Rugby A win is unlikely, but Ireland might settle for emerging unscathed

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England v Ireland, Twickenham, Saturday, 3pm – Live on Sky Sports

It’s an England-Ireland game, if not as we traditionally know it. It’s merely a World Cup warm-up match but, then again, it’s still England v Ireland.

For many Irish supporters, there’s still no better away venue to win, and no better place to lose, than in this celebrated corner of South West London.

In the countries’ 50th meeting at Twickenham, a 50th Irish win over the auld enemy in 135 clashes overall certainly wouldn’t be without meaning, for it comes with the additional carrot of elevating Ireland above Wales to the top of World Rugby’s men’s rankings for the first time in history.

With Wales and New Zealand both having a rest week, a victory would see Ireland climb from third to first.

For fifth-placed England, a win could lift them to third.

A la Wales last week, earning the number one position would be a fantastic achievement, but might somehow feel less relevant coming into the World Cup.

Hence, avoiding injuries is arguably of more importance. Recall four years ago, when Ireland lost 21-13 in their final warm-up game here but emerged unscathed physically.

They were so protective of their players that Conor Murray was gone by the end of the first quarter, Johnny Sexton didn’t see it out and – finishing with three tight-heads – Tadhg Furlong played the last 10 in the back-row and Peter O’Mahony on the wing.

Come teatime today, Joe Schmidt would take a similar health bulletin augmented by strong showings from Ross Byrne and Jack Carty as well as others to give him some positive conundrums.

Yet there can’t be any holding back either, as Schmidt has admitted.

“Invariably, when you start trying to look after yourself, you get the timing slightly wrong, you’re a little bit hesitant, and that’s when you can pick up something you’d rather not have.”

“We’ll be hoping to get out

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