Ireland national rugby league team

Nickname Wolfhounds
Governing body Rugby League Ireland
Region Europe
Head coach Mark Aston
Captain Liam Finn
Most caps Bob Beswick (25)
Top try-scorer Phil Cantillon (12)
Top point-scorer Liam Finn (106)
Home stadium Carlisle Grounds Bray
RLIF ranking 6th
First international
 United States 22–24 Ireland 
(Washington D.C., US; 17 March 1995)
Biggest win
 Ireland 70-16 Russia 
(Bray, Ireland; 30 October 2016)
Biggest defeat
England England Knights 62-4 Ireland 
(St Helens, England;16 June 2012)
World Cup
Appearances 3 (first time in 2000)
Best result Quarter-finals 2000, 2008

The Ireland national rugby league team, known as the Wolfhounds, represents the whole country of Ireland in rugby league football. The team is organised by Rugby League Ireland. The representative team is dominated by players from the European 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.

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 Cups2000, 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 USA and in the Amateur Four Nations.

Irish players have in the past been selected to play for the Great Britain side, one recent example being Cork-born Brian Carney. However, since the Great Britain team was split into individual nations in 2007, it is unlikely that this situation will arise again.


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 1996 Ireland beat Scotland at the RDS Arena in Dublin as a curtain raiser to the charity shield match between Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors . 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 USA to play in the St Patrick's Day match winning 14-12[1]

Flags and anthems

The Four Provinces Flag of Ireland
England v Ireland 2013 RLWC

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 anthem "Ireland's Call".

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

Further information: 2000 Rugby League 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.

Ireland at the 2008 World Cup.

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 as been 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.

Tournament History

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

World Cup record
Year Round Position GP W L D
United KingdomFranceRepublic of Ireland 2000Quarter-finals5/164310
Australia 2008Quarter-finals5/103120
EnglandFranceRepublic of IrelandWales 2013Group stage14/143030
AustraliaNew Zealand 2017 To Be Determined
Total0 Titles3/1310460

Four Nations

Four Nations record
Year Round Position GP W L D
EnglandFrance 2009 Failed to Qualify
AustraliaNew Zealand 2010 Not Invited
EnglandWales 2011 Failed to Qualify
AustraliaNew Zealand 2014 Not Invited
England 2016 Failed to Qualify
Total0 Titles0/50030

European Cup

European Cup record
Year Round Position GP W L D
2003Group stage5/62110
2004Second Place2/63210
FranceGeorgia (country)Republic of IrelandRussiaScotlandWales 2005Group Stage3/62110
Republic of IrelandItalyLebanonScotlandSerbiaWales 2009Group Stage4/62110
FranceRepublic of IrelandScotlandWales 2010Group Stage4/43030
Republic of IrelandScotland 2012Second Place2/32110
EnglandFranceRepublic of IrelandScotlandWales 2014Group Stage3/43210
FranceRepublic of IrelandScotlandWales 2015Group Stage3/43120
Total0 Titles 209110

Current squad

The Ireland national team squad selected for the 2017 World Cup qualifiers.[2] (caps and points apply for before the qualifiers began):

Other Nat. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Pts Club
England Fullback Scott Grix 1 May 1984 14 16 Huddersfield Giants
Australia Fullback Shannon McDonnell 5 August 1987 3 8 St Helens RFC
England Wing Casey Dunne 6 10 Athboy Longhorns
England Wing Chris Hall 0 0 Belfast Met Scholars
England Centre Toby King 9 July 1996 0 0 Warrington Wolves
Ireland Centre Alan McMahon 0 0 Galway Tribesmen
England Stand-off Liam Finn 2 November 1983 24 102 Wakefield Wildcats
Ireland Halfback James Kelly 0 0 Dublin City Exiles
England Halfback Joseph Keyes 17 September 1995 3 0 Bradford Bulls
England Halfback Gregg McNally 2 January 1991 8 30 Leigh Centurions
England Prop Luke Ambler 18 December 1989 17 24 Halifax RLFC
Ireland Prop Gareth Gill 1 0 Ballynahinch Rabbitohs
Ireland Prop Matty Hadden 7 June 1990 8 0 Rochdale Hornets
England Prop James Hasson 1 May 1992 3 4 Parramatta Eels
England Second-row David Allen 15 September 1985 9 4 Whitehaven RLFC
England Second-row Danny Bridge 4 January 1993 5 0 Redcliffe Dolphins
England Second-row Will Hope 2 June 1993 6 4 Oldham Roughyeds
England Second-row George King 24 February 1995 0 0 Warrington Wolves
England Second-row Joe Philbin 16 November 1994 0 0 Warrington Wolves
England Second-row Oliver Roberts 24 December 1995 3 0 Huddersfield Giants
? Matthew Cahoon 0 0 Ireland Students
? Mikey Russell 0 0 Dublin City Exiles

Notable players


Name Nationality Tenure Matches Won Drew Lost
Terry Flanagan England 1995 - 1996 5 3 0 2
Steve O'Neill England 1997 - 1999 5 3 1 1
Andy Kelly England May 2000 - May 2011 25 10 2 13
Mark Aston England May 2011 – present 15 4 0 11


Official Rankings as of November 2016[3]
1 Increase  Australia
2 Decrease  New Zealand
3 Steady  England
4 Increase  Scotland
5 Decrease  Samoa
6  France
7  Fiji
8  Ireland
9  Wales
10 Steady  United States
11  Serbia
12 Increase  Canada
13  Italy
14 Decrease  Tonga
15  Papua New Guinea
16 Increase  Russia
17 Decrease  Jamaica
18  Belgium
19 Steady  Spain
20  Malta
21  Lebanon
22 Increase  Ukraine
23  Germany
24  Czech Republic
25 Decrease  Cook Islands
26 Steady  Norway
27  Denmark
28  Greece
29  Sweden
30  Netherlands
31  South Africa
32 Increase  Niue
33 Decrease  Philippines
34 Steady  Chile
35  Vanuatu
36  Latvia
37  Solomon Islands
38  Hungary
39  El Salvador
40  Morocco

Ireland has played in 54 internationals since its debut in 1995 winning 23 and losing 28 with 3 draws. Ireland have played 18 different teams over this 21-year period. As it is not a full member of the Rugby League International Federation, these matches are not considered to be tests. They compete in the Rugby League European Nations Cup and the Rugby League World Cup

Tallaght Stadium Rugby League Ireland defeat France in 2014 Rugby League European Championship

* As of 30th October 2016

Overall record

Against Played Won Drawn Lost
 Australia 1 0 0 1
 Cook Islands 1 0 0 1
 England 3 0 0 3
EnglandEngland Knights 2 0 0 2
 Fiji 2 0 0 2
 France 8 1 1 6
 Jamaica 1 0 0 1
 Lebanon 3 0 2 1
 Malta 1 1 0 0
 Moldova 1 1 0 0
 Morocco 1 1 0 0
 Māori 1 1 0 0
 Russia 3 3 0 0
 Samoa 2 2 0 0
 Scotland 13 8 0 5
 Serbia 1 1 0 0
 Spain 1 1 0 0
 Tonga 1 0 0 1
 Wales 8 3 0 5
Total 54 23 3 28
Brian Carney was instrumental in Ireland's plan before his switch to rugby union

Ireland A

Ireland Wolfhounds logo

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.

See also


  1. "history".

External links

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