Rugby World CupAll You Need To Know Guide

Ireland v Romania: Kick-off time, TV channel and team news ahead of first Rugby World Cup match

Andy Farrell’s Ireland team begin their campaign at Stade de Bordeaux on Saturday afternoon

When and where is it on?

Ireland’s opening Rugby World Cup match is against Romania on Saturday at Stade de Bordeaux, kick-off is at 2.30pm (3.30pm local time). This is the first of four matches in Pool B.

How can I watch it?

Ireland v Romania is live on Virgin Media and ITV1 in the UK. Coverage on Virgin Media gets under way at 2pm.

What’s the World Cup format?

Ireland are in Pool B with Romania, Tonga, South Africa and Scotland, playing those teams in that order week-on-week with two weeks between the final two games. First in the group will face the runner-up in Pool A in the quarter-finals, whereas second will face the winner of the same group which contains France and New Zealand. Meaning the top four teams in the world are all on one side of the draw, leaving the likes of Australia, England, Wales and Argentina to fight it out for a place in the final.

Ireland’s Pool B fixtures are as follows (all times Irish):


Sat Sept 9th: v Romania, Bordeaux, 2.30 Irish time

Sat Sept 16th: v Tonga, Nantes, 8.0

Sat Sept 23rd: v South Africa, Paris, 8.0

Sat Oct 7th: v Scotland, Paris, 8.0

Sat Oct 14th: Quarter-final 2 (winner Pool B vs runner-up Pool A), Paris, 8.0

Sun Oct 15th: Quarter-final 4 (winner Pool A vs runner-up Pool B), Paris, 8.0

Fri Oct 20th: Semi-final 1 (winner of QF1 vs winner of QF2), Paris, 8.0

Sat Oct 21st: Semi-final 2 (winner of QF4 vs winner of QF4), Paris, 8.0

Sat Oct 28th: Final (winner of SF1 vs winner of SF2) – Paris, 8.0

Ireland seem to be in pretty good form?

Ireland come into this World Cup as Six Nations champions, winning the Grand Slam after beating Australia and South Africa the previous November. And before that, winning two out of three on their successful and historic tour to New Zealand.

Andy Farrell’s team are ranked world number one, and heading into this tournament they enjoyed comfortable warm-up wins over Italy, England and Samoa. Ireland have won their last 13 games, since losing to the All Blacks in Eden Park in July 2022. And Josh van der Flier is the reigning World Player of the Year. Surely this Irish team will be the first to get past a World Cup quarter-final – at least – but the draw hasn’t done them any favours.

What to expect from Romania?

Romania are ranked 19th in the world and heading into their ninth World Cup, never before getting out of their pool. Ireland will be expecting to pick up a bonus-point win against a team they’ve faced on nine occasions since 1986 and won each time.

Three of those previous meetings came at the Rugby World Cup – 1999, 2003 and 2015.

Romania come in off the back of three defeats in their warm-up matches, by 50 points against both Italy and Georgia, and also to the USA who didn’t even qualify for this World Cup. Romania qualified through the Rugby Europe competition, finishing third behind Georgia and Spain, but when the latter was deemed to have fielded an ineligible player during the campaign, Romania were promoted to the second automatic qualification with Spain disqualified.

They have just six World Cup victories in eight tournament appearances, most notably against Fiji in 1991. They will most likely be targeting the Tonga game as their best chance at an upset.

The Mighty Oaks were struck a triple blow with injuries to Mihai Muresan (dislocated shoulder), Paul Popoaia (shoulder) and captain Mihai Macovei on the eve of the tournament. Check out John O’Sullivan’s guide to Romania below.

Is Johnny Sexton back?

The 38-year-old Ireland captain is drawing the curtain on his glittering career after the Rugby World Cup, but was denied an Aviva Stadium send off when an independent disciplinary committee handed him a three-match suspension in July.

That came following a hearing into his post-match conduct after Leinster’s Champions Cup final defeat to La Rochelle. Meaning his most recent competitive game, and what has turned out to be his last match in Dublin, was Ireland’s Grand Slam sealing Six Nations win over England in March. An injury sustained there also ruled him out of the business end of Leinster’s season. Robbie Henshaw, however, has no concerns of his outhalf being undercooked for the start of the World Cup campaign.

Sexton did get some contact-minutes in during a training match against Portugal during the team’s recent camp. And at last he will be back in green against Romania, with Gerry Thornley expecting him to wear the 10 jersey, starting his first match in almost six months.

Team news

The Irish team announcement is set for Thursday, with the Romanian team also expected to be named on the same day.

Ireland scrum coach John Fogarty has been bullish about the fitness of the squad this week, telling the media “no one is ruled out” of the opening game. Dan Sheehan continues his recovery from the sprained foot ligament he sustained in the warm-up win over England and is unlikely to be risked. The same is likely to be the case for Jack Conan who picked up a foot injury against Italy.

Sexton and Rónan Kelleher are the only two members of the 33-man Irish squad not to have played a minute in the three warm-up games, but as with the returning Irish captain, the fit-again Kelleher is also set to feature against Romania.


The forecast for Bordeaux on Saturday afternoon is clear skies, with temperatures between 31 and 33 degrees and a wind speed of 4km/h. Ireland have been preparing for these conditions, they spent a week in Portugal for a warm-weather training camp and also played their final warm-up game against Samoa in Bayonne, although they had to deal with heavy rain throughout that match.

Who’s on the whistle?

Nika Amashukeli is one of four referees making their Rugby World Cup debuts in the middle during this tournament, and he is also the first Georgian referee in World Cup history.

Any tickets?

Tickets for Ireland’s match against Romania are being sold via the Rugby World Cup’s official ticketing website and are priced from €28 (Cat 4) to €116 (Cat 1).

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue is a former Irish Times journalist