Irish rugby fans need little reminding of the country's dismal record at the knockout stages of the World Cup, and head coach Joe Schmidt has acknowledged that finally getting past the last eight would represent success.

In the inaugural World Cup 32 years ago, the men in green were eliminated at the quarter-final stages by Australia and it has been a similar pattern ever since.

In eight tournaments, Ireland have come a cropper immediately after the pool stages on six occasions, while in 1999 Argentina claimed a scalp at the quarter-final play-off.

The only outlier has been the disastrous 2007 campaign where Eddie O'Sullivan’s side failed to emerge from a pool containing Argentina and France.

Joe Schmidt has presided over a glorious period of Irish rugby – from sustained success with Leinster before leading Ireland to three Six Nations titles, a grand slam, as well as historic firsts; a win over the All Blacks and a Test win on South African soil.

Despite a disappointing Six Nations campaign and a mixed bag in the World Cup warm-up series, Ireland travel to Japan as the number one ranked side in the world.

The question remains, what can Ireland achieve?

I wouldn't often speak in black and white terms over what success looks like, but we know the only way that we can be successful is to get past that quarter-final

Schmidt normally keeps his cards close to his chests when speaking of tangible goals, but speaking to RTÉ Sport's Michael Corcoran, the Kiwi outlined what he feels would constitute a successful campaign before he departs the Ireland hotseat post-tournament.

"I wouldn’t often speak in black and white terms over what success looks like, but we know the only way that we can be successful is to get past that quarter-finals," he said.  

"Anything beyond that would be fantastic, and you’d cross that bridge if we get to it, but you have got to get to that bridge first and it’s going to be tough."

The lofty elevation at the top of the world order is also not something that Schmidt is overly concerned with.

Being top of the pile is testament to the body of work achieved by staff and players he says, but will count for little over the coming weeks.

"It [number one ranking] has never been a target for us. The target that we had was, probably as a coaching group, less so the playing group as we haven’t really shared this, we wanted to stay in the top four of the world continuously.

"For the last three years, we have been in the top four of the world, we haven’t dipped below that, I don’t think, at any stage. We have spent a lot of that time at number two in the world and that’s a real credit to the players. 

The World Cup is about who is best on the day rather than best in the world

"Sustainability of high performance is one of the big challenges for our players. One of the beauties of the World Cup is that it is not about sustaining high performance, it’s about peaking on the day. It’s about who is best on the day rather than best in the world.

"Going in with the label of number one, I still don’t think we are seen as a Goliath. The Goliaths are still the big teams like New Zealand, England and South Africa.

"We are a bit more in the contest that people would have previously expected us to be."

Are the squad in the best possible shape mentally and physically for the clash in Yokohama?

"We are, but it’s so fickle. You lose a guy in training or you have a hiccup somewhere, or your travel plans get disrupted and you arrive late at the ground and it adds stress, there are so many variables.

"We are in a good spot, and it is one we have been working towards for 12 months.

"We feel like we have a number of different ways that we can attack and be really secure defensively. Hopefully we can be fit for purpose."

Follow Ireland v Scotland on Sunday (kick-off 8.45am) via the live blog on RTÉ.ie/Sport and  the News  Now  App, watch live on RTÉ2 from 8am or listen to live match commentary on RTÉ Radio 1.