FIXTURE: Ireland v Romania
GROUND: Stade de Bordeaux (42,060)
KICK-OFF: 15:30 local time (GMT+2)
The two sides have met in the pool phase of the 1999, 2003, and 2015 Rugby World Cups, with Ireland scoring over 40 points each time.
The first-ever match between Ireland and Romania, in Dublin in 1986, ended in a 60-0 win for the hosts. The Oaks’ best performance in defeat was 12 years later, as they scored 35 points, conceding 53, at the same venue in a RWC 1999 qualifier.
The Rugby World Cup 2003 match in Australia between the two sides ran according to the script on the pitch. Ireland won 45-17 at Gosford’s Central Coast Stadium.
While the match is not immediately memorable, it is noteworthy as the one at which a certain Ronan O’Gara made his first Rugby World Cup appearance for Ireland, and notched the first of his 24 tournament conversions after coming on in the 70th minute for David Humphreys.
KEY TALKING POINT
Has to be the make up of Pool B in France. Three of the world’s top-five countries - Ireland, South Africa and Scotland - go head-to-head. With points at a premium, matches against Romania and Tonga take on extra importance for the big beasts of the pool looking to qualify for the last eight.
Johnny Sexton v Hinckley Vaovasa. This is a real baptism of fire for Romania’s 24-year-old Vaovasa, who usually plays at full-back but who will go up against one of the greats of the game in Bordeaux, in just his second international outing as a fly-half. Learning curve: near-vertical...
The Rugby World Cup 2015 match between these sides at Wembley holds the tournament crowd record. An astonishing 89,267 people packed the ground to see Ireland run in six tries to Romania’s one in a 44-10 victory.
Nika Amashukeli (GRU). The highly-rated Amashukeli is the first Georgian selected to referee at a Rugby World Cup and is the youngest of the 12 match officials at this tournament - and the second youngest, after Wayne Barnes, to ever take charge of an RWC match.
IRELAND Hugo Keenan; Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Johnny Sexton (captain), Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong; Joe McCarthy, James Ryan; Tadhg Beirne, Peter O'Mahony, Caelan Doris
Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Jeremy Loughman, Tom O'Toole, Iain Henderson, Josh van der Flier, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, Robbie Henshaw
ROMANIA: Marius Simionescu; Nicholas Onutu, Fonovai Tangimana, Jason Tomane, Tevita Manumua; Hinckley Vaovasa, Gabriel Rupanu; Iulian Hartig, Ovidiu Cojocaru, Alexandru Gordas; Adrian Motoc, Stefan Iancu; Florian Rosu, Vlad Neculau, Cristian Chirica (captain)
Replacements: Florin Bardasu, Alexandru Savin, Gheorghe Gajion, Marius Iftimiciuc, Dragos Ser, Alin Conache, Tudor Boldor, Taylor Gontineac