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by Rugby4Cast / 08th January 2019

Rugby World Cup Cycles Analysis – Ireland

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The mighty Irish beat all comers last year, and are many people’s tip to take the World Cup this year in Japan. How are they looking in comparison to previous years? Let’s have a look and see…

Ireland’s Win Percentages

The below graph shows yearly win percentage for Ireland versus the eventual winner in each World Cup cycle.
Therefore, the 4 yellow bars on the far left denote Australia’s win percentage for the years leading up to their World Cup win in 1999 (so the left most bar is their win percentage in 1996, the next 1997, then 1998, and finally 1999). The grey bars in the 2003 cycle are England’s winning percentage in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. The dark green are South Africa’s 2007 cycle and the black bars show New Zealand 2011 and 2015 World Cup cycles. The orange bars on the far right in the 2019 cycle show the average win percentage for a World Cup winner, as we don’t yet know the winner of the 2019 World Cup.
The light green bars in the below graph represent Ireland’s win percentage in each of the years of these World Cup cycles. So it can be read that last year (2018) Ireland averaged just over a 90% win rate in all their matches. Impressive stuff.

Ireland’s World Cup Performances

  • 1999 – Quarter Final (knocked out by Argentina).
  • 2003 – Quarter Final (knocked out by France).
  • 2007 – Eliminate at group stages.
  • 2011 – Quarter Final (knocked out by Wales).
  • 2015 – Quarter Final (knocked out by Argentina).

Conclusions

So what can be read from the above? Well, it’s pretty obvious that Ireland have had a good couple of years, and this clearly backs that up. 2018 was Ireland’s best ever year since the World Cup began, and this cycle has been their most successful ever. An excellent start for any Irish thinking about World Cup glory. However, there are a couple of other things to note…

  • Ireland went in to the last World Cup with the best win percentage (90%) – above that of eventual winners New Zealand. However, they were knocked out rather convincingly in the quarter final by Argentina 43 – 20. It could be argued that 2014 is a little misleading however, as their year 1 and year 2 were very poor (both below 40%). Perhaps therefore, Ireland were not as good as their stats suggest.
  • Ireland in their 2003 cycle had a very consistent win percentage (generally above 70%). In year 3 they were just below the 80% win ratio that we tend to see for most World Cup winners. However, they were eliminated again at the quarter final stage, this time by France, 43 –  21.

Ireland are a rather hard team to analyse as their World Cup performances are very consistent, seemingly regardless of their performances leading up. Clearly the World Cup is a very different beast to most, where one bad game can potentially lead to the end of the tournament. Ireland are in the best position they ever have been, but now must execute when it matters most: in the knockout stages of a World Cup.

World Cup Draw

[Group A: Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Russia, Samoa]
Ireland will feel confident of qualifying top of their group given their recent form and the quality of their opposition. Assuming they qualify first, they will likely meet South Africa in the quarter finals, which will be a tough game, but given they have beaten them three times from the last five, including one away win in Cape Town, they will feel they have a good chance of going further. In the semi finals they will likely face England, Australia or Wales, again all teams they have beaten recently. And in the final would likely await an All Black side hungry for revenge …
A truly salivating prospect. Not an easy draw at all. Good luck to them.
 
Did you like this? Please see our overall World Cup team analysis here, and watch out for other teams when they become available.

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