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Rugby World Cup: Ireland to beat England in semi-final but All Blacks to retain William Webb Ellis trophy, predicts Brian O'Driscoll

Irish rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll is predicting that his former team-mates will reach the Rugby World Cup Final, but believes the reigning champions New Zealand will retain their trophy.

The All Blacks go into the tournament as favourites and should Richie McCaw lift the William Webb Ellis trophy, they will become the first side to ever retain the World Cup.

Joe Schmidt's Ireland will be quietly confident of reaching at least a place in the semi-finals, something the country has never achieved before.

Successive defeats in the World Cup warm-ups may have dampened expectations somewhat, but back-to-back Six Nations titles ensures that the squad is confident of going far.

The pool is likely to be decided in final fixture against France and unbeaten in their last four tussles with les Bleus, victory should avoid a clash with the All Blacks in the last eight, with Argentina more the likely the opponents.

Ireland's record try scorer thinks a clash with near neighbours and hosts England awaits in the last four.

"I'm saying an Ireland – England semi-final and Ireland – New Zealand final, with Ireland to lose," he told

Former Munster and Ireland scrum-half is predicting Australia, South Africa, New Zealand to make the final four.

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