Ireland and Wales have both topped the world rankings but might the Celtic threat come from a less likely source?
The chapter on the Celts in the history of the World Cup is one of the shortest. Wales have made two semi-finals, double the number of Scotland who have managed it once more than Ireland. Between them, they have failed to make the knockout stage six times but this time they are all daring to dream.
When Ireland defeated New Zealand last November, they were seen as Europe’s main threat in the World Cup. Four months later, after a lacklustre Six Nations campaign, their record of never having got beyond the quarter-final stage in the tournament was frequently cited as expectations dipped. Now they sit top of the world rankings after back-to-back victories over Wales.