Ireland v Samoa: Kick off time, TV channel and team news ahead of World Cup warm-up match

Andy Farrell’s Ireland team prepare for Rugby World Cup with clash against Samoa in Bayonne

When and where is it on?

Ireland’s third Rugby World Cup warm-up match is against Samoa on Saturday at Stade Jean Dauger in Bayonne, France. Kick-off is at 7.45pm. Andy Farrell’s team are playing for places and form heading into the September 8th tournament kick-off in Paris.

How can I watch it?

Ireland v Samoa is live on RTÉ 2 in Ireland. Coverage on RTÉ (including RTÉ Player) gets under way at 7.15pm.

Is this Ireland’s last game before the World Cup?

Indeed it is and the last opportunity for Irish players to impress Farrell before the World Cup. The final squad will be announced on Monday, August 28th, so performances are important for fringe players that get a chance. Farrell and his assistants are likely to make some, if not wholesale, changes to what was close to a full-strength side against England featuring a dozen players making their first start of the season.

What to expect from Samoa?

Samoa have been in decent form heading into the match with Ireland, finishing second in the Pacific Nations Cup. They beat Japan and Ireland’s pool opponents Tonga, while losing to Pacific Island rivals Fiji in their other game this month. A small country with a population of just over 200,000 people, they are a proud rugby nation and are ranked 12th in the world, ahead of Italy and Japan.


They have beaten Ireland once in seven previous encounters, but not since 1996. They are captained by Leinster prop Michael Ala’alatoa and have a number of players at French Top 14 clubs, while three of the players in the squad previously played for New Zealand. World number one side Ireland will be expected to win the match, but hope Samoa will provide a good warm-up to compare to their World Cup pool game against Tonga.

How did Ireland do in the other warm-up games?

Ireland were comfortable winners in their two previous games against England and Italy. Against Italy, Gerry Thornley described the 33-17 win featuring a fringe team as a “satisfactory hit-out”, while the win against England with a full-strength team was described as a “flawed yet convincing send-off”. Ireland’s winning streak is now well into double figures, their last defeat coming against New Zealand in July 2022.

Team news

Andy Farrell has made a dozen changes to the Ireland starting XV for their final World Cup warm-up game, with only Mack Hansen, Tadgh Beirne and Josh van der Flier retained from the team which kicked off last week’s 29-10 win over England.

This is a selection that would appear to contain a host of indications toward the composition of the 33-man squad for the World Cup which Farrell will unveil at lunchtime next Monday, and quite probably some pointers to the line-up for the second pool game against Tonga.

IRELAND: Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster); Mack Hansen (Connacht), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), Keith Earls (Munster); Jack Crowley (Munster), Conor Murray (Munster); Cian Healy (Leinster), Tom Stewart (Ulster), Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Iain Henderson (Ulster, capt), Tadhg Beirne (Munster), Ryan Baird (Leinster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster), Caelan Doris (Leinster).

Replacements: Rob Herring (Ulster), Jeremy Loughman (Munster), Tom O’Toole (Ulster), James Ryan (Leinster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Craig Casey (Munster), Ross Byrne (Leinster), Garry Ringrose (Leinster).

Samoa: Duncan Paia’aua; Ed Fidow, UJ Seuteni, Tumua Manu, Nigel Ah Wong; Lima Sopoaga, Jonathan Taumateine; James Lay, Seilala Lam, Paul Alo-Emile; Chris Vui (capt), Theo McFarland; Taleni Seu, Fritz Lee, Steven Luatua

Replacements: Sama Malolo, Jordan Lay, Michael Alaalatoa, Miracle Fai’ilagi, Jordan Taufua, Ereatara Enari, Christian Leali’ifano, Neria Foma’i.

Otherwise the Irish focus this week is on the injury status first-choice hooker Dan Sheehan’s foot. Optimism is growing within camp that Sheehan is on course to recover from foot injury in time for major World Cup pool Tests against South Africa and Scotland. Attack coach Mike Catt has said that they would “definitely” consider including Sheehan in the World Cup squad if, say, he was sidelined for four weeks, and thus even if he was not ready to play until Ireland’s third pool game against South Africa in Stade de France on September 23rd.

What is the weather forecast?

Ireland will be training in much hotter weather than Ireland in Biarritz this week with temperatures set to reach a boiling 37 degrees on Wednesday. However, for the match itself in Bayonne, the forecast is giving a high probability of rain and 23 degrees, more akin to the weather in Ireland.

David Gorman

David Gorman

David Gorman is a sports journalist with The Irish Times