Rugby is a massive sport across Ireland and one that regularly sparks passionate debate among fans. One thing all Irish rugby lovers can agree on though is how exciting the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France will be. Starting on September 8, 2023, this will be the 10th World Cup in men’s rugby union, with matches taking place at nine venues across the country.
As the top-ranked team in rugby union right now, Ireland are coming into the tournament with high expectations. But lifting the trophy will be no easy task. In order to advance to the knockout stage, Ireland must finish first or second in their qualifying pool, which includes South Africa, Scotland, Tonga and Romania.
The Irish start off their World Cup journey on September 9 in Bordeaux against Romania, which looks on paper to be their easiest assignment. But how might this game pan out?
Ireland vs Romania – what do the bookies say?
Betting on sports is just as popular in Ireland as it is in the rest of the world. People around the Emerald Isle regularly sign up with the best Irish bookies in 2023 to bet on tournaments like the Rugby World Cup. As well as giving people somewhere convenient and safe to gamble on upcoming matches, bookmakers are also a good gauge of how any game might go. So what do the bookies think about Ireland vs Romania?
It is not surprising that all bookies have Ireland as the heavy favourites to win. Although this is only a guide as to what could happen, the confidence bookmakers are showing in an Ireland triumph is telling.
Ireland look to have the edge
It is not just the odds being given on an Irish win which suggest this is the most likely outcome. A deeper look into this clash leaves little doubt that it will end in a routine win for Andy Farrell’s men.
As previously noted, Ireland are the number one team in rugby union currently and have a world-class squad of players to call on. This includes star men such as Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, Keith Earls and Peter O’Mahony. Ireland just look too strong for Romania and should have more than enough talent to beat them.
It is also key to look at the exciting blend of youth and experience in the Irish squad for this tournament. Icons like Sexton and Murray bring a wealth of top-level knowledge with them and know what it’s like to play on the biggest stage. When you combine that with the energy World Cup debutants like James Lowe or Dan Sheehan offer, you can see that this is a side which Romania may struggle to handle.
It also means coach Farrell has plenty of options to change things up should the match not play out as initially planned.
Six Nations triumph and recent form will help Ireland
It might be regarded as an understatement to say that Farrell’s troops have been in impressive form leading up to the World Cup. They triumphed in the 2023 Six Nations, and continued their form with a run of wins in August. With this build-up, the team will go into the game against Romania full of confidence and expecting to win.
An Irish victory also looks likely when you look at how the side plays and the masterful set-piece tactics that coach Farrell employs. Along with a hard-hitting defence, the expansive nature of the Irish attacking play should be too much for Romania to cope with. With Sexton pulling the strings, the speed and precision of the Irish attack should see them steamroller their opposition.
Romania – do they have a chance?
There is always the chance of shock results happening in sport ‒ who could forget Japan’s stunning 34-32 victory over South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup? So it is not out of the question that Romania might get something from this match.
Johnny Sexton’s recent three-match ban means he missed Ireland’s warm-up matches, so he may be a little rusty for this opener. If Farrell selects a lot of younger players with little or no World Cup experience, the occasion may get to them and give Romania a chance to win. Opening-game nerves could also come into play – if Romania handle theirs better, then they could go on to clinch a surprise victory.
To stand any chance in this match though, the Romanians will have to be on top form and hope their key players step up to the mark. Fullback Marius Simionescu is perhaps most important and he must be at his best to help drive his team on.
As Romania’s game is mostly built around a tight defence, this will also be crucial if they are to get anything out of their opening clash. It is hard to see Romania having the creativity or set-piece brilliance to trouble Ireland though.
Ireland vs Romania – World Cup 2023 preview
The simple fact is that Ireland go into this game as heavy favourites and expecting to win. Their experience and class should be too much for a Romanian side ranked 19th in the world.
When you also consider that Ireland have beaten Romania in all their previous World Cup games and that Romania have lost 22 out of 28 World Cup matches previously, the omens look good for Andy Farrell’s men. The only way Romania have any chance of success is if Ireland do not turn up on the day or let opening-game nerves derail their performance.