Considered legitimate contenders for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the Irish National Squad will hold the singular distinction of being the last squad to come to Australia for the last ever June Test series in 2018.
The ARU will make a formal announcement at a press conference later today, with Ireland’s President Michael Higgins presence to highlight the formalities. There may be a toast or two afterwards.
The Irish side also holds another singular distinction and although you may ask how there can be two singular distinctions, please bear in mind that we are professional writers on a closed course, so do not attempt this at home.
What makes the Irish special is that they are the last national team to beat the All Blacks, which should make them wildly popular in all the pubs around Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, where each city will host the tourists for one of the three games in the series. The Irish beat the ABs in, of all places, Chicago. The Chicago in the U.S., not the ones in Mexico, Africa, South America or the Philippines.
Ireland is currently ranked number four in the world, quite a feat given that the Emerald Isle is home to less than five million and interestingly, just about 100,000 more than live in Kiwi land.
It has been known that Ireland would tour Australia for some time, but the length of the series was uncertain. Three it will be.
Following that, the curtain will fall for the final time on the June Test window in Australia, as there is a World Cup in 2019 and a new global rugby calendar to be implemented in 2020.
The new schedule will permit Super Rugby to play its season without interruption.
Ireland does not fare well in Australia. All the sunshine crisps their fair skins. They have won only three times from 14 attempts in Australia and not since 1979.