The 2019 Rugby World Cup pool stage came to an end today and with it some bad news for Ireland. Japan's sensational 28-21 victory over Scotland means that we finish second in Pool A and face a daunting meeting with holders New Zealand next Saturday.
Of course, we did beat the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium last November but our fortunes have taken a turn somewhat since that memorable evening. A mediocre Six Nations campaign was followed by a defeat to hosts Japan in our second World Cup game but we did put in an improved performance in yesterday's win over Samoa.
Ireland have never gotten past the quarter-final stage, most recently falling to Argentina at that hurdle in 2015, and next week's match against New Zealand is bound to be as tough as anything Joe Schmidt's men have faced before.
Ireland against New Zealand will kick off at 11.15am on Saturday October 19 and the quarter-final line-up will be completed throughout the weekend by England v Australia (Saturday 8.15am), Wales v France (Sunday 8.15am) and Japan v South Africa (Sunday 8.15am).
(header pic: Irish Rugby)