15 Rugby Dates For Your Diary in 2015

15 Rugby Dates For Your Diary in 2015
By Conor O'Leary
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17th January - Saracens v Munster

It's very simple for Munster in the Champions Cup for this year, if they beat Saracens in Allianz Park in Round 5, they are more than likely through to the quarter finals. This will be their most important game for the rest of their season, and it occurs in the next two weeks.

6th February - Italy Women v Ireland Women

After the stellar year that the Irish women have had, beating New Zealand and reaching the semi finals of a World Cup, things get back to normal when they travel to Italy in the first 6 Nations games of the year. That same weekend sees the U20s and the senior men's team also start their 6 Nations campaigns away to Italy.

13th February - Crusaders v Rebels

Super Rugby season kicks off in earnest a week after the start of the 6 Nations. Early mornings await as some of the most entertaining and skilful rugby will be on show. In a world cup year, it'll be interesting to see what Southern Hemisphere players are playing themselves into form. Can Ex-Leinster coach Michael Cheika double-job and lead the Waratahs to another title, or will he be too focused on the Wallabies?

13th February - Scarlets v Connacht 

With the new qualification rules for the Champions Cup, finishing 6th or higher in the Pro 12 means everything. Looking at the table, it appears the battle for 6th place is between Connacht and Scarlets, with Cardiff and Edinburgh a distance behind. Connacht's early season form has put them in pole position, and they arrive at the half way point with a 4 point lead. Their next two fixtures? Edinburgh at home, and then Scarlets away. That Scarlets game could decide who qualifies and will be the biggest game in Llanelli for a while.

14th February - Ireland v France


Ireland's second game in the 6 Nations will be their biggest one. It's strange that they open up the 6 Nations campaign their two World Cup pool companions. The game against France will be huge not only for the rest of the 6 Nations tournament, but also psychologically going into their crucial World Cup pool decider. France have been Ireland's bogey team for the last 50 years. Ireland have only won 10 of the last 51 games against France, and while they are declining in recent years, they seem to reserve their best for us.

21st March - Scotland v Ireland

Scotland will be Ireland's final game in the 6 Nations. The last competitive game before the World Cup, and maybe Ireland go into that game with something to play for, whether it be a grand slam, or a championship on the line.

2nd May - Champions Cup Final

Finals of big competitions are always interesting, and a chance to see the stars of Toulon and Clermont duke it out will be something most rugby fans will not want to miss.

29/30/31 May - Pro 12 Final 


The Irish provinces are having a better time of it in the Pro 12. In fact, in the 12 year history of the competition, there has only been one year with no Irish team in the final at all - 2007. With Leinster, Munster and Ulster all firmly ensconced in the top 5 again, it's highly likely that at least two of them will make the playoffs, and Irish rugby will most likely have one province to cheer for in a final again.

10th June New Zealand U20 v Ireland U20

The Ireland U20s finished an impressive 4th last year in the Junior World Cup. A lot of their squad have been retained from last year including key players Ciaran Gaffney and Ross Byrne. With new head coach Nigel Carolan in charge, he will be looking to take the Wolfpuppies even further in the rankings. To do that, they'll need to beat the Baby All Blacks in their final pool game with the aim of topping their pool. I wouldn't back against them.

17th July - New Zealand v Argentina

New Zealand and Argentina kick off a shortened Rugby Championship on the 17th of July. With only three games each, this will be the last time for people to get into form and figure out how the Southern Hemisphere teams are shaping up with the World Cup just around the corner.

And a heads up, not once has the Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship winners gone on to win the World Cup that same year.

5th September - England v Ireland

Ireland's final warm up before the World Cup. If it wasn't obvious how big the World Cup is going to be before, it should be now. A warm up game in Twickenham will be an important run out, and based on 2011, victories in warm up games are not essential.

19th September - Ireland v Canada

Ireland eventually open their RWC campaign against Canada two weeks after the England warm up. Ireland beat Canada on tour in 2013 40 points to 14 with Fergus McFadden scoring a hat-trick and Peter O'Mahony deputising as captain while the Lions were away.

11th October - France v Ireland

Ireland's biggest game of the year. Maybe. Hopefully not. If all goes as expected, this game should decide who tops of the pool and avoids New Zealand in the next round, and who has to face the All Black might in Cardiff the following week. The winner of this game will have an extra days rest aswell, while the loser faces a short 6 day turnaround before facing New Zealand.

 17th/18th October RWC Quarter Finals

The furtherest Ireland have ever gone in a World Cup. The quarter finals are scheduled to take place over one long weekend, and each game is going to be huge. On the other half of the draw, two of England, Fiji, Wales and Australia will be facing two of South Africa, Samoa and Scotland in what should prove to be some fascinating games, while New Zealand and Argentina await Ireland, France or Italy.

31st October - RWC Final 

The pinnacle of any rugby year. There have only been 7 RWC finals in history, and already it has a sense of aura about it. 2015's edition in Twickenham promises to be another epic encounter of this year's top teams. Who knows, Ireland could be there.


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