In-form Ireland face three-time champions New Zealand seeking to improve their wretched quarter-final record at the Rugby World Cup.

The Irish are through to the last eight of the competition for the eighth time but have never progressed beyond it.

Here, the PA news agency looks back on Ireland’s last five quarter-final matches.

France 36 Ireland 12 (Durban, 1995)

Following successive last-eight exits to Australia in the first two editions of the tournament, Ireland suffered a similar fate at the hands of France.


Twenty-six points from the boot of Thierry Lacroix, plus tries from Philippe Saint-Andre and Emile Ntamack, did the damage.

Eric Elwood’s four penalties were insufficient for Gerry Murphy’s men.

France 43 Ireland 21 (Melbourne, 2003)

Ireland lost a quarter-final play-off to Argentina in 1999 before suffering more last-eight frustration against France four years later.

Les Bleus initially claimed four unanswered tries before Kevin Maggs’ score and two from Brian O’Driscoll salvaged some pride.

Frederic Michalak also kicked 23 points for the dominant French, who were beaten by eventual champions England in the semi-finals.

Ireland 10 Wales 22 (Wellington, 2011)

Ireland, who suffered pool-stage elimination in 2007, topped Pool C ahead of Australia before crashing out to their Six Nations rivals.

Declan Kidney’s side were level at 10-10 early in the second period after Keith Earls’ try and five points from Ronan O’Gara wiped out Wales’ lead.

But the Irish were second best and had no answer to decisive scores from Mike Phillips and Jonathan Davies.

Ireland 20 Argentina 43 (Cardiff, 2015)

Injury-ravaged Ireland were savaged by the Pumas.

Without influential performers Paul O’Connell, Johnny Sexton, Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien and Jared Payne, the stunned Irish trailed 17-0 inside 13 minutes.

Tries from Luke Fitzgerald and Jordi Murphy cut the deficit to just three points but four-try Argentina emphatically prevented a fight back to claim a famous win.

New Zealand 46 Ireland 14 (Tokyo, 2019)

Optimism was high ahead of Ireland’s trip to Japan four years ago. Yet head coach Joe Schmidt endured a torrid farewell as his side were ripped apart by the reigning champions.

The merciless All Blacks ran in seven tries on a punishing evening for their error-strewn opponents.

Robbie Henshaw’s score and a penalty try were scant consolation as Ireland suffered their heaviest World Cup loss.

Ireland will take on three-time champions New Zealand on Saturday evening in a crunch Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Paris.

The Irish had to wait 111 years for a first Test victory over the All Blacks but have had the upper hand recently by winning four of the last six meetings.

Here, the PA news agency picks out some memorable recent matches between the two nations.

New Zealand 60 Ireland 0 (Hamilton, 2012)

An unforgettable match for all the wrong reasons from an Irish perspective.

A maiden win over the All Blacks seemed a million miles away just over a decade ago following the country’s record defeat on a humiliating evening.

Ruthless New Zealand wrapped up a 3-0 series success with a nine-try demolition of an Ireland team containing current squad members Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, Keith Earls and Peter O’Mahony.

Present-day Kiwi captain Sam Cane claimed two of the reigning world champions’ scores as Declan Kidney’s men were sent home embarrassed.

Ireland 22 New Zealand 24 (Dublin, 2013)

Aaron Cruden completed a remarkable comeback for record-breaking New Zealand by slotting a retaken conversion with the final act of a heartbreaking afternoon for the hosts.

Ireland were moments away from a milestone win after Rob Kearney’s 80-metre dash helped them lead 19-0 inside 18 minutes.

But, with the clock in the 82nd minute, Ryan Crotty’s try levelled matters.

Cruden then silenced a stunned Aviva Stadium by slotting the extras at the second attempt as the All Blacks became the first Test side in the professional era to achieve a 100 per cent record in a calendar year.

Ireland 40 New Zealand 29 (Chicago, 2016)

Ireland’s class of 2016 produced fireworks at Soldier Field on Bonfire Night to stamp their names into the history books with a landmark first triumph over the All Blacks at the 29th attempt.

Tries from Jordi Murphy, CJ Stander and Conor Murray gave Joe Schmidt’s side a commanding half-time advantage.

Simon Zebo’s score stretched the lead to 30-8 before Robbie Henshaw completed the job after the All Blacks, seeking a 19th straight win, threatened another stunning fightback by closing the gap to just four points.

Ireland 16 New Zealand 9 (Dublin, 2018)

Ireland laid down a marker ahead of the 2019 World Cup by beating the All Blacks on home soil for the first time.

Jacob Stockdale’s superb chip-and-gather try decided an absorbing contest between Test rugby’s top two sides.

Fly-half Sexton advanced his claims for the world player of the year award, which he went on to win, with the rest of his nation’s points, while Beauden Barrett’s boot kept the Kiwis in contention.

Steve Hansen’s side may have come off second best but they gained revenge 11 months later on the biggest stage in Tokyo with a thumping 46-14 quarter-final win.

New Zealand 22 Ireland 32 (Wellington, 2022)

A week on from a maiden victory over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil – 23-12 in Dunedin – Ireland made more history by wrapping up a stunning series success to climb to the top of the world rankings.

Andy Farrell’s men raced into a 19-point half-time lead in an epic encounter courtesy of tries from Josh van der Flier, Hugo Keenan and Henshaw.

The All Blacks closed to within three points in a frenetic second period before Rob Herring extinguished a Kiwi fightback to seal arguably Ireland’s finest result.

Andy Farrell believes in-form World Cup hopefuls Ireland were previously plagued by an “inferiority complex”.

Test rugby’s top-ranked nation will bid to make history against New Zealand in Paris on Saturday evening by becoming the first Irish team to progress to the semi-finals of the competition.

Head coach Farrell was assistant to Joe Schmidt when Ireland went into the 2019 tournament as the sport’s number one country only to suffer a humiliating last-eight stuffing at the hands of the formidable All Blacks.

The Englishman, who has masterminded 17 successive wins, feels Ireland are becoming better at handling the pressure of having a target on their back and must continue to do so in order to emulate the sustained success of the Kiwis.


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“I suppose an inferiority complex is what’s happened in the past as far as getting to world number one and thinking that we’re going to fall off a cliff because this shouldn’t be happening to Ireland,” said Farrell.

“But what we’ve learnt to do is throw ourselves into big challenges and try to meet them head on and embrace that.

“We don’t want to be second best, we want to be first best. But we also realise what comes with that, that people are always chasing you hard down.

“You’ve seen with the All Blacks over the last 20 years – that’s why they’re so respected because it’s very hard to stay at the top.

“The guys that are the favourites are the ones I’ve always looked at throughout my career and envied really because of how hard it is to do that.

“That’s the place we want to be because if you’re serious about getting better and being the team that you want to be, that’s the world that you’ve got to live in.”

While New Zealand are three-time world champions, Ireland have repeatedly fallen at the quarter-final hurdle.

The Six Nations champions were full of optimism going into the same stage four years ago before crashing out 46-14 to the All Blacks in Tokyo.

Farrell has committed time and effort to improving the mental resilience of his players and says they must remember Ireland are a “bloody good team” if they suffer performance anxiety this weekend at Stade de France.

“It’s another big game in front of us,” said the 48-year-old, who led his side to a historic tour success in New Zealand last summer.

“At this stage, it’s all about preparation and recovery and making sure there’s an ownership of the plan that you’re going to try and apply on the opposition at the weekend.

“We immerse ourselves with that and that’s the only way it should be. Of course things start to creep in, but we’ve tools and experience to combat all that.

“The main part is to remember that we’re a bloody good team that play together and, when we do that, you’re not on your own, so you can get away from those type of thoughts.”

Ireland full-back Hugo Keenan is delighted to have “X-factor” wings Mack Hansen and James Lowe fit and ready to join him for a blockbuster World Cup quarter-final with the All Blacks.

Hansen appeared to be a major doubt for Saturday’s Stade de France clash after sitting out training on Tuesday and Wednesday due to a calf problem sustained in last weekend’s 36-14 win over Scotland.

Lowe has also overcome injury – an eye issue suffered against the Scots – to retain his starting role for the crunch meeting with his native New Zealand.


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Ireland ended their final Pool B fixture in unfamiliar fashion with a scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park on the left flank and centre Garry Ringrose on the right.


Head coach Andy Farrell has been able to name an unchanged starting XV for a titanic last-eight encounter, including a first-choice backline.

“Its brilliant,” said Keenan. “We finished the game with an interesting back three.

“Jamo did a brilliant job, didn’t he? He is such a creative player, so exciting, so he slotted in well on the wing.

“To have the two lads back again brings a bit of X-factor to the back three. I always enjoy playing with them so great news.”

Hansen on Tuesday watched from the stands at Ireland’s training base of Stade des Fauvettes in the northern outskirts of Paris and was again absent on Wednesday, while Lowe took part in both sessions.

Veteran Keith Earls was thought to be pushing for a first appearance since the opening weekend of the tournament before Farrell sprung a surprise with his team announcement.

Referring to Australia-born Hansen, the coach said: “Everyone is very confident that he’s going to be fine for the game.”

Ireland propelled themselves to the top of the world rankings courtesy of last summer’s landmark 2-1 tour success in New Zealand, in addition to launching their current run of 17 consecutive victories.

Farrell’s in-form side have enjoyed a growing rivalry with the All Blacks, winning three of four meetings during his tenure and four of six overall.

“We haven’t played them for over a year now,” said Keenan. “They will have improved massively.

“They will have taken the learnings from those games and they’ll come out gunning for us as well.”


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Lock Tadhg Beirne, who started all three Tests against New Zealand in 2022, feels there is a healthy respect between the two nations.

“Rugby is one of those games where, when you go on to the field, you go to beat the crap out of each other for 80 minutes and when you step off it, you’re very happy to grab a beer with your opposition number and enjoy the moments afterwards,” he said. “It’s no different with New Zealand.

“One thing I will remember from New Zealand is after the last Test, we had beaten them and we ran out of beer pretty quickly.

“The New Zealand squad were pretty quick to bring in their beer and leave us celebrating. That’s respect too, off-field respect.

“It will be no different on Saturday, we’re both going to go at it for 80 minutes and we’ll be very happy to walk in and have a beer in the changing room with them, for sure.”

Manager Rob Page says Wales should not move home games to the Principality Stadium ahead of Euro 2028.

The UK and Ireland’s bid to host Euro 2028 was formally approved on Tuesday, with the 74,500-capacity home of Welsh rugby in Cardiff among the 10 venues to be used for the tournament.

The idea of playing at the Principality Stadium – Wales have played there only once since 2011, a 4-1 friendly defeat to Spain in October 2018 – angers a large section of the Dragons’ fan base, who prefer that games are played at the 33,280-capacity Cardiff City Stadium.

But Noel Mooney, chief executive of the Football Association of Wales, last month raised the possibility of the men’s national team playing there before Euro 2028 to allow players and supporters to get used to the venue should they qualify for the tournament.

“Do I want it? No,” Page said of that suggestion ahead of Wales’ friendly with Gibraltar on Wednesday, which will be only the second time that the Dragons have played at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground since 2008.

“The atmosphere and what we have created at Cardiff City Stadium is incredible.

“I’ve been quite vocal about it in the last couple of weeks because, although we have a game in Wrexham, what we have created in Cardiff is incredible and has definitely played a part in helping us with our success in the last two years.

“Promotion from B to A in the Nations League, qualification for the Euros and then the World Cup, our supporters in that stadium played a massive part.”

All five countries – England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland – are expected to go through qualification for Euro 2028, with UEFA understood to be reserving two host nation places for any of the teams which do not make it on merit.

While the final and possibly both semi-finals could be at Wembley, the FAW is hoping to stage the opening match of the tournament and maybe as many as six games at the Principality Stadium.

“It’s a grey area. I don’t think it’s going to be an automatic qualification for us,” Page said.

“It’s massive for us as a country, nation, Cardiff as a capital. It’s a great achievement (to host Euro 2028).

“Everyone should be proud of bringing the tournament to the city.”

Page is expected to hand senior debuts to Charlie Savage, Luke Harris and Owen Beck in front of a sell-out 10,000 crowd against Gibraltar.

The trio will then join up with their Wales Under-21 team-mates for Friday’s European Championship qualifier in the Czech Republic.

Beck, the great-nephew of Liverpool and Wales striker Ian Rush, says he regularly receives advice from his famous relative.

“When I got called up it was a dream come true, a surreal moment,” said Beck, the Liverpool full-back currently on loan at Scottish Premiership side Dundee.

“All my family are coming. I’ve spoken to him (Rush) and if he gives me any advice, it’s from the best and really valuable to me.

“I’m sure he’ll be here watching. He’s someone I look up to, to have a career like that at club and international level. He’s a great inspiration.”

Savage, the son of former Wales midfielder Robbie, told the FAW website: “Growing up, if someone told me at the age of 20 that I’d be called up by my country, I’d have bitten your hand off. I’ve got to enjoy it whether I play or not.

“I’m looking forward to Wednesday. My nan’s coming, she lives about a mile away from The Racecourse. To have all my family there from Wrexham, it will be an amazing night.”

Gibraltar are 198th on the FIFA rankings table with only nine teams below them.

Julio Cesar Ribas’ side are using the game as preparation for their Euro 2024 qualifier against Republic of Ireland on Monday.

The UK and Ireland’s bid to host Euro 2028 has been approved by UEFA’s executive committee after Turkey pulled out of the running.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the 10 stadia across five nations which will host the matches in just under five years’ time.


England’s national stadium will host the final – and potentially both semi-finals – having also been the venue for the Euro 96 finale and the decisive England v Italy clash at Euro 2020. The Football Association will be working hard with the authorities to ensure there is no repeat of the chaotic scenes which surrounded that match. Wembley is celebrating its centenary this year, with the original stadium opening in 1923 for the British Empire Exhibition.

Etihad Stadium

Work is set to begin later this year on increasing the capacity of treble-winning Manchester City’s ground to almost 62,000 by 2025. The club left their former home ground Maine Road and moved into the stadium in 2003. It was built to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games and hosted the 2008 UEFA Cup final, while England’s football and rugby union sides have both staged fixtures there.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Spurs’ home is the largest club stadium in London, with a capacity of over 62,000. Opened in April 2019, the stadium includes a retractable pitch with a synthetic NFL surface underneath. Its 17,500-seat, single-tier South Stand is the largest in the UK and features Europe’s longest bar – The Goal Line.

Everton Stadium

The Toffees’ new home at Bramley-Moore Dock is scheduled for completion late next year. Developers are working to a capacity of 52,888.

St James’ Park

St James’ Park, home to Newcastle since the club was formed in 1892, also hosted matches at Euro 96. Newcastle are considering options to develop the stadium which might mean the capacity, currently 52,305, has increased by the time the championship begins in 2028.

Villa Park

Villa Park hosted three World Cup matches in 1966 and four matches during Euro 96. A go-to ground for FA Cup semi-finals – hosting 55 – the stadium is set to be redeveloped to increase capacity to over 50,000 ahead of the tournament.


The Dublin venue, which holds over 51,000 people and officially opened in 2010, regularly hosts Republic of Ireland football matches and those of the Ireland rugby union team, as well as high-profile Gaelic sports. The stadium, built on the site of the former Lansdowne Road Stadium, which was demolished in 2007, had been part of the original multi-country plans to host Euro 2020 but could not ultimately provide UEFA with the necessary assurances over minimum spectator levels amid the Covid-19 pandemic.


Construction on the site in the Andersonstown area of Belfast is due to get under way next year with completion by 2026. The capacity of the stadium is set to be 34,500. It was opened in 1953 to stage Gaelic games and has since been home to the Antrim Gaelic Athletic Association.

SCOTLANDHampden Park

Scotland’s national stadium did host matches at Euro 2020. The Scottish Football Association has also bid to stage the Champions League final in 2026 or 2027 at the stadium, which currently holds just over 50,000. However, developers have put forward proposals to upgrade the stadium and increase capacity to 65,000. A record British crowd of 149,415 saw Scotland beat England 3-1 at Hampden in 1937.

WALESPrincipality Stadium

The Cardiff venue has hosted major European football events before, having staged the 2017 Champions League final. Set to be the second-largest venue in the tournament with a capacity of 74,500.

The UK and Ireland’s bid to host Euro 2028 has been formally approved, UEFA has announced.

Ten stadia across the five nations will host the matches in five years’ time, with analysts projecting a three billion euro (£2.6bn) boost to the host nation economies on the back of the tournament.

The bid was unopposed after Turkey withdrew to focus on a joint bid for the 2032 finals alongside Italy, and it was given the official seal of approval by UEFA’s executive committee on Tuesday morning.

Wembley is set to host the final – and potentially both semi-finals – with the other English venues included in April’s final bid submission being the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Etihad Stadium, Villa Park, St James’ Park and Everton’s new ground at Bramley-Moore Dock.

Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Hampden Park in Glasgow, Dublin’s Aviva Stadium and a redeveloped Casement Park in Belfast will also host matches.

All five nations are expected to go through qualification for the tournament, with UEFA understood to be reserving two host nation places for any of the teams which do not make it on merit.

The UK-Ireland bid would have been the overwhelming favourite to host Euro 2028 even if Turkey had remained in the race. Senior UEFA sources have repeatedly stressed the importance of hosting another European Championship in a major market – following on from Euro 2024 in Germany – as essential to boosting UEFA’s finances in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There will still be issues for the bid team to resolve over the next five years however – with agreement still to be reached on who will fund the redevelopment of Casement Park.

Plans for a 34,000 stadium have been delayed by legal challenges and are further complicated by the lack of a functioning Executive at Stormont.

Costs have also risen from an original estimate of £77.5million to more than  £100m. The GAA is part-funding the project but has not reached an agreement with Stormont over where the remainder will come from.

Tuesday’s decision means England will be involved in hosting a Euros for a third time. They hosted alone in Euro 96 and were one of 11 countries involved in staging the continent-wide Euro 2020.

The UK and Ireland associations first announced they were focusing on a bid for Euro 2028 in February last year.

It had been expected that they would bid for the centenary World Cup in 2030 but Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham admitted at the time there were “many areas of uncertainty” with doing so, leading to the switch in focus.

The UK and Ireland’s bid to host Euro 2028 is set to be officially approved later today.

Turkey’s withdrawal to focus on a joint bid with Italy to host Euro 2032 leaves the five-nation bid unopposed to host the tournament in five years’ time, with former Wales forward Gareth Bale adding a sprinkling of stardust to the presentation that will be made to UEFA’s executive committee alongside six youth ambassadors.

It emerged on Monday that England had requested to go through qualification for Euro 2028.

UEFA has reserved two ‘safety net’ host-nation berths should any of the five UK and Ireland bidders not qualify on merit, but the Football Association is understood to have already told UEFA that England are keen to go through qualification.

The FA is keen to keep the team competitive on the run-up to the finals, with Germany having struggled in friendly action in the build-up to Euro 2024. There are also concerns over the level of opposition they would be able to secure if they were limited to friendlies.

If more than two of the five hosts do not make it, only the two with the best record will secure host places. So there are no guarantees all five will be involved in the finals.

Ten stadia were included in the UK-Ireland’s bid submission in April. Six of the venues are in England, with one each from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The six in England are Wembley, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Etihad Stadium, St James’ Park, Villa Park and Everton’s new home at Bramley-Moore Dock.

A redeveloped Casement Park in Belfast, the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Hampden Park in Glasgow and the Principality Stadium in Cardiff are the other stadia included in the submission.

Even with Turkey in the running, the five-nation bid was the overwhelming favourite to be selected.

Senior UEFA sources have indicated the importance of another Euro in a major football market, following on from next year’s tournament in Germany, as European football’s governing body seeks to further replenish its reserves after the financial shock of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The five nations released a joint statement last week following Turkey’s withdrawal, stating they had a “compelling” and “ground-breaking” proposal for UEFA to consider, which would deliver “lasting legacies” across the whole of Ireland and the UK.

Bid leaders estimate that the 2028 tournament is projected to generate around three billion euros (£2.6 billion) of economic benefit for the five host nations.

Keith Earls insists in-form Ireland have eradicated habits instilled by Joe Schmidt ahead of a reunion with their former head coach in Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand.

Schmidt led the Irish into the previous two World Cups, both of which ended with disappointing last-eight exits, before joining the All Blacks’ coaching team last summer.

The 58-year-old’s largely positive six-year tenure culminated in a 46-14 hammering at the hands of the Kiwis at the 2019 tournament in Japan before he was succeeded by his assistant Andy Farrell.

Schmidt is now plotting the downfall of his former employers after switching sides, with Ireland seeking to make history in Paris by stretching their winning run to 18 matches to reach a maiden semi-final.

New Zealand boss Ian Foster publicly outlined plans to tap into Schmidt’s extensive knowledge of the opposition, but Munster wing Earls dismissed the merits of doing so.

“I don’t think Joe would know anything about this squad,” said the 36-year-old. “We’re a completely different squad.

“He probably knows things about individuals but, again, we’ve all changed our habits under this coaching staff and we genuinely don’t use any of the habits that Joe taught us.

“Look, he might have a thing on a couple of individuals, but we’re certainly not the same team that played under Joe.”

Schmidt was due to join the set-up of his native New Zealand following last summer’s three-match home series against Ireland, but he was rushed in early after Covid-19 sidelined Foster and some of his staff.

The All Blacks won the first Test but lost the next two as Ireland launched their current winning streak with a historic tour triumph.

Veteran Earls believes that landmark achievement gave Ireland greater belief, which was enhanced further by this year’s Six Nations Grand Slam success.

Yet he concedes they would be foolish to underestimate the three-time world champions, who have scored 240 points and 36 tries across thrashings of Namibia, Italy and Uruguay following an opening-night defeat to hosts France.

“This tournament is a different animal,” said Earls.

“I know we have beaten New Zealand a few times in the last few years, but they have obviously taught us one or two lessons in between that and beaten us by more than one score.


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“We’re under no illusion as to what is coming at the weekend.


“People speak about New Zealand the last year or two that they’ve dipped in performances, but what we’ve seen in this World Cup, they’re starting to come back with a roar.

“After the French game it’s obviously ignited some spark in them. They’re starting to hit their stride again.

“We’re certainly not undermining New Zealand, you would be very silly to do that.


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“I have no doubt they will be highly emotional and looking for revenge and bring everything they have.”


Earls hopes to be available to add to his 101 caps after sitting out last weekend’s victory over Scotland due to a hamstring niggle.

He also missed Ireland’s landmark first win over the All Blacks in 2016 in Chicago through suspension, a result, masterminded by Schmidt, which he credits for helping to improve Ireland’s self-image.

“As Irish people, we can lack a lot of confidence and be a small bit too humble at times,” he said.

“We’ve done an awful lot of work on ourselves to believe that we can play a certain brand of rugby that can make us compete with anyone in the world.”

Injured Ireland wings Mack Hansen and James Lowe are “making good strides” ahead of Saturday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand, while James Ryan is seeing a specialist on a wrist issue.

As of Monday morning, no member of Andy Farrell’s 33-man squad had been ruled out of the clash with the All Blacks in Paris.

Ryan’s situation is expected to be come clearer in the next 24 hours, with Ireland hopeful the problem is not as bad as first feared.

Wing Keith Earls and centre Robbie Henshaw could be available to feature at Stade de France after missing out against Scotland on Saturday with hamstring injuries.

Team manager Mick Kearney said: “James Ryan is seeing a specialist and we’re hoping for better news than originally anticipated.

“Mack Hansen took a bang to his calf but is improving and both him and James Lowe are making good strides.

“Keith Earls and Robbie Henshaw are both in contention as they progress during the week and apart from that just some usual bumps and bruises after a physical Test match.”

Ireland secured their last-eight spot in emphatic fashion by topping Pool B thanks to a crushing 36-14 win over the eliminated Scots.

But that victory came at a cost as Hansen was forced off after returning from a head injury assessment before opening try scorer Lowe departed at half-time due to a bang in the eye.

Lock Ryan, who injured his other wrist in the 13-8 success over South Africa on September 23, then added to the list of concerns for head coach Farrell.

“We won’t have a definitive on James (Ryan) until after he sees the specialist but certainly there is more optimism around James than probably what was originally anticipated,” added Kearney.

“Within the next 24 hours we should have a clearer picture of where James is at.

“At this stage, no one ruled out for the match against New Zealand.”

The UK and Ireland’s bid to host Euro 2028 is poised to get the formal seal of approval on Tuesday.

The UEFA executive committee is set to give the green light to the five-nation bid, which is unopposed after Turkey withdrew last week to focus on its joint bid with Italy for Euro 2032.

Ten stadia were included in the UK-Ireland’s bid submission in April. Six of the venues are in England, with one each from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The six in England are Wembley, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Etihad Stadium, St James’ Park, Villa Park and Everton’s new home at Bramley-Moore Dock.

A redeveloped Casement Park in Belfast, the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Hampden Park in Glasgow and the Principality Stadium in Cardiff are the other stadia included in the submission.

Even with Turkey in the running, the five-nation bid was the overwhelming favourite to be selected.

Senior UEFA sources have indicated the importance of another Euro in a major football market, following on from next year’s tournament in Germany, as European football’s governing body seeks to further replenish its reserves after the financial shock of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The five nations released a joint statement last week following Turkey’s withdrawal, stating they had a “compelling” and “ground-breaking” proposal for UEFA to consider, which would deliver “lasting legacies” across the whole of Ireland and the UK.

There are nevertheless some major issues that need to be addressed if the UK-Ireland bid is accepted by the ExCo.

For a start, the Casement Park site is derelict and plans by the Gaelic Athletic Association to redevelop it with a 34,000 capacity have been mired in controversy and hit by delays.

The Casement project has been delayed by a series of legal challenges and is further complicated by the lack of a functioning Executive at Stormont.

The redevelopment has also been hit by rising costs, with an original projected price tag from almost a decade ago of £77.5million now believed to have spiralled well above £100m.

The GAA is part-funding the project but has yet to reach an agreement with Stormont on how to cover a multi-million-pound shortfall.

Wembley would be expected to host the final in 2028, another major test for the 90,000-capacity venue after the chaos surrounding its hosting of the Euro 2020 final.

Football Association chair Debbie Hewitt said in June: “One of the things I am absolutely convinced UEFA’s Exco will ask us is, ‘How can you assure us nobody will storm the turnstiles?’

“We have to convince every one of those Exco members we have not only thought about it, but that we have planned for it – that we know what we would do in what order and who is accountable.”

England manager Gareth Southgate said it was a “brilliant opportunity” for the nations involved and added: “They will have huge pride in hosting and if the teams get qualified as well then there’s obviously some home advantage to hosting as well.”

Qualification for all of the hosts is not guaranteed.

UEFA’s preferred approach is that all five nations enter qualification, with two host-nation places kept in reserve for any that fail to make it.

However, if more than two do not qualify by right, then only the best two to miss out will be given host-nation places.

Andy Farrell insists a World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand is “as tough as it gets” after “little old Ireland” topped Pool B thanks to a six-try demolition of Scotland.

The rampant Six Nations champions emphatically underlined their status as Test rugby’s top-ranked side by banishing any lingering doubts of an early exit with a crushing 36-14 success which eliminated the Scots.

Ireland will return to Paris next Saturday for a showdown with the All Blacks seeking to make history by progressing beyond the last eight of the tournament for the first time.

Head coach Farrell led his side to a landmark series success in New Zealand last summer and is braced for another major test following statement Stade de France victories over reigning champions South Africa and Scotland.

“New Zealand are a fantastic side, and for little old Ireland to be talked about in the same bracket as the All Blacks shows how far we’ve come as a rugby-playing nation,” he said.

“The respect we’ve got for New Zealand is through the roof.

“The form they’ve got at this moment in time is top drawer and I’m sure that they will be relishing this fixture to try and put a few things right. It’s tough, it’s as tough as it gets.

“Two weeks ago (against South Africa), it was a tough game and this one was knock-out type rugby so it gets a whole lot tougher next week against the All Blacks and hopefully they will need to be at their best to beat us as well.”

James Lowe’s early try settled any Irish nerves in Saint-Denis before Hugo Keenan crossed either side of a score from the recalled Iain Henderson to quickly take the game away from shell-shocked Scotland.

Dan Sheehan and Garry Ringrose added to the opposition’s embarrassment, prior to consolation tries from Scottish pair Ewan Ashman and Ali Price.

Farrell must wait to discover the true cost of a feisty affair in the French capital, with wings Mack Hansen and Lowe and replacement lock James Ryan each sustaining injuries.

“Obviously, we’ll see how they pull up in the morning but Mack went off with a HIA (head injury assessment) and when he came back on he felt his calf straight away, so we got him off,” said Farrell.

“James Ryan has a bit of a knock on his wrist that we have to assess more, so we’ll see how he is now.

“James Lowe got a bang in the eye, his eye shut and he couldn’t really see much. His vision was coming back towards the end of the game, which is good.

“Then, a few more bangs and bruises that we’ll need to assess tomorrow.”

Ireland once again performed a celebratory lap of honour in front of tens of thousands of jubilant Irish supporters.

Farrell savoured another special occasion, while wishing he could simultaneously enjoy the “bonkers” scenes back home.

“My wife and me two girls were there, that’s why I was singing to them,” he said.

“I think it’s amazing, the songs at the end of the game, I love all that.

“We got a bit of stick, didn’t we, for walking around against South Africa, but we walk round and thank the fans after every game.

“It’s the least we can do when they turn up in their thousands like they’ve done.

“We play for them, we talk about it every week. I talked about it before the game today in the dressing room, it means more than what people think, 100 per cent.

“I know that France is buzzing with Irish people, but I believe it’s bonkers back home. We’re torn a bit, enjoying it with the fans back home or stay here? We’ll stay here for now!”

Gregor Townsend admitted Ireland were simply too good for his Scotland team to handle as their World Cup dream ended with a chastening 36-14 defeat by the world’s top-ranked side in Paris on Saturday night.

After losing their opening match to South Africa, the Scots had to win with a bonus point or by denying the Irish a losing bonus in order to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Their hopes were dented by the concession of a try after just over a minute and the game was effectively over by half-time as the Irish ran in another three scores before the break to lead 26-0.

Scotland rallied slightly to win the second half 14-10, but there was a sense of dejection at full-time as they departed the tournament at the first hurdle at a time when they are ranked fifth in the world.

“It’s a very disappointing result, we have gone out of the World Cup against the highest-ranked side in the world, and they were well ahead at half-time,” rued head coach Townsend.

“We played the number two side in the world in the opening game and it was a close game.

“In isolation, this is a really disappointing defeat against a very good side and one we believed we had the ability to beat.

“They were the better team tonight, they were excellent and it’s probably the best I have seen them play.

“It’s probably where we and they are in terms of the rankings and why now they are the favourites for the World Cup.”

Townsend did not feel James Lowe’s early try set the tone as Scotland went on to enjoy a spell of pressure thereafter, albeit without reward, before Ireland turned the screw in the lead-up to half-time.

“The early try wasn’t a factor as we managed in that first 20 minutes to put some good rugby together, but we didn’t put any points on the board,” said Townsend.

“The tries before half-time we could have defended better, but I have to give credit to Ireland as they executed very well and the game went away from us.

“In the second half, I was really proud of the effort and the intent to not allow the score to become a bigger one. We came back and showed who we were in attack.

“The game had gotten away from us, so we focused on winning back respect. To get two tries against such a top team, we’ll take a little bit out of that.

“We’re very disappointed with the result and the first-half performance, but credit to Ireland, who were very, very good.”

While the fact they were placed in a group alongside the world’s top-ranked side and the defending world champions counts as some mitigation for Scotland’s early exit, Townsend acknowledged his team were not at their best over the course of the tournament.

“We certainly have to do better, and the responsibility is mine,” he said. “We believed we could get out of this pool, and we still believed that after losing to South Africa with the response the players showed in training and the games they played (against Tonga and Romania), gave us an opportunity tonight, which we didn’t take.

“Ireland are a better team than us on tonight’s performance, and they’ve won 17 games in a row so they’ve clearly been the better team over the last couple of years. Now, if we can get on the journey they have been on the last few years then great – but it is easy saying that, it is another thing doing it.

“You become a better team through defeats as well as victories, and we’ve got to make sure that this defeat makes us a better team for the Six Nations coming up and the next World Cup, although at this point the Six Nations is much more relevant.”

Rampant Ireland set up tantalising quarter-final rematch against New Zealand by condemning ragged rivals Scotland to another early World Cup exit with a crushing 36-14 bonus-point success in Paris.

Gregor Townsend’s men required a heroic win by eight points or more at Stade de France to snatch progression at the expense of their opponents.

But Test rugby’s top-ranked nation emphatically underlined their status with a thrilling display of attacking verve to avoid major drama in a feisty encounter.

James Lowe’s early try settled any nerves before Hugo Keenan crossed either side of a score from the recalled Iain Henderson to quickly take the game away from the shell-shocked Scots before the break.

Dan Sheehan and Garry Ringrose added to the embarrassment before Scottish pair Ewan Ashman and Ali Price claimed quickfire consolations.

Ireland will take on the All Blacks in the last eight, seeking to avenge the 46-14 thrashing suffered at the same stage of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Head coach Andy Farrell perhaps has cause for concern ahead of that showdown due apparent injuries suffered by wings Mack Hansen and Lowe.

Scotland, meanwhile, face an early flight home for the second successive tournament, with South Africa going through as Pool B runners-up to take on hosts France.

Premature departures for Blair Kinghorn, Jamie Ritchie and Darcy Graham due to fitness issues contributed to their woes, while Ollie Smith was shown a yellow card for causing a mass brawl.

The Scots came into the competition with one of their most talented teams in years but, following a chastening evening in the French capital, were left to rue being placed in the most difficult group alongside the reigning champions and the world’s number one team.

Permutations, premature elimination and the slim possibility of the Springboks crashing out dominated the build-up to a titanic qualification shoot-out in Saint-Denis.

A deafening roar greeted the teams and the decibels were raised further among the dominant Irish support with just over a minute on the clock when Hansen sent Lowe over in the left corner after Ringrose dummied his way beyond Grant Gilchrist.

Scotland roared back and showed a statement of intent by kicking a series of penalties to the corner, forcing Ireland to ferociously repel prolonged pressure.

But their cause was not helped by losing full-back Kinghorn, whose 50th cap lasted just nine minutes, and captain Ritchie, while Ireland wing Hansen also went off.

Ireland’s defiant defending was matched equally by awesome attacking enterprise and they stretched the scoreboard significantly with two quickfire tries.

Delightful slick interplay from right to left unlocked the Scottish backline, culminating in Ringrose teeing up the onrushing Keenan in the 27th minute, before Henderson marked his first start of the tournament by bulldozing over minutes later.

Far from thinking about the knock-out stages, Scotland trudged down the tunnel at the break fearing humiliation.

Ireland’s well-oiled machine led 26-0 ahead at that stage with a bonus point in the bag after Johnny Sexton set up Keenan’s second and then sent over his third successful conversion.

Scotland desperately needed to show some fight and did so as tempers boiled over early in the second period during a melee sparked by Smith’s off-the-ball trip on Sexton.

Players from both sides piled in, with Pierre Schoeman and Sheehan ploughing over an advertising board, before instigator Smith was sin-binned.

Sheehan was on the floor again minutes later, this time diving over to claim Ireland’s fifth try before Farrell wisely withdrew talisman Sexton, in addition to five of his forwards.

Jack Crowley’s fine cross-field kick sent over Ringrose before Scottish resistance finally materialised in the shape of a pair of well-taken scores, each converted by the largely subdued Finn Russell.

Replacement hooker Ashman made an immediate impact by galloping over on the right to ensure his side were not whitewashed, before scrum-half Price finished a fine team move.

Yet their endeavours mattered little as Ireland comfortably marched on thanks to a 17th successive win and a ninth in a row against the eliminated Scots.

James Lowe insisted in-form Ireland are far from “invincible” as he dismissed the notion complacency could derail their Rugby World Cup dream.

Andy Farrell’s side have swept all before them during a 15-month stay at the top of the Test rankings which has brought 16 consecutive victories.

Ireland are on the cusp of the quarter-finals in France but could still be on an early flight home as they prepare to put their impressive winning streak on the line in Saturday evening’s pivotal Pool B finale against rivals Scotland.

The Six Nations Grand Slam champions must prevent defeat by eight points or more in Paris to secure a knockout spot, otherwise their fate will be reliant on bonus points or head-to-head results.

Leinster wing Lowe, who has already helped Ireland overcome Romania, Tonga and South Africa, is taking nothing for granted.

“Obviously it does give us confidence in what we’ve done over the last three to four years in terms of what we’ve built,” said the 31-year-old.

“We know what works but even in wins there’s still things to learn. Invincible? I wouldn’t go anywhere near that word. Complacency is something that can’t creep into this group as well and it doesn’t.

“We understand the serious threats and we’ve respected every opposition that we’ve played so far in this competition. We’re just as diligent with Scotland as we were with South Africa, Romania, and Tonga.”

Farrell’s men are essentially playing knockout rugby as they bid to confirm a likely last-eight clash with New Zealand.

Ireland have won the last eight meetings with Scotland and not lost to them by at least eight points since a 31-21 warm-up defeat before the last World Cup to be staged in France, way back in 2007.

“Look, Scotland are an amazing team who have definitely pushed us,” said New Zealand-born Lowe.

“I know we’ve probably had the better end of the stick in the last few encounters.

“They’re a team that play with a lot of passion, width and physicality. You respect them because you really, really don’t want to lose. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

The build-up to the crunch clash has come amid a bedbug outbreak across Paris and other French cities.

Ireland have so far been unaffected, with scrum coach John Fogarty joking that certain members of the squad have a built-in repellent.

“Some of the lads fumigate their beds naturally, so there’s no issue,” he said. “Some of the front five, it’s not a problem!

“(I) haven’t come across one (bedbug) really. We have been so lucky with where we’ve stayed and how well we have been looked after here in France. I haven’t heard of any issues so far.”

Ireland had their captain’s run at Stade de France on Friday morning.

Injured centre Robbie Henshaw, who is expected to be sidelined until at least the semi-final stage due to a hamstring issue, was involved, albeit he was restricted to light jogging away from the other 32 players.

“He’s good, as you saw, he’s out running so he’ll be assessed as we go along and we’ll see after the weekend how he pitches up next week,” said Fogarty.

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