The second quarter-final – and it’s arguably the big one as the number one side in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini goes head to head with the three-time champions for a place in the last four.
It’s a match to send shivers of anticipation down the spines of rugby fans everywhere.
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has kept faith with the starting team that convincingly defeated Scotland last time out, as they look to book a semi-final place for the first time.
The only two changes to the match-day team are on the bench, with Joe McCarthy replacing the injured second row James Ryan, and Jimmy O’Brien coming in for Stuart McCloskey.
New Zealand, meanwhile, after losing in the pool phase for the first time, won’t want their tournament to end at this stage for just the second time in their history. The first – and, so far, only – time? At RWC 2007, hosted by France.
FIXTURE: Ireland v New Zealand
GROUND: Stade de France (80,023)
KICK-OFF: 21:00 local time (GMT+2)
Ireland have won five of the eight most recent meetings between the two sides – and came from behind to win a test series in New Zealand for the first time last July. But, until their first victory in Chicago in 2016, the All Blacks had won 27 and drawn one of the teams’ 28 previous encounters dating back to November 1905.
Ireland’s 40–29 win at Soldier Field, in Chicago, in November 2016, has gone down in the annals. But the last time Ireland and New Zealand played one another in a Rugby World Cup was at the quarter-final stage four years ago – and the result was rather different. The All Blacks ended Ireland’s Joe Schmidt years with a comprehensive seven-tries-to-two 46-14 victory. Now, of course, Schmidt is working with New Zealand.
KEY TALKING POINT
Has to be whether Ireland will finally break their quarter-final hoodoo, after falling down at this stage in seven previous attempts, by beating the All Blacks in Saint-Denis.
Caelan Doris v Ardie Savea. Two of the best baller number eights in rugby today on opposite teams in a winner-takes-all match? What’s not to like?
His playing career may be almost over whatever happens here, but Johnny Sexton – who retires after the Rugby World Cup – still has records to break. Including his three tests for the British and Irish Lions, this will be his 18th match against the All Blacks, meaning he will overtake Alun Wyn Jones (17) for the number of tests by any Northern Hemisphere player against New Zealand.
Meanwhile, if he comes off the bench for his 18th Rugby World Cup outing, Conor Murray will overtake Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell’s joint record of tournament matches for Ireland.
Wayne Barnes (England). Barnes was the official in the middle when Ireland won their series decider against New Zealand in Wellington in July 2022 – and was also in charge when Ireland beat the All Blacks for the first time in Dublin in 2018.
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
Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Joe McCarthy, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, Jimmy O’Brien
NEW ZEALAND Beauden Barrett; Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Leicester Fainga'anuku; Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith; Ethan de Groot, Codie Taylor, Tyrel Lomax; Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett; Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane (captain), Ardie Savea
Replacements: Dane Coles, Tamaiti Williams, Fletcher Newell, Samuel Whitelock, Dalton Papali'i, Finlay Christie, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown