The Ireland squad will depart Dublin for their base camp in Tours on Thursday, as preparations step up a gear for the Rugby World Cup Pool B opener against Romania in Bordeaux on Saturday, 9 September (Kick-off 2.30pm Irish time/3.30pm local time).
Sexton is one of three Ireland players set to appear at their fourth Rugby World Cup, with the captain having featured at the 2011, 2015 and 2019 editions alongside Conor Murray and recent Test centurion Keith Earls.
There is a wealth of Rugby World Cup experience throughout the 33-player travelling squad, as Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Robbie Henshaw and Peter O’Mahony prepare for their third global tournament, while Bundee Aki, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Garry Ringrose and Josh van der Flier were all involved in Japan four years ago.
The remaining 18 players in Farrell’s squad will be making their Rugby World Cup debuts in France. Forwards Ryan Baird, Finlay Bealham, Jeremy Loughman, Caelan Doris, Rob Herring, Ronan Kelleher, Joe McCarthy, Tom O’Toole and Dan Sheehan and backs Ross Byrne, Craig Casey, Jack Crowley, Jamison Gibson-Park, Mack Hansen, Hugo Keenan, Stuart McCloskey, James Lowe and Jimmy O’Brien all earn selection following Ireland’s Bank of Ireland Nations Series wins over Italy, England and Samoa.
Ireland open their Pool B campaign against Romania at Stade de Bordeaux, before taking on Tonga in their second outing in Nantes on Saturday, 16 September (Kick-off 8pm Irish time/9pm local time).
Farrell’s side then move on to the Stade de France in Paris for clashes against defending champions South Africa on Saturday, 23 September (Kick-off 8pm Irish time/9pm local time) and Scotland on Saturday, 7 October (Kick-off 8pm Irish time/9pm local time).
Commenting on today’s squad announcement at The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, Head Coach Andy Farrell said: “It has been a difficult selection process over the last number of weeks because a squad of 43 players have worked extremely hard throughout an eight-week pre-season period, with the group pushing each other on the pitch and becoming very close off it.
“As coaches, we are pleased with our 33-player selection and believe we have chosen the right group to represent Ireland in France. It is a hugely exciting time for the group as we prepare to depart for Tours and finalise our preparations for our Rugby World Cup opener against Romania.
“We look forward to the challenges ahead, knowing there is a huge level of support for the team from across the four Provinces, from all those in green around the world and from the thousands who will be in France backing us throughout the tournament.”
Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton added: “It is a great honour to lead this group of players to the Rugby World Cup. We have been open and honest about our ambitions for the weeks ahead and with a strong body of work behind us in pre-season, we are looking forward to travelling to France this week to fine-tune our preparations.
“We are under no illusions of the size of the task ahead, starting with Romania in our Pool opener. We will take each challenge as it comes, leaning on the experiences and lessons we have learnt as a group over the last four years, and with our supporters travelling in numbers, we will be working hard to make this a tournament to remember.”
Ireland’s Rugby World Cup campaign is live on RTE and Virgin Media in Republic of Ireland and ITV in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Ireland Squad – Rugby World Cup 2023
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University)(13)
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers)(32)
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne)(41)
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere)(39)
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College)(31)
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf)(67)
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy)(74)
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch)(37)
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne)(21)
David Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians)(52)
Jeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen)(3)
Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin University)(3)
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution)(96)
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch)(11)
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD)(54)
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD)(55)
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne)(18)
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD)(52)
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians)(47)
Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD)(21)
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon)(12)
Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution)(6)
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster)(100)
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster)(26)
Mack Hansen (Connacht/Corinthians)(16)
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers)(64)
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD)(31)
James Lowe (Leinster)(21)
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor)(13)
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen)(106)
Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas)(6)
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD)(51)
Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College)(captain)(113)
Ireland Fixtures, Rugby World Cup 2023:
- Ireland v Romania, Saturday 9 September, Stade de Bordeaux (2.30pm Irish time/3.30pm local time)
- Ireland v Tonga, Saturday 16 September, Stade de la Beaujoire (8pm Irish time/9pm local time)
- Ireland v South Africa, Saturday 23 September, Stade de France (8pm Irish time/9pm local time)
- Ireland v Scotland, Saturday 7 October, Stade de France (8pm Irish time/9pm local time).