Ireland

Aki hoping to achieve 'proud' moment against Samoa

The Ireland juggernaut centre admitted it would be a source of huge family pride should he get the nod to take on Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday.

Aki was born in Auckland to Samoan parents and starred with the Chiefs before joining Connacht in 2014, committing to Ireland in both rugby and community.

The 29-year-old conjured a barnstorming performance when Ireland dispatched New Zealand 16-9 in Dublin in November, producing the perfect riposte to All Blacks coach Ian Foster who had questioned his residency qualification.

Rugby hosts Japan stun Ireland 19-12 in massive World Cup upset

The Brave Blossoms came from behind at Shizuoka Stadium with Kenki Fukuoka's second-half try and Yu Tamura's boot beating a side recently ranked number one in the world in a shock to match their victory over twice world champions South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.

While they stunned world rugby then, to win this time in front of an uproarious home crowd with so much focus on Asia's first World Cup was arguably more significant.

Schmidt's frustration over injured Ireland stars

Flanker O’Mahony and centre Aki failed Head Injury Assessments (HIAs) in Ireland’s stunning 27-3 bonus-point win over Scotland in Yokohama on Sunday.

Head coach Schmidt revealed neither Ireland star was showing any concussion symptoms after their opening Pool A encounter – but was left to lament the coupling of a six-day return-to-play process with the same length of time to his side’s next match.

Kiwi coaches seeking their fortunes abroad

Even Sir Graham and Hansen themselves were forced to take a pathway through Wales en route to the top NZ role.

If you're in doubt about which teams to support at the Rugby World Cup when New Zealand aren't playing, this list of Kiwi-coached sides may swing your allegiance.

Joe Schmidt (Ireland)

International teams coached: Ireland (2013-present)

International record: 50-18-1 (72.5 percent)

Tournament titles: Three (Six Nations 2014, 2015, 2018)

Ireland top rankings going into RWC 2019

Saturday's 19-10 victory over Wales was worth just over sixth-tenths of a rating point to Ireland and improves their overall tally to 89.47 points, while the All Blacks remain on 89.40 points following their emphatic 92-7 win against Tonga at Eden Park in Auckland in which winger George Bridge bagged four tries.

In Dublin, Rob Kearney and Hadleigh Parkes traded first-half tries before scores from Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan helped to give captain Rory Best and head coach Joe Schmidt a winning send-off in what was their final home test.

Ireland knock off Wales, France thrash Italy

The Irish, beaten 57-15 by England, won in Cardiff for the first time since August 2015 after scoring three tries in the Rugby World Cup warm-up match, two for Jacob Stockdale and a penalty try bringing Wales' 11-game home winning streak stretching back to November 2017 to an end.

 The two teams meet again next Saturday in Dublin and the defeat will rankle more with Gatland as he remains bitter about the manner in which he was dismissed as head coach by the Irish in 2001.

"It was massive for us," man of the match Jack Carty told Channel 4.

O'Driscoll expecting Irish response

Ireland were the dominant team in world rugby in 2018, winning the Six Nations Grand Slam and defeating world champions New Zealand.

But this year has been a different story, with a humbling 57-15 reverse to England in Saturday's World Cup warm-up at Twickenham providing cause for concern.

Yet former Ireland star O'Driscoll is backing Joe Schmidt's men to respond, potentially starting with back-to-back fixtures against Wales before the tournament in Japan.

England sound warning with massive win over Ireland

At the heart of England's second triumph in three warmup tests was man of the match Manu Tuilagi, who bristled with power and intent to torment an Irish defense that fell to pieces in the second half.

Ireland scored first through a Jordan Larmour try, but their hopes of the win that would lift it to No. 1 in the world rankings at the expense of Wales quickly disintegrated.

Ireland hungry for success

Ireland were unable to repeat their 2018 Grand Slam heroics, finishing third after losing to both England and a Wales side that pulled off a clean sweep to secure the title in March.

Captain Best says Ireland will be ready to put that disappointment behind them at the showpiece in Japan.

Best, who will retire after a tournament, which will also bring an end to head coach Joe Schmidt's reign, said: "When Joe first came in the big question was 'how do we perceive ourselves?'. The big answer was 'inconsistent'.

Fan takes legal action after rugby ball hits their head during All Blacks test in Ireland

The fan has made a personal injury claim after being struck by a ball during Ireland's historic 16-9 win over the All Blacks in Dublin on November 17, 2018. 

According to The Times, the case is one of two lodged by separate female fans against the IRFU and New Stadium DAC, who operate the Aviva Stadium. Both were hit in the head by balls players had booted into the stands.

The other incident was during a European Champions Cup game between Munster and Saracens on April 22, 2017.