Ireland's players are taking a short break after a long hard season and will begin their Rugby World Cup preparations in earnest on 19 June when they arrive at the high performance centre in Dublin for a series of camps, which will also take in a trip to Portugal in early August.

Head coach Andy Farrell has selected 42 players, which will be whittled down to 33 and confirmed in the days following the warm-up match against Samoa in Bayonne on 26 August.

The game will be the last of three warm-ups following on from home ties against Italy (5 August) and England (12 August) .

Elsewhere, Ireland's Pool B opponents are in various stages of preparation with Romania, Tonga and Scotland working towards warm-up matches in July and August, while 2019 winners South Africa have three Rugby Championship games to take care of in July before a three-Test run of friendlies just prior to the World Cup.

The final 33-man squads must be submitted to World Rugby by 28 August.

Here's our quick guide to the recent form and upcoming fixtures for Ireland's group opponents.


Romania qualified via a second-place finish behind Georgia in Rugby Europe qualification. Spain had initially finished ahead of Romania but lost 10 points due to fielding an ineligible player in two games.

Former England head coach Andy Robinson was in charge from 2019 until late last year when Eugen Apjok took over.

Most recently, Romania finished third in the Rugby Europe Championship. They recorded victories against Poland and Belgium but lost to Portugal in the pool stages.

Georgia beat them in the semi-final but they finished off with a 31-25 win over Spain in the third-place play-off.

Bar the 2019 tournament, the Oaks have been at every World Cup since its inception in 1987.

They were actually in Ireland's pool four years ago but were replaced by Russia after it was found they fielded an ineligible player in qualification.

Ranked 19th in the world, Romania don't have many household names and the majority of their squad play in the Romanian league.

However, wing / centre Atila Septar plays in the Top14 for Toulon, while captain Mihai Macovei (above) has played almost 200 ProD2 games, mostly for Colomiers, and has been capped 103 times.

Ireland and Romania meet in the opening game of Pool B on 9 September at 2.30pm (Irish time) in Stade de Bordeaux.

Summer fixtures
5 August v USA (h)
12 August v Georgia (a)
19 August v Italy (a)


Tonga, under head coach Toutai Kefu, who won 60 caps for Australia as a player, qualified by winning the Asia Pacific qualifying tournament last summer. They beat Hong Kong 44-22 in the final.

They are one of the primary beneficiaries of the 2021 World Rugby ruling that allowed international players who had not played for their country in three years to switch to the country of their birth, or the country of their parents or grandparents' birth.

Former New Zealand World Cup winner Malakai Fekitoa (above), who departed Munster for Benetton having helped them to the URC title last weekend, was born in Tonga and made his debut for the Sea Eagles last year.

Israel Folau, sacked by Australia in 2019 for a social media post that warned "hell awaits" sinners, is set to be included in the squad after making his debut last year.

Six of his 73 Wallabies caps came against Ireland.

Former Ulster and New Zealand full-back Charles Piutau and Scarlets flanker / lock and 12-cap All Black Vaea Fifita are also expected to be included in the squad.

Last autumn's international window saw Tonga record three wins from three, against Spain, Chile and Uruguay.

Currently ranked 15th in the world, their first game in France comes against Ireland on 16 September at 8pm in Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes.

Summer fixtures
22 July v Fiji (a)
29 July v Japan (a)
5 August v Samoa (a)


Holders South Africa began a series of warm-up camps two weeks ago in Durban with a slimmed down selection but earlier this week had 33 players, including nine Stormers, who were involved in the URC final, plus Munster's RG Snyman (above) and former Ulster man Duane Vermuelen in a two-day camp.

Captain Siya Kolisi, lock Eben Etzebeth, scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse and prop Thomas du Toit, who are all currently injured, were present under the supervision of the Springboks medical team.

Flanker Kolisi is the biggest concern, having undergone surgery for a knee injury suffered against Munster at the end of April.

"We are delighted with the foundation we put in place in at our two preparation camps in Durban and our alignment camps hosted in Cape Town and Stellenbosch earlier this year, and we believe we have a strong basis to build from as we start preparing for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship," said head coach Jacques Nienaber, who joins the Leinster set-up after the tournament.

"The players have been working very hard and they know what we expect from them as we gear up to the Test season. We were fortunate to have a manageable size training squad at this training camp, and it was also fantastic to see the progress made by the injured players, who had another valuable opportunity to work face-to-face with our medical team."

Three-time winners of the tournament (1995, 2007 and 2019), the Springboks are fourth in the World Rugby rankings.

Nienaber, alongside director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, will name their squad on 8 August, three days after a friendly against Argentina and have two further games, away to Wales, and against New Zealand in London to hone a starting XV for their opening World Cup clash with Scotland on 10 September in Marseille.

They face Ireland on 23 September at 8pm in Stade de France in Paris.

Summer fixtures
8 July v Australia (h) Rugby Championship
15 July v New Zealand (a) Rugby Championship
29 July v Argentina (h) Rugby Championship

5 August v Argentina (a)
19 August v Wales (a)
25 August v New Zealand (London)


The most familiar of opponents, Scotland find themselves in Ireland's group for the second tournament running.

Including the 27-3 loss at the Japan World Cup in 2019, Scotland have not beaten Ireland in eight meetings since 2017.

Six Nations rivals annually, Gregor Townsend's side have flattered to deceive over recent seasons.

Each meeting is generally hyped up as the game that Scotland will turn over Ireland but they can't manage to get the job done. Most recently in Murrayfield in March, the hosts were unable to take advantage of a calamitous Irish injury list along the way to a 22-7 defeat.

The Scots beat England and Wales in their opening Six Nations games before losing to France and Ireland and finished off with a narrow victory over Italy, good enough for third place in the table.

Former Munster man Ben Healy (above) made his debut against the Azzurri as a replacement and has four games, off the back of a significant contribution to a URC title, to impress Townsend, who, between Finn Russell and Blair Kinghorn, has yet to find the right out-half formula.

Scotland, ranked fifth on the World Rugby table, gathered for a camp at the end of May with 41 players, two of whom, lock Cameron Henderson and centre Stafford McDowall, are uncapped.

Assistant coaches Steve Tandy, John Dalziel and Pieter de Villiers recently joined Townsend in signing contract extensions, ending a period of uncertainty over the coaching ticket's future.

They open their campaign against the Springboks and face Ireland in the last pool match on 7 October at 8pm in Stade de France.

Summer fixtures
29 July v Italy (h)
5 August v France (h)
12 August v France (a)
26 August v Georgia (h)

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