2019 Rugby World Cup: Japan vs Ireland Preview

Japan meets Ireland in a Pool A match at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Shizuoka Prefecture on September 28. Kickoff is at 16:15 local (3:15 ET). In the U.S., the match may be viewed on NBC Sports Gold on-demand as part of an RWC subscription package.

In their opening matches, the Brave Blossoms defeated Russia 30-10, while Ireland beat Scotland 27-3.

Japan Head Coach Jamie Joseph has made five changes and two positional changes from their opening RWC match against Russia.

Pieter Labuschagne will captain the side with flanker Michael Leitch moving to the reserves.

Amanaki Mafi will make his first appearance for Japan at number eight after missing the opener against Russia. Prop Jiwon Koo, second-row Luke Thompson and full-back Ryohei Yamanaka make their first starts after coming off the bench against Russia. Kazuki Himeno moves from number eight to flanker, and William Tupou from full-back to winger.

Along with Leitch, prop Asaeli Ai Valu, second-row Wimpie van der Walt and wing Lomano Lemeki drop to the reserves, while flanker Hendrik Tui has been left out.

Winger Kenki Fukuoka, who hurt his right calf in a warm-up game against South Africa on 6 September, is still being rested.

Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt has made four changes in the backs for the match against Japan, while the forwards remain unchanged.

Jack Carty replaces Johnny Sexton, who was substituted early in the second half against Scotland. The Connacht fly-half will make only his second test start.

Inside-center Chris Farrell, who replaced Bundee Aki early in the first half when Aki failed a head injury assessment, gains the start.

Keith Earls replaces Andrew Conway on the wing and Rob Kearney is at fullback. Both were not included in the match against Scotland.

Peter O’Mahony, who also went off against Scotland after failing an HIA, is included at blindside flanker. Both O’Mahony and Aki received clearance to play in subsequent HIA tests this week, but Aki has been held out of this match.

Joey Carbery, widely regarded before the tournament as the preferred back-up to Sexton, is likely to make his Rugby World Cup debut after being named on the bench. Carbery has recovered from an ankle injury sustained in Ireland’s first warm-up game against Italy on 10 August.

Number eight Jack Conan, who impressed off the bench, misses out on the 23 after Schmidt said he had had his foot stood on at training this week.

Second-row Iain Henderson, outstanding against the Scots, will win his 50th Ireland cap.


Japan: 1. Keita Inagaki 2. Shota Horie 3. Jiwon Koo 4. Luke Thompson 5. James Moore 6. Kazuki Himeno 7. Pieter Labuschagne (capt.) 8. Amanaki Lelei Mafi 9. Yutaka Nagare 10. Yu Tamura 11. William Tupou 12. Ryoto Nakamura 13. Timothy Lafaele 14. Kotaro Matsushima 15. Ryohei Yamanaka 16. Atsushi Sakate 17. Isileli Nakajima 18. Asaeli Ai Valu 19. Wimpie van der Walt 20. Michael Leitch 21. Fumiaki Tanaka 22. Rikiya Matsuda 23. Lomano Lava Lemeki

Ireland: 1. Cian Healy 2. Rory Best (capt.) 3. Tadhg Furlong 4. Iain Henderson 5. James Ryan 6. Peter O’Mahony 7. Josh Van der Flier 8. CJ Stander 9. Conor Murray 10. Jack Carty 11. Jacob Stockdale 12. Chris Farrell 13. Garry Ringrose 14. Keith Earls 15. Rob Kearney 16. Sean Cronin 17. David Kilcoyne 18. Andrew Porter 19. Tadgh Beirne 20. Rhys Ruddock 21. Luke McGrath 22. Joey Carbery 23. Jordan Larmour

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant