Ireland to return to scene of 2007 nightmare for World Cup 2023 opener

Ireland play a European qualifier in the city where Eddie O’Sullivan’s 2007 squad’s World Cup dreams unravelled
Ireland to return to scene of 2007 nightmare for World Cup 2023 opener

Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan after defeat to Argentina at the 2007 Rugby World Cup

Ireland are set for a return to Bordeaux when their World Cup 2023 campaign kicks off against a European qualifier with Friday’s match schedule announcement providing a blockbuster opening match with hosts France meeting New Zealand.

Ireland’s Pool B campaign gets underway against the Europe 2 qualifier, possibly Russia with Georgia likely to claim the Europe 1 spot at Stade de Bordeaux on September 9, 2023, in the city where Eddie O’Sullivan’s 2007 squad’s World Cup dreams unravelled as their base camp in that ill-fated pool campaign.

Tier 1 opposition does not appear until later in the pool schedule with Andy Farrell’s men facing Asia/Pacific 1 opponents in their second match a week later, September 16 in Nantes, another Ligue 1 stadium at Stade de la Beaujoire. That could be against Samoa or Tonga with Fiji having already qualified.

Next up are the world champions, South Africa, as Ireland move to Paris and the first of two fixtures at Stade de France. The Springboks, coached by former Munster defence coach Jacques Nienaber, face Ireland on September 23.

World Rugby’s decision to include greater rest for players between games means Ireland will have two weeks to prepare for their final pool game when they return to Stade de France to face Six Nations rivals Scotland on October 7.

There are just seven days until a potential quarter-final, most likely against either of Pool A big guns New Zealand or France, with Ireland set to remain at Stade de France should they qualify for the knockout stages. If they top Pool B they will face the Pool A runners-up on Saturday, October 14, with the alternative outcome, as runners-up playing the following day at the same venue.

Both semi-finals will also be at Stade de France on October 20/21 with the final on October 27. Kick-off times have not yet been confirmed.

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