Posted by Tom Collins on Monday, September 11, 2019 12:13:11The day has finally arrived for the first round of the 2019 World Cup after a day of intense speculation that led to the final.
The day also saw a host of controversy and drama as players from the Republic of Ireland and Wales clashed over the shape of their teams.
Ireland, who have not played in a World Cup since 1986, will play Wales, who beat the hosts in their opening game, in Dublin on Thursday night, followed by a clash between the hosts and England on Friday.
Both teams are led by the outstanding Ryan Giggs, who is the all-time leading scorer for the Six Nations, but is not currently playing in the tournament due to a knee injury.
Ireland will be without captain Paul O’Connell, who has been ruled out with a calf injury.
They will be backed by captain Stephen O’Donnell and captain Rory Best, who are both fit.
The Irish are led largely by O’Neill, who scored the winning try against Australia in a thrilling encounter in the semi-finals.
He has also scored two tries in his two matches against Wales.
O’Neill’s team is made up of two Irishmen, captain Paul James, and second row Anthony Foley.
The pair have both played for the All Blacks.
They are also backed by a number of Ireland-born players, including Liam Williams, who made his debut in the Six Wars against Scotland.
They also feature in the back row, with the most recent addition, Liam O’Brien, in his first season with the Scarlets.
Wales will face Scotland in their second game in Dublin and Wales will face Italy in their third.
The Rugby Championship kicks off on Thursday with Ireland hosting Scotland and Wales hosting Italy.