Ireland national rugby league team
The Ireland men's national rugby league team, known as the Wolfhounds, is organised by Rugby League Ireland. The representative team is dominated by players from the Super League and sometimes includes players from the Australasian National Rugby League. Ireland is also represented by an Ireland A side, which is made up of players from the domestic Irish competition.
|Governing body||Rugby League Ireland|
|Head coach||Stuart Littler|
|Most caps||Liam Finn (32)|
|Top try-scorer||Stuart Littler (13)|
|Top point-scorer||Liam Finn (170)|
|Home stadium||Carlisle Grounds, Bray |
Morton Stadium, Santry
(RDS Arena, Dublin, Ireland; 13 August 1995)
(Tullamore, Ireland; 18 October 2009)
(St Helens, England;16 June 2012)
(Moscow, Russia;16 May 2004)
|Appearances||4 (first time in 2000)|
|Best result||Quarter-finals 2000, 2008|
Since Ireland began competing in international rugby league in 1995, it has participated in the 1995 Rugby League Emerging Nations Tournament, the 1996 Super League World Nines, and three Rugby League World Cups – 2000, 2008 and 2013. They have also competed in the Rugby League European Nations Cup and Victory Cup. Ireland A compete in the St Patrick's Day Challenge in the US and in the Amateur Four Nations.
The seeds of modern-day Rugby League in Ireland were sown in 1989 when Brian Corrigan founded the Dublin Blues, a club that was primarily used by union players to keep fit during the summer by playing matches against touring British teams. In 1995 the British RFL established Ireland's first development officer and later that year Ireland played against the United States in Washington on St Patricks Day with Ireland winning 24-22. Wigan Warriors player Joe Lydon came on as a substitute despite him being there as manager. Huddersfield Giants coach Terry Flanagan and former Great Britain international Niel Wood were the joint coaches. In August 1995 Ireland beat Scotland at the RDS Arena in Dublin as a curtain raiser to the charity shield match between Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors. The matches were played before an attendance of 5716, a record for an international rugby league match on Irish soil. Former Great Britain player Des Foy played for Ireland. Following their appearance at the 1995 Emerging Nations Tournament they were invited to the Super League World Nines in Fiji where they finished 8th. Prior to the tournament Ireland played a game of touch rugby against Australia in Fiji's National Stadium on 20 February going down 12-20. Later that year Ireland returned to the US to play in the St Patrick's Day match winning 14-12
Flags and anthems
The Irish rugby league team is one of many Irish teams that draws its players from across the island of Ireland; it utilises the Four Provinces Flag of Ireland and the all-island anthem "Ireland's Call". Unlike the rugby union team from whom the anthem originates, the Irish rugby league team does not play Amhrán na bhFiann, the national anthem of the Irish state in addition to Ireland's Call when playing at home.
1995 Emerging Nations Tournament
Ireland were included in the tournament held in England and were placed in Group 2 alongside Moldova and Morocco. Ireland beat Moldova 48-24 before beating Morocco 42-6 to progress to the final. Gigg Lane in Bury was the venue for the final against Cook Islands but Ireland lost 6-22. Coached by Terry Flanagan, Ireland's squad included professionals Des Foy and Martin Crompton in an otherwise domestic based squad
2000 World Cup
1997 saw more England-based Super League players making themselves available by use of the grandparent rule. The Irish team improved its standards but this development gave less opportunity for Irish-based players to get a chance to play. However, Irish-based players were included in the Irish squad for the triangular tournaments in 1998 against France and Scotland and 1999 against Scotland and Wales. Their success was enough to earn a place in the 2000 World Cup. Finishing top of their group, the Irish eventually lost 26–16 to England in the quarter-finals, but the performance set the scene for future developments in Ireland.
2008 World Cup
Ireland were drawn against Lebanon and Russia in Europe's 2008 Rugby League World Cup Qualifying Pool Two. Ireland topped the group with a 16–16 draw with Lebanon at Dewsbury on 2 November 2007. The draw meant Ireland qualified for the 2008 World Cup on points difference from Lebanon as both nations gained the same number of group points.
At the 2008 World Cup in Australia, Ireland were in Group C along with Tonga and Samoa. They lost to Tonga on 27 October in Parramatta, Sydney, but were victorious against Samoa, again in Parramatta, on 5 November and topped the group on points difference. As the group winners, they played Fiji, winners of Group B, for a chance to qualify for the semi-final. Fiji won 30–14 and so Ireland were eliminated.
2013 World Cup
For the 2013 World Cup being staged in England, Wales, France and Ireland. Ireland have been drawn in group A alongside Australia, England and 2008 World Cup rivals Fiji. Ireland have been granted automatic entry to the tournament due to their strong showing in the 2008 World Cup
Mark Aston the head coach and driving force behind the Sheffield Eagles was confirmed as the head coach of Rugby League Ireland. His appointment was announced at a press conference in Sheffield on Tuesday 24 May 2011 and he is confirmed in the role for the World Cup in 2013.
2017 World Cup
Ireland kicked off their campaign with a shock 36-12 win over Italy in Cairns. In the next pool match Ireland lost a narrow match to PNG 14-6 with PNG needing a 78th minute try to win the game. Ireland's final pool match was against Wales in Perth where they ran out comfortable winners 34-6. Ireland did not progress to the next round of the tournament despite winning more games than Lebanon or Samoa who qualified for the last 8.
The following tournaments is a list of notable international competitions that Ireland has been competing in since their existence in 1995. A red box around the year indicates tournaments played within Ireland.
|World Cup Record||World Cup qualification record|
|Did not enter||Did not enter|
|Quarter-finals||Fifth place||4||3||0||1||94||64||Qualified as co-hosts|
|Semi-final qualifier||Fifth place||3||1||0||2||68||68||4||2||2||0||142||64|
|Group stage||14th||3||0||0||3||14||124||Automatic qualifier|
- Note these are the results of the cups that had a 'Final' game and beyond.
|European Cup record|
The 22-man national team squad selected for the first match day of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup European play-off tournament.
|Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Pts||Club|
|Fullback||Gregg McNally||2 January 1991||11||34|
|Wing||Roland Podesta||1 January 2000||0||0|
|Centre||Zack McComb||9 September 1995||0||0|
|Centre||Ethan Ryan||12 May 1996||3||4|
|Scrum-half||Joe Keyes||17 September 1995||6||0|
|Prop||Liam Byrne||18 August 1999||3||0|
|Prop||Frankie Halton||18 June 1996||0||0|
|Prop||Ronan Michael||3 July 2000||3||0|
|Prop||Pat Moran||2 April 1998||0||0|
|Prop||Michael Ward||10 February 1991||3||0|
|Hooker||Bob Beswick||8 December 1984||25||12|
|Hooker||Sam Cullen||27 August 2000||0||0|
|Hooker||Declan O'Donnell||7 September 1998||3||4|
|Second-row||Danny Bridge||4 January 1993||5||0|
|Second-row||Tyrone McCarthy||21 April 1988||17||8|
|Second-row||James Mulvaney||23 June 2000||0||0|
|Second-row||Oliver Roberts||24 December 1994||8||20|
|Loose forward||James Bentley||19 October 1996||3||4|
|Loose forward||George King||24 February 1995||8||16|
|Loose forward||Matthew Towey||1 January 1992||0||0|
- Updated as of 10 November 2019
|Terry Flanagan||1995 – 1996||5||3||0||2||60%|
|Steve O'Neill||1997 – 1999||5||3||1||1||60%|
|Andy Kelly||May 2000 – May 2011||28||13||2||13||46.4%|
|Mark Aston||May 2011 – November 2017||25||13||0||12||52%|
|Carl De Chenu (Interim)||October 2016, June 2018||2||1||0||1||50%|
|Stuart Littler||September 2018 – present||5||3||0||2||60%|
|Official Men's Rankings as of November 2019|
|*Change from July 2019|
Ireland made its international rugby league debut in 1995 with a victory over Scotland 26-22 in the RDS Arena. They compete in the Rugby League European Nations Cup and have participated in the Rugby League World Cup.
Most capped players
- 1999 Triangular Series
The Ireland A team is selected from players in the Irish domestic competition. This team is administered by Rugby League Ireland. The 'A' team competes each year in the Amateur Four Nations with England A, Scotland A and Wales A.
- "history". Retrieved 1 December 2015.
- "Triangular Series 1999". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
- "Match day squads confirmed for European qualifiers for RLWC2021". Rugby League Planet. 20 October 2019.
- "Ireland". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
- "Ireland". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
- "Ireland". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
- "Ireland". rugbyleagueproject. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ireland national rugby league team.|