Japan win great for RWC, admits Ireland coach

Joe Schmidt (Getty)
Joe Schmidt (Getty)

Kobe - Joe Schmidt admitted Japan's stunning Rugby World Cup win over Ireland was "fantastic for the tournament" - even though he wishes his side had not been on the receiving end of the 'Shock in Shizuoka'.

Four years on from their 'Miracle of Brighton' victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup in England, Japan again upset the formbook with a 19-12 defeat of Ireland in Shizuoka last Saturday.

"If it wasn't us that lost the game, I'd say, 'Wow, that's fantastic for the tournament'," Ireland coach Schmidt told reporters on Tuesday.

"Everywhere we've gone, the Japanese people have been incredibly excited about the game. They're delighted with us, obviously, and I think loads of interest has been spiked by that."

Japan's victory appears to have set up a three-way contest with Ireland and Scotland for the two quarter-final places on offer from a tightly contested Pool A.

"It's great for our pool if you're an independent observer because it's thrown the pool wide open and everyone's chasing Japan in our pool now," said Schmidt.

The Ireland boss has made 11 personnel changes and two positional switches to his side for Thursday's match in Kobe against group minnows Russia, with fit-again flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, the reigning World Player of the Year, captaining his country for the first time.

Ireland may require bonus points, achieved by scoring four tries in a match, as well as wins against both Russia and Samoa to be certain of making the last eight. But Schmidt warned against forcing the issue.

"We have to stay around our performance-orientated goals, because for us we can't put anything on the scoreboard without getting the things we need to put in place; that we build the pressure or that we create the opportunities from," the New Zealander said.

"I felt the first 20 minutes last weekend was very good, we got the right field position and turned a few balls over which was frustrating.

"But we converted two tries on the back of some really good line breaks and maybe that was to our detriment because we kind of stepped back after that and didn't play with the same front-foot.

"You can't afford to do that against a quality opposition."

Schmidt, however, revealed his frustration with French official Jerome Garces, a touch judge on Saturday, who will be the referee for the Ireland-Russia match.

"We were penalised for offside four times and we've now got the feedback that three of those were incorrect calls... It's pretty hard to keep getting off the line and onto the front foot when you are getting those calls.

"Two of them were from an AR (assistant referee) who is going to be refereeing us on Thursday, so we know we're going to have to be on our best behaviour."

Tournament rules state roofs on grounds such as the Kobe Misaki Stadium, the venue for Thursday's match, must remain shut for World Cup fixtures.

Sweltering conditions have made ball-handling difficult, with Scotland's 34-0 win over Samoa at the ground on Monday notable for numerous knock-ons by both sides.

"Yeah we watched the game last night and it looked very slippy," said Sexton, who missed the Japan defeat with a thigh injury. "It's something we're going to have to be mindful of.

"Even when you play outside the ball gets pretty slippy.

"Against Japan, in the first half (the ball) was bone dry but the longer the game went on the sweatier everyone got. The ball was like a bar of soap," he added.

"It's something we have to be conscious of, playing smartly - we can't just go out and run everything."



15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Peter O'Mahony, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Jean Kleyn, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Jordan Larmour



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England 219
Pakistan 326 & 137/8 (44 ov)
loading... Live
England 219
Pakistan 326 & 137/8 (44 ov)
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