Ireland come into the Rugby World Cup on a high, retaining their rating of Number One in the World. But for many teams, it’s been a slightly scrappy lead into this world cup in the Autumn Series, with either under performance from the first-tier teams, or lack of discipline or through injury – and despite Ireland having won their last 14 games, they are not outright favourites to win the RWC. But for many a Northern Hemisphere Rugby Fan, they are hoping for an Ireland vs France Final. 

The men in green have never made it beyond the quarter final stage of a RWC – but they are hoping to correct this in France this Autumn. If they do win, it will be only the second time a Northern Hemisphere team have lifted the Webb Ellis trophy (after England in 2003).

The good news is that their talisman, Johnny Sexton is back from a three-match ban, that saw him miss the warmup matches in August. Inspirational, experienced and an outstanding player, it must be an underlying concern to Head Coach Andy Farrell, that so much focus in on one player – an obvious target to all opposing teams, lets hope that Sexton avoids injury.

Ireland are always a delight to watch, playing with self-belief and verve – a great team across the board, sadly missing the excellent Cian Healy and also Cian Prendergast, through injury.  

Captain: Johnny Sexton

Player to Watch: Tadgh Furlong for sheer stability and James Lowe for some exciting fleet of foot moments on the wing. 

For more information on Irish Rugby

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What to Eat & Drink whilst watching Ireland

Food: With that “soft” weather that Ireland enjoys, this results in some luscious pasture so great feed for cattle but also wonderful dairy products. Thick Irish cream is a glory to see – and when converted in cheese….! Ireland has enjoyed a real foodie revolution, perhaps inspired by the success of Ballymalloe cookery school. But throughout the country and especially around Cork and out to the West coast, is a large number of small independent producers of everything from the wonderful people at who not only make amazing cheese but also rather moreish chorizo as well. Or take a look at who smoke just about everything from duck to chicken. 

One of the easiest things to make is soda bread – and very quick as well with no kneading– so have a go (see  ready to enjoy with an Irish Cheese platter. As well as the delicious Gubbeen above -, look out for goats cheese from, add some sweet Cashel Blue (heavenly with a slice of pear) and why not add in some cheese made from coastal grazing cows – 

A great one for finger food during the match is the delicious Clonakility Black Pudding – simply heat through and chop into small rings.

Colcannon is a main stay of Irish pub food – and is a glorious way to enjoy mashed potato with lightly boiled cabbage mixed through (needs lots of butter and cream – or make Champ with spring onions not cabbage). For match day ease – prepare in advance, make into small patties and pan fry  in advance– warm through for the match – in the style of a potato Boxty.

With apologies for our Celtic friends in Scotland but some of the most delicious smoked Salmon comes from the Emerald Isle. Cold Smoked with seaweed from the team at Burren Smokehouse is irresistible. Serve simply with warm soda bread, some butter from and heaven!

When talking to an Irish friend – he was horrified at talking about Irish food without talking about bacon & cabbage. A good solid warming dish – apparently the key is cooking the cabbage in the water the bacon (pork) was cooked in.  I did start musing how I could make this more match day friendly to eat – perhaps using the cabbage as leaves to wrap small cigar shapes stuffed with the pork – but the look I got from a usually easy going Irish man convinced me that traditional it is!

For snacks of course if you don’t have time for any of the above – well it can only be one thing – Tayto – the Irish Crisp!


Beer: Guinness. The Black Stuff.  Enough said – well not quite. (Though I’ve yet to meet a rugby supporter who does not say yes to a pint of it whilst watching rugby), there are other Irish beers out there.  I don’t just mean Murphys or Beamish – good though they are too.  Or maybe Kilkenny red ale.  There is a booming Craft Brewing industry in Ireland – in 2012 there were just 15 breweries in Ireland, today there are over 75, with a great range of diverse styles.  

Do look out for the following:

Galway Hooker – perennially popular and one of Irelands original craft ale – sold on tap and in bottles.

Leann Folliain  from O’Hara- looking to topple Guinness in the stout taste stakes – there are coffee & chocolate aromas in this smooth newcomer.

The Hurler from 4 Provinces inspired by the brewers love of Hurling, this unfiltered copper ale comes from Dublin.

Reel Deel from County Mayo feature an Irish Blond

For more information, check out the Irish equivalent of Camra –

Wine: Now you’d be telling me that there is no wine produced in Ireland – well it is an officially listed wine producing country – but there are only a handful of small estates, some around County Cork and one just outside Dublin whose annual production is just several hundred bottles 

However, there is a group of Wine makers scattered around the world referred to as “Wine Geese” (or Wild Geese by some). Named after the Wild Geese exodus of Irish soldiers to France in 17th Century and today represents Irish families who are involved in wine making around the world. The most known are two families who went to Bordeaux – the Lynchs and the Bartons and went onto to become Leoville-Barton, today owned by the very hospitable Barton family, and Ch. Lynch-Bages on Bordeaux’s Left Bank. There are a host of other Bordeaux Chateau with Iris ancestry including Chateaux: Kirwan, Phelan-Segur, Margaux, Clark and Dillon.

But other Irish families emigrated even further and Australia, the US, Chile and South Africa also have their fair share of these Wine Geese. See the links below.

I am not suggesting that you open a bottle of Chateau Margaux (at about £600 a bottle) whilst watching the match  – but do look at the web links to a range of these below – and to find their wines in the UK try All of the Bordeaux Chateaux have multiple outlets in the UK so look at a Wine Broker like


United States


South Africa

Whiskey:  And should you need something to ether celebrate or commiserate at the end of the match then look for a small glass of Irish Whisky such as  or or or for a small distillery from Ireland’s South West Coast –