They're the top two nations in men's rugby, and experts are tipping them to meet in the final of the game's biggest tournament.

A panel of experts from the Telegraph unanimously selected the All Blacks and Ireland to contest the final in Japan this year as the All Blacks look to make it a third straight World Cup victory.

The six panellists all predicted the All Blacks would beat England in the semifinals while Ireland would get the better of Wales on their route to the main event. Four of the pundits believed the All Blacks would reign supreme again, while the other two were tipping Ireland to win their first title.

The All Blacks and Ireland have met just three times in the past six years, and last year's clash in Dublin was one of the most anticipated international fixtures in recent years. Ireland have had the All Blacks' number in recent times, winning two of the last three tests between the sides.


It would be an impressive change of fortunes should Ireland claim the World Cup. Having contested every tournament since 1987, they have never progressed beyond the quarter-finals.

Ireland have reached the knockout stages in seven of their eight campaigns, being twice eliminated by Australia, France and Argentina, and once by Wales.

The All Blacks have only failed to reach the semifinals once - being eliminated in the quarterfinals by France in 2007. They are three-time champions, having won the last two tournaments as well as the inaugural World Cup in 1987.

Telegraph experts:
Final: All Blacks v Ireland (Six votes)
Semifinals: All Blacks v England, Ireland v Wales (Six votes)
Pool winners: Ireland, New Zealand, England, Wales (Six votes)
Pool runners up: Scotland, South Africa (Six votes), Australia (5 votes), Argentina (Four votes), France (2 votes), Fiji (1 vote).