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Italian Martin Castrogiovanni (113 caps)

Pool D (World Ranking and Betting Odds)

Ireland       6                   9-1

France       7                 12-1

Italy            14                500-1

Romania 16                 5000-1

Canada     17               2000-1

Pool Ranking Average: 12.4

Past RWC Performances:

Team               Winner           Runner Up     3rd       4th       Total

France             0                        3                        0          1            4

Overview: In this, the weakest pool with the highest average world ranking, Ireland and France should move easily into the quarterfinals. Look for both XVs to rotate all 31 players against the three, weaker opponents. October 11 is the showdown between France and Ireland, the loser to face probably New Zealand in the quarter final round.

Recent Results:

Expectations were high within Ireland as the team captured the 2015 Six Nations Championship (4-1), albeit on a small points differential. These native hopes rose last autumn when Ireland beat South Africa at home. But, the Irish have lost their two last matches to Wales at home and England away.

Inside the Matches:

Ireland have never advanced out of the quarterfinal round in all of the seven past World Cups. In one sense, they are a sentimental favorite to make it to the finals. Yet, France, which always rise to play above their capabilities in these RWCs, come to the tournament unheralded. Should Ireland win the Pool, Les Bleus would meet the All Blacks whom they upset 43-31 in 1999's Cup, after having been down 24-10 at the break.

Final Thoughts:

The tension in this pool, what little exists, is whether Romania or Canada can defeat a weak Italy squad that has dropped significantly in the ratings in 2015.  The Azzurri have recorded wins over France and Ireland in the Six Nations Championship, which they joined in 2000. Rugby fans would welcome another France-New Zealand match up in the quarters, the game to be played in Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.