Ireland’s head of nutrition Emma Gardner believes “food is mood” as she attempts to fuel another World Cup triumph following her key role in England’s 2019 cricket success.

Gardner is tasked with managing the varied dietary requirements of Andy Farrell’s 33-man squad for their shot at glory in France.

The 37-year-old previously worked as a nutritionist for the England and Wales Cricket Board, a period which included Ben Stokes’ World Cup final heroics against New Zealand at Lord’s.

She clearly has a recipe for success, having also been involved with Great Britain Hockey when the women’s team clinched gold at the 2016 Olympics.

While diet plans are structured and relatively strict, Gardner, from Accrington, Lancashire, acknowledges there needs to be some leeway and feels “internet, food and sleep” are the main requirements for maintaining morale.

“I took a lot of learnings from both those environments, the Olympic Games and the Cricket World Cup,” she said.

“I’m used to the nature of the tournament, used to getting players ready for a match. Having to get them ready again is probably the main learning.

“It’s a long tournament. There’s a long time to concentrate and keep players focused. A big learning for me is ‘food is mood’, particularly in these campaigns.

“We obviously try to keep high quality all the time but there’ll be times where we go ‘let’s just calm it a bit’ and give them what they want and relax because that’s also important when you’re here for such a long time.

“Internet, food and sleep are the three things that tend to keep people happy.”

Ireland’s players have individual nutritional requirements based on position, body weight and expected playing time, with six eating windows per day.

Prop Andrew Porter, for example, can consume up to 600 grams of carbohydrates – a plate of pasta is around 80 grams – ahead of a game.

Gardner’s work involves devising bespoke plans and ensuring the squad are suitably replenished ready for the next fixture.

“In this squad, I actually haven’t had too many crazy requests,” she said.

“Other teams and other sports, I’ve had some very bizarre requests.

“You sometimes get people wanting steak for every single meal, as an example.

“But these guys are very straightforward, they love their food, they’re not fussy, my life is very simple in a way. They just like food and lots of it.”

Gardner, who started the job last October, began her career at Northampton Saints a decade ago when nutrition in rugby was “hugely” different.

A major challenge during the current tournament is that all but one of Ireland’s fixtures kick off at 9pm local time.

“There’s a psychology to a 9pm kick-off,” she said.

“Sometimes the challenge is overeating, feeling sluggish because the only thing you do is eat all day, so you have to tailor it.

“We’ve done a lot of work in that space with individuals, to make sure they feel good going into the game when it’s that late.

“It can feel like a very long day when you’re waiting around all day and eating is one of the only things to do.”

 

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Ireland’s squad often enjoy a post-match beer, while players were pictured drinking wine during their time off after beating reigning world champions South Africa.

 

Asked about alcohol consumption, Gardner said: “We don’t have rules, we have standards and the lads know those standards. They create those standards.

“They’re very professional, they also need to look after their own bodies.

“They know the time when they can slightly relax.

“They can do that with food, they can do that if they want to have a drink but they also understand what’s ahead of them.”

Darcy Graham insisted Scotland are ready to “go to a dark place” as they bid to defy recent history in their mouth-watering qualification shootout with Ireland in Paris.

The Scots secured the bonus-point win they required against Romania with a 12-try, 84-0 destruction of the eastern European minnows.

To progress to the last eight Gregor Townsend’s side must defeat Ireland in next Saturday’s final Pool B fixture, either with a bonus point or by denying the world’s top-ranked side a losing bonus.

The Scots have won only one of the last 13 meetings between the sides and have lost the last eight, but Graham is adamant his team – ranked fifth in the world – are ready to dig deep for what would be one of the biggest wins in their history.

“It’s winner takes all, we want to get out of the group and they want to get out of the group so both teams will be going for it,” said the prolific Scotland wing. “It’s going to be a hell of a game.

“It’s do or die now, it’s pretty much a World Cup final for us. We’ll take huge confidence from Romania and now we need to get our preparation right.

“We’re going to have to go to a dark place but the boys are up for it. It’s an exciting week. There’s going to be massive support from Scotland and Ireland fans so there’s going to be a real buzz going into this game.”

In their last meeting in the Six Nations in March, Scotland led briefly in the first half and were within a point of the Irish until Andy Farrell’s men pulled away to win 22-7 at Murrayfield.

Scotland have shown for long periods of their three matches against France this year that they can live with the top teams in the world.

“We’ve got the capabilities to beat any team in the world but we have to get things right not just for 40 minutes or 60 minutes, but for 80 minutes,” Graham said.

“We have to take our opportunities when they come. We might only get two or three opportunities and we have to nail them.”

Graham’s four-try haul against Romania elevated him from sixth to joint-second on Scotland’s all-time try-scoring list. He is now level with Ian Smith and Tony Stanger on 24 and just three shy of record-holder Stuart Hogg, who retired this year on 27.

“Yeah, I’m closing in on it but I’ll get there when I get there,” he said. “I’ve added four on to my tally so I’m happy.”

Grant Gilchrist – who captained the Scots against Romania – has no doubt his long-time Edinburgh club-mate will soon break the record.

“If I was a betting man, I’d say yes,” said the lock.

“He was outstanding against Romania. I’ve played a lot of games with him for Scotland and Edinburgh and you know exactly what you’re going to get with him week in, week out.

“Some of the tries he scored were world-class, and I’m sure he’ll keep doing that as long as he plays.”

Scotland scored six tries in each half against Romania in a match that saw them fall just five points short of their record World Cup victory, 89-0 against the Ivory Coast in 1995.

Gilchrist said: “We knew we needed five points but we needed more than that, we needed a performance that was a step forward for us as a group, and I think we got that.

“We know everybody will big up next weekend, it’s huge. Our preparation will reflect that and we’ll give absolutely everything.”

Gareth Bale will boost the bid from the UK and Ireland to host Euro 2028 by joining the Welsh delegation in Geneva next month.

Bale, the Wales men’s team’s most capped player and record goalscorer, retired from football in January after an illustrious career that saw him win five Champions League titles and three FIFA Club World Cups at Real Madrid.

The 34-year-old has now offered a helping hand for Wales to become a Euro 2028 co-host alongside England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Republic of Ireland.

Turkey are also in the running to stage the tournament, with the final decision to be made in Geneva on October 10 when Bale will be present.

Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney said: “We are hoping for a successful bid and Gareth is very much part of the FAW and what we do. He has been identified as one of the faces of the bid presentation.

“Gareth is globally famous. You can get into a taxi in Sydney or Peru and if you mention you are from Wales they will say ‘Gareth Bale’. It is an instant reaction.

“When I go home to the west of Ireland the first thing people say to me is ‘how is Gareth Bale?’

“Gareth is so good for us. We went to him and asked him if he would get involved in the Euro ’28 bid and he just said: ‘What can I do for Wales?’

“It was instant – ‘how can I help you get the bid over the line?'”

Ten stadia across the five nations would host matches if the Euro 2028 bid is successful – Wembley, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Etihad Stadium, Everton’s new Bramley-Moore Dock Stadium, Villa Park and St James’ Park being the venues in England.

A redeveloped Casement Park in Belfast, the Dublin Arena in the Republic, Hampden Park in Scotland and the Principality Stadium in Wales – the 74,500-capacity home of Welsh rugby – would also stage matches.

The Principality Stadium would be referred to as the Cardiff National Stadium during the tournament due to UEFA rules over sponsorship.

Wales hope to stage as many as six matches if the bid is successful, with Mooney having said last October that Cardiff could be in line to stage the opening game of the tournament.

Mooney said: “Six games for Wales has been mentioned before, but it is ultimately up to UEFA to decide on the division of games, qualification from the five host nations and things like that.

“We’re lucky in that we have a fantastic stadium to offer in a magnificent city. Cardiff hosted a very successful Champions League final in 2017 and UEFA were very happy with it.

“But we feel we can get more out of hosting a series of games than from a stand alone match.

“There were tens of thousands of Spanish and Italian fans in Cardiff for Real Madrid against Juventus, and they all had a great time. But they were gone the next day.

“What the 2016 Euros did for France as a brand, and 2024 will do for Germany, was fantastic.

“The Covid-hit Euros weren’t the same and the World Cup in Qatar was a different experience.”

Mooney is confident that work on upgrading the Principality Stadium to meet UEFA standards will be completed should the bid from the UK and Ireland prove successful.

He said: “Cardiff Council and the Welsh Government are backing the bid and are happy with the projected return on investment.

“Millions of pounds will need to be spent on the Principality Stadium to get it up to scratch. It needs new floodlights and a scoreboard.

“There are also issues over hospitality numbers and the TV compound. But these are all things that will be resolved.”

Hugo Keenan hopes Ireland’s statement win against South Africa has eased “lurking” pressure of playing at Stade de France as they prepare for up to four more crunch World Cup fixtures at the venue.

Full-back Keenan revealed his partner thought he looked ill due to nerves ahead of Saturday’s thrilling 13-8 success over the reigning champions.

The 27-year-old’s only other Test outings in Paris ended in costly Six Nations defeats to France in 2020 and 2022.

 

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But Andy Farrell’s men ended their hoodoo at the home of French rugby to take control of Pool B moving towards a pivotal group-stage finale against Scotland on October 7.

 

Ireland’s World Cup destiny will be decided in Saint-Denis – the showdown with the Scots will also be staged there – in addition to each of their potential knockout matches, including the final.

Tournament debutant Keenan was riddled with anxiety at the prospect of arguably the biggest match of his career before helping to snap his country’s Paris losing streak.

“God, I was nervous, I met my girlfriend briefly (beforehand) and she thought I looked sick,” he said of facing the Springboks.

“I felt good once I got out there; it’s a pressure environment.

“Stade de France hasn’t been kind to us in the past. There’s a pressure lurking that we were keen personally and as a team from that loss to France last year to learn from.

“We’re just going to review this game and focus on Scotland; it’s the only thing we can control and we’re definitely not getting ahead of ourselves.”

Keenan’s second international cap was a 35-27 away loss to Les Bleus, which wiped Ireland out of title contention in the protracted 2020 Six Nations.

The Leinster player has been an almost ever-present since his Test debut and was part of the team ultimately denied a Grand Slam by a 30-24 defeat in the French capital in February last year.

While the second of those setbacks occurred in front of a partisan home crowd following a behind-closed-doors clash amid the coronavirus pandemic, Ireland were roared on to victory against the Springboks by tens of the thousands of travelling Irish fans.

“Jeez, that support was incredible,” said Keenan.

“The Irish crowd are amazing: the numbers, the amount of people who made the effort to get over here and support us – it made some difference.

“You need to harness it at the right times and I think the forwards did.

“I’m sure South Africa felt under the cosh at times when the 60-odd-thousand Irish fans are cheering for us, it does make a difference.

“There’s times you have to ignore it during play and just do your job, but you also have to embrace it and make the most of it.

“The walkaround after the game was incredibly special, I saw some familiar faces which makes it extra cool.”

First-choice Ireland hooker Dan Sheehan is raring to go for the remainder of the Rugby World Cup after declaring his body is in “perfect” condition.

Question marks initially surrounded Sheehan’s participation in the tournament after he limped off with a foot issue during his country’s warm-up win over England on August 19.

The 25-year-old sat out bonus-point wins over Romania and Tonga before making his World Cup debut as a second-half replacement during Saturday evening’s memorable Pool B triumph over South Africa in Paris.

 

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Fit-again Sheehan is targeting further action when Ireland return to Stade de France on October 7 seeking to secure progression to the knockout stages in a “massive” clash with Scotland.

“For a first experience of a World Cup game, it doesn’t get much better, I don’t think, especially in a crowd like that,” he said, after his side were backed by tens of thousands of Irish fans against the Springboks.

“It’s definitely the best atmosphere I’ve played in. We fed off that a good bit.

“My body’s perfect now. I had a few weeks there where the medical staff did a great job to get me back in this time but I’ve no complaints at all now so I’ll be looking to get back into the squad.”

Victory over South Africa put Ireland in control of Pool B and propelled them to the cusp of the quarter-finals.

Yet Andy Farrell’s men, who are due to reconvene on Wednesday following a few days off, still have work to do to prevent a pool-stage exit.

Asked how much pressure beating the reigning champions takes off the Scotland match, Sheehan replied: “None. The job’s not done.

“We have a bit of luxury now that we have two weeks to lead up into the Scotland game but we can’t afford to take the foot off the gas at all.

 

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“The Scotland game is going to be massive. That’s obviously a massive win for us but nothing’s guaranteed at all so all eyes on Scotland now.”

The world’s number one team have won 16 matches in a row and suffered just two defeats in their last 30 outings.

Sheehan believes the remarkable run of results have helped enhance the unity in Ireland’s camp but insists Farrell’s squad must remain grounded.

“I think all of these big games bring you closer,” said the Leinster player, who is competing with provincial team-mate Ronan Kelleher and Ulster’s Rob Herring for a starting spot. “They add to the trust within the group.

“It definitely brings you tighter but you need to make sure you don’t get ahead of yourself and there’s a job to be done now against Scotland.

“We’ve huge confidence in our game plan and our approach to the games is really good. Our week’s prep has been on point for every game that we’ve won.

“We just double down on what we’re good at. We’re in a good place now and we just need to keep going.”

Ireland fly-half Jack Crowley joked about spending his well-earned days off in Disneyland following the fairytale of sealing his country’s statement Rugby World Cup win against South Africa.

Test rookie Crowley capped a thrilling 13-8 victory over the reigning champions by calmly slotting a crucial late penalty after stepping off the bench to replace captain Johnny Sexton at Stade de France.

The 23-year-old was visiting Paris for the first time and had the chance to remain in the French capital for a brief escape from reality ahead of a turning his attention to a pivotal Pool B finale against Scotland on October 7.

Crowley, who expects the Scots to be “gunning” for Ireland, could not resist a light-hearted quip at the expense of his diminutive team-mate Craig Casey and some of the senior members of Andy Farrell’s squad, including 38-year-old Sexton, as he humorously imagined a group theme park visit.

“We have a few days off to recover because it has been a few intense weeks,” he said.

“(I’m going to) take it easy. Disneyland Paris! We have to get a pass for Craig though. There’s a few old-age pensioners as well. Yeah, maybe Disneyland, we’ll see.

“We go back in on Wednesday and the preparation begins for Scotland.

“I suppose they are going to grow throughout the competition, aren’t they?

“We have come against them in the Six Nations and they have been one the toughest competitors because of the way they play.

“Our eyes are firmly on them. I’m sure they will be gunning for us.”

Ireland led South Africa by just two points for the majority of a tense final quarter of Saturday’s epic encounter.

In front of massive Irish support, Crowley nailed a nerveless 77th-minute kick on the occasion of his eighth cap to alleviate mounting pressure before a heroic defensive effort secured success.

The Munster player revealed team-mate James Lowe was audibly counting down the seconds on the shot clock ahead of the conversion to eat into the time the Springboks would have to hit back.

He described the physicality of a bruising contest as “through the walls”, while playing down his “nice easy penalty” on an evening when the opposition’s wayward goal-kicking proved costly.

Speaking of his key contribution, which came four seconds inside the permitted time, Crowley said: “(It was) pretty special.

“When you’re sitting on the bench looking up at the clock as the time is dwindling away, you see the magnitude grow larger.

“It was a proper Test match. The physicality was through the walls.

“When you’re coming on you’ve got to know the magnitude of the game and the responsibility.

“I got a nice easy penalty in front of the posts. If I’d missed that I think you’d be saying a different story to me. But that’s the gig.”

While Ireland have a weekend off, South Africa face Tonga on Sunday with work to do.

Crowley suggested the world’s top two teams could meet again in the final at the end of next month.

“They’re a World Cup-winning side because they disrupt team’s plans,” he said.

“They play rugby the way they want to play and that’s how they won a World Cup just by doing that.

“We knew since we played them in November last year (a 19-16 win for Ireland) just what a challenge this was going to be.

“You’ve got to trust your plan and as a coaching staff and players we all bought into it and thankfully in the end we got the result but it’s not easy.

“And I’m sure we won’t see the last of them in the competition.”

Ireland emerged from a blockbuster win over South Africa with a clean bill of health but wary there are “big tests on the horizon” at the Rugby World Cup.

Andy Farrell’s men took control of Pool B with a stirring 13-8 defeat of the Springboks in Paris to put themselves on the brink of the quarter-finals.

Players will go their separate ways to enjoy a few days off following an unforgettable evening at a raucous Stade de France before reconvening to prepare to finish the job against Scotland on October 7.

Aside from some bruised bodies – and possibly a few sore heads – scrum coach John Fogarty confirmed the squad came through an intense contest relatively unscathed.

“We managed to come out of what was a really physical game with a full bill of health,” he said on Sunday.

“There’s medicals on now, but at this moment in time there’s no obvious injuries.”

Ireland saluted a phenomenal defensive effort with a lap of honour in front of tens of thousands of Irish fans in the French capital.

Asked about the subsequent celebrations, Fogarty said: “It is important to make sure we’re aware that that was a big win and we’re obviously delighted with it.

“We took time with each other, enjoyed company. Nothing too mad at all.

“The dressing room is generally the best craic, you’re there all together, there’s no outside distractions. We enjoyed that time together.

“It’s a late kick-off, we got back to the hotel around 1am so we didn’t do the dog on it, but we enjoyed each other’s company.”

Ireland backed up thumping bonus-point victories over Romania and Tonga by downing the defending champions to retain top spot in the world rankings.

But reaching the knockout stages and a probable showdown with either hosts France or three-time winners New Zealand is not yet guaranteed.

“We’re very proud of the result, we’re very proud of the performance,” continued Fogarty.

“But we’re very, very aware that that’s a pool game, we’ve got Scotland next and we’ve got big tests on the horizon.

“We’ve got a few days with family which is so important. I can’t wait to see my wife and kids. I’m sick of looking at the boys at this stage!

“We’ll certainly look at things we need to improve on but we need to get the recovery in now because Scotland are going to be coming.”

Back-rower Jack Conan, who suffered a foot injury in the warm-up win over Italy on August 5, versatile back Jimmy O’Brien and centre Stuart McCloskey are the only members of Farrell’s 33-man squad yet to feature in France.

The trio are in contention to take on Scotland.

“Jack had a brilliant week and took part in training,” said Fogarty.

“We’ve been very, very lucky with the health of the squad.

“Right now we look like we’ll be training with a full deck when we return, which is great.”

Johnny Sexton says beating defending champions South Africa is among Ireland’s best Rugby World Cup wins but insists his team must push on and “make it count”.

Andy Farrell’s men put one foot in the quarter-finals of the tournament by edging a classic Paris encounter 13-8 to register a 16th straight victory.

The world’s top-ranked team have a two-week break before returning to Stade de France to complete their Pool B fixtures against Scotland.

“I think we’ve had some big wins in pool stages before, that’s right up there,” said captain Sexton.

“When you play against the reigning world champions, it’s always going to be incredibly tough and it was.

“They didn’t let us down in terms of the physicality of the game but I thought we fronted up and gave some good stuff ourselves in that regard.

“Yeah, it’s right up there but we’ve got to make it count now.

“We’ve got some time off this week with the bye week, then we regroup and we’ve got to back it up against Scotland and make sure we do the business to get out of the pool.”

Mack Hansen’s first-half try, plus five points from the boot of Sexton and a late Jack Crowley penalty moved the Six Nations champions within touching distance of the knockout stages.

South Africa remained in contention until the final whistle through Cheslin Kolbe’s score and a Manie Libbok penalty but paid a heavy price for some wayward goal kicking.

Ireland were roared home by an estimated 30,000 Irish fans on an unforgettable evening in the French capital.

Veteran fly-half Sexton felt the “insane” support was a vital factor in securing a statement victory.

“We’ve had some big days before in terms of results in the pools but I’ve never ever seen a crowd like that,” said the 38-year-old.

“Someone said there was 30,000 fans but there was no way it was 30,000.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if there was 60,000 and they were insane throughout. They gave us the lift that we needed.

“Honestly, it’s not lost on us. We talk about it a lot, about inspiring those people that put their hand in their pocket week after week.

“They probably saved for four years to come here and it’s something we refer to all the time and I mean that.

“We play for them and they gave us the edge, fair play to them.”

Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi urged his side not to dwell on the disappointing result as they seek to bounce back in a crucial clash with Tonga.

“The intensity of the game was exactly what we needed for a lot of players that have never played at such intensity,” said the flanker.

“The whole atmosphere was amazing on the field but we know exactly what we need to do as a group.

“We’ve got to lift our heads, we’ve got a big game coming and if we dwell too much on what happened, we will forget to perform next week.

“We need to get through that one and then we can start thinking about afterwards. Tonga is an important game.”

Ireland propelled themselves to the cusp of the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a gripping 13-8 win over reigning champions South Africa on a raucous evening in Paris.

Mack Hansen’s try and five points from Johnny Sexton helped settle a thrilling clash between international rugby’s top two teams at a sold-out Stade de France.

Replacement fly-half Jack Crowley added a late penalty as Ireland stretched their winning run to 16 matches to take control of Pool B.

Andy Farrell’s men also retained top spot in the global rankings ahead of the defeated Springboks, who now have work to do against Tonga next week to avoid early elimination.

Cheslin Kolbe’s second-half try and a Manie Libbok penalty kept Jacques Nienaber’s side in contention before they ultimately fell short in a nail-biting finale.

Pre-match talk was dominated by South Africa’s bold call to name an imposing seven-one split of forwards and backs on their bench – a decision head coach Nienaber called a “calculated risk”.

Ireland impressively defused the so-called ‘Bomb Squad’ to bring the knock-out rounds within touching distance.

Both sides arrived in the French capital with back-to-back wins on the board.

An estimated 30,000 Irish fans were expected among a capacity crowd for one of the most eagerly-anticipated group-stage matches in World Cup history.

That approximate figure seemed on the low side amid deafening noise in Saint-Denis further fuelled by a frenetic start of big hits and end-to-end action.

Ireland initially began on the front foot but, following a bold decision to kick for the corner, failed to capitalise on a couple of promising line-outs before falling behind to a Libbok penalty.

The set-piece struggles persisted and only some dogged defensive work, including Bundee Aki’s crucial tackle on Jesse Kriel, stifled the Springboks.

Farrell’s men continued to show plenty of attacking enterprise and were rewarded in the 33rd minute when sustained pressure led to Hansen capping a sensational team move by crossing on the right.

Captain Sexton calmly slotted the extras to ensure the Six Nations champions ended a breathless opening period of ferocious physicality 7-3 ahead.

Ireland have had the upper hand in this fixture in recent times, including a 19-16 Dublin success in November, but South Africa – tournament winners in 1995, 2007 and 2019 – hold a vastly superior World Cup record.

The unrelenting pace resumed following the interval and, amid further line-out issues, Ireland’s deficit was almost cut to a single point when Faf de Klerk’s penalty from halfway struck a post.

Yet South Africa seized on the loose ball from that missed kick and penned back their opponents before Kolbe touched down on the left to put his side 8-7 in front.

Fly-half Libbok was off target with the conversion and Ireland snatched back the lead going into the final 20 minutes thanks to a Sexton penalty.

South Africa turned to their stacked bench, including introducing Jean Kleyn, who represented Ireland at the last World Cup, in a bid to make the difference.

Irish indiscipline was in danger of proving expensive, with those in green relieved to see Libbok and then De Klerk squander further penalties.

The Springboks enjoyed the better territory and possession in the second period.

But Ireland, helped over the line by three points from Crowley, doggedly hung on to make a major statement moving towards their Pool B finale against Scotland in a fortnight’s time, while leaving the title holders with plenty to ponder.

England’s next generation offered a promising glimpse of their white-ball future as Will Jacks, Sam Hain and Rehan Ahmed all starred in a 48-run win over a full-strength Ireland.

Jacks’ 94 off 88 balls contained seven fours and four sixes, contrasting with a more understated 89 off 82 deliveries from Hain, but the duo underpinned England’s 334 for eight in the second Metro Bank ODI.

Teenage leg-spinner Ahmed collected four for 54 as Ireland were all out for 286 in 46.4 overs at Trent Bridge against England’s understudies, for whom Phil Salt was the most experienced in his 15th ODI.

Ahead of this de facto series opener after a washout at Headingley earlier this week, England’s XI contained a combined 38 ODI appearances – compared with Ireland’s 720 – as the hosts made use of their deep pool of reserves, with their World Cup stars resting ahead of travelling to India next week.

Hain took top billing among the four England debutants but George Scrimshaw had fluctuating fortunes, bowling six front foot no-balls in his first two overs before rebounding with figures of 8.4-0-66-3.

Jamie Smith and Tom Hartley had more modest outings but this was still an impressive display amid an expected changing of the guard after the World Cup, while Jacks’ dazzling innings may have given the selectors a nudge about being on standby should injury befall the main group in the subcontinent.

Tipped as the successors to Jason Roy and Alex Hales, Jacks and Salt paid a fitting tribute to the pair who revolutionised opening the batting for England in the shorter formats, feasting on Ireland’s fruitless pursuit of early swing with a rash of fours to bring up the 50 stand in the sixth over.

Jacks sumptuously drove the expensive Josh Little for three successive fours but Craig Young found a better length, drawing the splice of Salt’s bat on 28 before stand-in captain Zak Crawley was lbw for a two-ball duck in his first England innings since leading their run-charts in this summer’s Ashes.

England ended the powerplay with Jacks dismissively swiping Barry McCarthy for six as he and Ben Duckett steadily rebuilt from Young’s double strike.

Put down on 44, Jacks went to fifty in style by clearing extra cover off Andy McBrine, who also went the distance off Duckett.

Fellow spinner Dockrell had more luck as Duckett paddled to short fine-leg on 48 to end a run-a-ball 102-run stand with Jacks, who slog swept the slow left-armer for his fourth six to move into the 90s.

Attempting a repeat to reach three figures in Dockrell’s next over, Jacks top-edged to Andy Balbirnie, who took a steepler a few feet in from the deep midwicket boundary.

England added just 140 in the final 20 overs but 15 of those came with Hain as the only frontline batter left after Smith holed out.

Hain, whose List A average of 57.96 is the second highest ever, had a single from his first 11 balls and was put down by a diving Harry Tector from his 12th but he gradually started to find rhythm.

Hain used his feet well to offset the bowlers’ lengths in an unobtrusive 52-ball fifty and while there were few big hits – he managed just eight fours in total – he was responsible for England going past 300. Needing 11 off the last over for his century, he miscued McCarthy to mid-off.

While England had their highest score in ODIs against Ireland, the tourists were aided by Scrimshaw’s repeated front-foot faults.

There were four no-balls in his first over in an England shirt and two, plus a wide, in his next as he leaked an eye-watering 35 having sent down just 11 legal deliveries.

When he drew Balbirnie’s outside edge with his 12th, Scrimshaw forlornly turned round to Rod Tucker after Ben Duckett snaffled the chance but the umpire gave a thumb’s up and patted him on his shoulder.

From the next ball, Paul Stirling, whose 250 List A appearances before Saturday was just 29 fewer than England’s XI combined, chopped on for 25 off 17 balls after Matthew Potts found lavish inward movement.

Ireland were up with the rate but wickets fell at regular intervals, with Ahmed into the act when the dangerous Tector was out for 39 after skewing to a backtracking Jacks.

Googlies from Ahmed snared McBrine and Mark Adair, while the youngest member of England’s XI had his fourth from his penultimate delivery as Dockrell clothed another wrong’un to Salt.

From 188 for eight, England were unable to finish proceedings quickly as Ireland’s last three batters McCarthy (41), Young (40 not out) and Little (29) all recorded ODI bests. But Scrimshaw took the final wicket as Little slammed to long-on to banish thoughts of a remarkable Ireland comeback.

Andy Farrell believes the rest of the world expects Ireland to lose to South Africa and insists the mouthwatering Paris showdown is not a “do-or-die” fixture.

Test rugby’s top-ranked nation face a stern examination of their World Cup credentials as they prepare to put their 15-match winning run on the line against the formidable reigning champions in Pool B’s headline clash.

The physical Springboks have made a statement of intent by naming an imposing seven-one split of forwards and backs on the bench.

Ireland head coach Farrell talked down the significance of that tactical decision and urged his players to focus on their own performance in their bid to defy the bookmakers and their doubters at Stade de France.

“It doesn’t really bother me at all,” the Englishman said of South Africa’s so-called ‘Bomb Squad’. “It’s just about us.

“We have to be good, we have to play really well to beat the world champions.

“And rightly so because they’re in good form and, barring us and our team, our management and the Irish people all over the world, I think everyone else thinks that they’re the favourites and they’re going to win this game.

“I can see why because of the form that they’ve showed in the last couple of games but we don’t think like that. We’re ready for a tough battle and it will take it’s own course, I’m sure.

“It’s not a must-win. It’s not a do-or-die type of game but it’s pretty important to both teams, let’s put it that way.”

Ireland have the chance to qualify for the quarter-finals with a game to spare following crushing bonus-point victories over Romania and Tonga.

Farrell’s men have won 27 of their last 29 Test matches, including beating the Springboks 19-16 in Dublin last autumn.

Yet one of the two defeats during the remarkable run of form came in Paris – a 30-24 loss to France in last year’s Six Nations.

“Our journey’s had all sorts and it prepares you for games like this,” continued Farrell. “I suppose we’ll learn a bit more after this one as well.

“There will be over 30,000 Irish supporters there in a stadium we know well and we want to get back there and get back to winning ways there.

“It’s a challenge that we’re ready for, looking forward to, and it’s coming soon.”

Scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park replaces Conor Murray in the only change to Ireland’s starting XV, while first-choice hooker Dan Sheehan is in line for his World Cup debut after being named on the bench following a foot injury.

Captain Johnny Sexton wants to reward the travelling fans with another statement win after thousands of green jerseys flooded Bordeaux and Nantes on the previous two weekends.

“I don’t think I’ve played a game here where we’ll have the majority of the support,” said the 38-year-old, who will partner the returning Gibson-Park.

“The support we get for World Cups in particular, it’s incredible.

“Last week in the stadium there was just green everywhere, the week before the same, and I’m sure it will be the same again.

“So it’s hats off to the people that put their hand in their pocket and come over.

“It means a lot to us and we hope we give them something to cheer about.

“We’re going to have to be in top form to get a result.”

Joe Root’s hopes of a final World Cup warm-up at Headingley were washed out after the first match of their Metro Bank Series against Ireland was abandoned due to concerns over the bowlers’ run-ups.

Root had requested to play at his home ground – the only member of the tournament team to feature in what was essentially a second string – after struggling for form in the recent clashes with New Zealand, but saw his hopes of a confidence-boosting innings dashed.

The match was officially abandoned at 4.50pm – more than four hours and several inspections after the scheduled start time – with rain having wrecked bowlers’ approach at the Kirkstall Lane End.

When the decision was finally made by umpires Mike Burns and Adrian Holdstock the skies had been dry for the best part of three hours, usually enough time to complete the mopping up work.

But, while the main covers successfully protected the pitch itself, groundstaff were unable to protect an area of the square that is seen as a non-negotiable in terms of player safety. Questions over how and why such an important area of the pitch was left unfit for play will surely be raised, with the quality of covers and drainage among the issues ripe for exploration.

England captain Zak Crawley, who was due to lead his country for the first time, was frustrated by the lack of action but accepted that conditions were not playable for international cricket.

“I was very disappointed we didn’t get a game on. It was just the run-up at one end, really. It wasn’t fit for play and I think that was probably right in the end,” he said.

“You’ve got guys tearing in there and you don’t want them not performing at their best, that’s not what people come to see. I think as soon as there’s any doubt, they probably made the right decision.

“It was very wet and would have churned up if we’d played on it. It wouldn’t have been fit for the bowlers. We were unlucky with the weather leading into the game and then rain all this morning as well. I’m not sure there’s anymore the groundsmen could have done, they worked very hard to try and get the game on.”

Crawley suggested a place would be held open for Root in the second match at Trent Bridge on Saturday, but the expectation is that he will now join the remaining members of the World Cup squad in returning home and enjoying some down time before a gruelling seven-week tournament.

“I think he’s going to rest now before the World Cup. That was his plan before, anyway,” said Crawley.

“I’m not certain, but if he wants to have a bat that’s his decision, of course.”

Around 10,000 paying fans were left disappointed by their day, with a further 4,000 tickets estimated to have been distributed via local clubs and schools.

Whether a more creative solution might have been available is something of a moot point given the strict playing conditions which govern international cricket, with Crawley unmoved by the idea of completing a 20-over match from just one end or using a reserve pitch at short notice.

“That’s a tough one. You don’t want to lose what the game is, changing the rules too much,” he said.

“You don’t want to make it too different from what the game usually is. I supposed there are some things we could do in the future but for now I’m not sure there’s anything they could have done.”

Joe Root’s hopes of a final World Cup warm-up were ruined by the rain as England’s first Metro Bank ODI against Ireland was abandoned without a ball bowled.

With the first-choice squad all rested ahead of next week’s departure for India, Root requested to be added to the team for the series opener at his home ground of Headingley.

He had endured four lean matches against New Zealand and was keen to find some rhythm before the tournament but persistent showers washed the match out at 4.50pm, more than four hours after the scheduled start.

The umpires were unhappy with saturated areas on the outfield, which were seen as a potential safety concern, while there were also worries about the bowlers’ run-ups.

Ireland must be adaptable and prepared to grind out an “ugly” win against reigning world champions South Africa, according to defence coach Simon Easterby.

Andy Farrell’s men head to Paris for the standout fixture in Pool B seeking to secure a spot in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a fixture to spare.

Ireland have won 27 of their last 29 Tests after beginning the tournament with thumping bonus-point victories over Romania and Tonga and have often entertained during that remarkable run of results.

The world’s top-ranked nation will once again look to deliver their easy-on-the-eye style on Saturday evening at Stade de France.

Yet Easterby accepts that may not be possible for the full 80 minutes against a physical Springboks side sporting an intimidating seven-one split of forwards and backs among their replacements.

“We know that when we play well and we play a certain way that we’re going to be difficult to play against and difficult to beat,” he said.

“We’ll be looking to implement a lot of the stuff that you’ll have seen over the last couple of years in what we do on Saturday as we have tried to do in the Tonga and Romania games.

“We haven’t had to win ugly maybe too many times.

“It would be great if we could throw the ball around and score plenty of tries, but we know that we have to do things in the moment and make sure we’re adaptable and that might mean playing certain ways in certain parts of the game.”

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber made a statement of intent on Tuesday afternoon when announcing a stacked bench containing just one back, scrum-half Cobus Reinach.

Easterby admits the bold selection is a talking point, but does not change Ireland’s approach.

“Every team has a particular strategy and it’s up to them to believe that that strategy is the right thing for each game,” he said.

“Obviously, they believe that’s the way they need to set themselves to beat us on Saturday, just like we’ll be playing the way we want to beat South Africa.

“Listen, it’s a talking point. I don’t think it changes anything for us, to be honest.

“What will determine it in the end is hindsight, which will allow everyone to say it was the right or wrong thing to do. It’s their strategy and not something that we can control.”

Every member of Ireland’s 33-man squad has trained this week at their base in Tours.

Hooker Dan Sheehan (foot) and prop Finlay Bealham (head injury assessment) are in contention to feature against the Springboks.

But number eight Jack Conan (foot) may have to wait until the Scotland game on October 7 for his first outing since August 5.

“Everyone trained really well today,” said Easterby. “Probably Jack’s the only one that’s slightly behind in terms of being able to get himself right for this weekend.

“He’s done incredibly well, as have the medics, conditioners to get him up to speed.

“He’s actually probably on track from where we thought he’d be, so he’s done really well, happy with his progress.

“Finlay and Dan both trained really well today, so they’re back in the mix.”

Caelan Doris admits to initially being shocked by the sheer size of the South Africa team but insists facing the fearsome might of the so-called ‘Bomb Squad’ will not significantly alter Ireland’s game plan.

Back-rower Doris will take on the Springboks for only the second time in his career in Saturday evening’s crunch Rugby World Cup showdown in Paris.

The 25-year-old helped Ireland register a 19-16 win over the reigning world champions in November following a bruising Dublin encounter in which he was taken aback by the hefty bulk of the opposition.

The Springboks will again look to impose brute strength on Andy Farrell’s men after naming a six-two split of forwards and backs on their bench for this weekend’s pivotal Pool B clash at Stade de France.

Asked what distinguishes South Africa from other sides, Doris replied: “Physicality is the word that comes to mind.

“I remember being shocked at just the sheer size of them, playing them in November.

“They kind of do a six-two or even seven-one sometimes off the bench and have massive reinforcements coming off the bench as well.

“But it’s definitely not the only string to their bow. They’ve got a lot of pace in their backs and their forwards are capable of keeping the ball alive and offloading.

“Obviously the physicality is tied into their set-piece, they’ve got a great maul, great lineout options as well, a very strong lineout and scrum as well, so getting those areas right is going to be big.”

Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, who was then head coach, adopted the stacked bench tactic during his side’s run to lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in 2019.

Doris insists Ireland will not be deviating from the approach which has brought 15 successive Test wins.

“It doesn’t actually change too much,” he said.

“We talk about delivering an 80-minute performance regardless of who we are playing and knowing that some teams target the last 20 minutes.

“We also speak of our bench coming on and not just fitting in but actually taking it up a level. That will be important for us this weekend.”

Ireland, who have topped the Test rankings for more than a year, can seal progression to the World Cup quarter-finals with success in the French capital.

Doris feels better equipped to deal with the pressures of performing in front of a capacity Stade de France crowd than during last year’s Six Nations when Farrell’s men suffered a 30-24 loss to France.

“There’s so much belief amongst this group and there’s belief that we can still get a lot better,” he said.

“Delivering that in such a big game in Paris in front of 80,000 people – hopefully there will be a lot of Irish there – is just about constantly getting better as a group and believing that we can improve quite a bit.

“We are always striving for the perfect performance.”

Referring to the 2022 defeat to Les Bleus, he continued: “From the warm-up there was a palpable intensity in the atmosphere from the French in particular, drums banging and stuff like that.

“Having experienced it once, it is an easier thing to visualise and be aware of. It will be a little bit less of a shock for me.”

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