World Rugby

Ireland vs Romania Preview: Ireland To Start Rugby World Cup With A Bang

Ireland vs Romania Preview: Ireland To Start Rugby World Cup With A Bang

Ireland vs Romania Rugby World Cup 2023 preview - uncover key matchups and insights as the teams are officially announced ahead of Saturday's match.

Sep 7, 2023 by Philip Bendon
Ireland vs Romania Preview: Ireland To Start Rugby World Cup With A Bang

The World’s number one ranked team, Ireland, tackles number nineteen ranked Romania in what will be a sweltering hot Bordeaux to get their World Cup campaigns underway.

On a historic run of thirteen consecutive victories, Andy Farrell’s Ireland are among the favourites to lift the William Webb Ellis trophy at the end of October. 

Romania, on the other hand, came into the tournament on a tough run and, as such, are the biggest underdog in round one. 

Team News

Farrell has gone for the rugby equivalent of a pick’n’mix as he sprinkles in several first-string players with wider squad players. 

Headlining the starters is captain Jonathan Sexton, who will play in his first match since Ireland’s Six Nations Grand Slam sealing victory over England on March 18th

Sexton, who has now served his ban following a verbal altercation with referee Jaco Peyper at the conclusion of this year’s Champions Cup final, will be itching to get some match minutes ahead of the great challenges to come. 

Elsewhere, Hugo Keenan, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe and Jamison Gibson-Park all return in a new look backline from the one that started against Samoa in the last warm-up fixture. 

In the pack, the changes continue as Munster duo Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Beirne start in the backrow alongside Caelen Doris, whilst World Player Of The Year Josh van der Flier is on the bench. 

One step forward, exciting young secondrow powerhouse Joe McCarthy starts alongside the experienced James Ryan in a dynamic locking partnership. 

Finally, Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter start in the prop positions whilst Rob Herring gets the nod at Hooker. 

Romania have picked as strong a team as possible for the clash, with New Zealand-born centre Jason Tomane getting the start. 

Alongside Tomane in the playmaking axis will be flyhalf Hinckley Vaovasa; the 24-year-old will partner Timișoara Saracens scrumhalf Garbiel Rupanu. 

Key Match-Up  

For Romania to not only cause Ireland issues but simply keep this scoreline respectable, they will need to bring a physical edge that offsets their more experienced opponents.

Traditionally a strong point of their team, the pack will need to contain the pace and power of what is one of the best packs in international rugby. 

If the combination of Hartig, Cojocaru and Gordas can get stuck into Furlong, Herring and Porter, it will go a long way to limiting the clean ball the Irish backs work so well from. 


In reality, there is only one team in this clash, and for the Romanians, it will be a case of stopping Ireland from putting up a record score. 

As is the way with any international sporting tournament of this level, there is a major gap between the true minnows and the powerhouses. 

Ireland will use this match as a training run as they build up through their mightily challenging pool. 

With that in mind, they will be met with some resistance to start but will ultimately rack up plenty of points and get their World Cup off on a good note. Ireland by 65+.

Ireland vs Romania Line-Ups

Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Jonathan Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson Park, 8 Caelen Doris, Peter O’Mahony, Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan, Joe McCarthy, Tadhg Furlong, Rob Herring, Andrew Porter 

Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Robbie Henshaw 

Romania: 15 Marius Simonescu, 14 Nicholas Onutu, 13 Fonovai Tangimana, 12 Jason Tomane, 11 Tevita Manumua, 10 Hinckley Vaovasa, 9 Gabriel Rupanu, 8 Cristian Chirca, 7 Vlad Neculau, 6 Florian Rosu, 5 Stefan Iancu, 4 Adrian Motoc, 3 Alexandru Gordas, 2 Ovidiu Cojocaru, 1 Iulian Hartig 

Replacements: Florin Bardasu, 17 Alexandru Savin, 18 Gheorghe Gajion, 19 Marius Iftimiciuc, 20 Dragos Ser, 21 Alin Conache, 22 Tudor Boldor, 23 Taylor Gontineac