Angus Hyde UWS NEWS
As the host nation take on Russia on the opening day of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Scotland will be eagerly looking on as they prepare for their hardest game of the groups, facing Ireland on Sunday in Yokohama. The Six Nations rivals both head into the game as firm favourites to top the group, as long as no upsets from Japan, Samoa or newcomers Russia occur.
Joe Schmidt’s final tenure as Ireland head coach starts with a number of notable injuries to his roster with an announced team missing huge names such as experienced duo Rob Kierney and Keith Earls.
Another big loss will come in the form of mercurial full-back Robbie Henshaw missing from the mix, with Leinster team mate Jordan Larmour filling in the no 15 position for Ireland, giving the Irish a more than competent replacement.
Connacht Club President Ted Carty however lamented the loss of Henshaw’s power and strength in the centre as well as his role within the Irish setup.
“Henshaw is a huge, huge loss [for Ireland], I think that Ireland might just edge it but I do expect both sides to have their chances”
He continued by claiming that the two teams were the best in the pool and backs both teams to do well in the tournament, performance permitting that is.
”I’d be very surprised if Scotland and Ireland don’t qualify to the Quarter Finals, but if you want to get to a semi-final you have to beat a New Zealand, a South Arica or an England, who are all very strong teams, Scotland and Ireland have to perform against these teams, which you never know on their day”
The Scottish side, training in Tokyo, have announced a first class lineup including mainstays like Greig Laidlaw, Finn Russell and superstar Stuart Hogg, as well as promising World Cup debutants like Darcy Graham and Blair Kinghorn.
The Scots missed out on having Fagerson in the pack, as well as George Horne being ruled out of the match day squad.
Scotland look to make good on their first game in Japan with Ireland missing crucial players, but should be wary to underestimate the quality of Ireland’s backup options as the face-off could potentially decide an early crown to the victor.
With strong performances against Georgia and France in the Summer Tests, Gregor Townsend’s men now face a challenge to get the result in their favour, training hard to adjust to the new hot conditions in the Southern hemisphere. The former Glasgow Warriors coach spoke about his players preparations at the squad announcement this morning.
“We’ve had a really productive week’s preparation in Nagasaki ahead of our arrival in Tokyo, with our players adapting to the time zone and weather conditions out here in Japan.
”Our team has a lot of experience playing together in major games for Scotland, with a bench capable of making a difference when required.”
“That cohesion, experience and leadership is very valuable in a build-up to a match of this magnitude as well as during the 80 minutes on Sunday.”
UWS News spoke to experienced journalist Ron Evans to get his take on the upcoming match.
Following Japan’s confident win over Russia in the tournament opener, all eyes look upon the home nations to contest in an exciting pool A within the Land of the Rising Sun.
The two titans clash on Sunday at the Yokohama International Stadium at 8:45 BST, broadcasted by ITV.