Monday 14 October 2019

Schmidt urges Ireland to rise above chaos as Scotland make legal threat over Japan clash


Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

As the Rugby World Cup descended into chaos yesterday, Joe Schmidt warned his Ireland players that they must focus on the task at hand and secure their place in a quarter-final by beating Samoa tomorrow.

The head coach's press conference was dominated by news of match cancellations due to the impending arrival of Super-Typhoon Hagibis on the Japanese mainland tomorrow.

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England's final Pool C match against France has been cancelled and declared a draw, meaning Eddie Jones' men finish top, while New Zealand's fixture against Italy in Toyota has also fallen victim to the conditions meaning the All Blacks will top Pool B with South Africa second.

Controversially, Scotland could be eliminated if their game in Yokohama against Japan does not go ahead on Sunday. A decision will be made on Sunday morning.

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Scottish Rugby are believed to be threatening legal action to ensure the game goes ahead. "We're willing to do whatever it takes to get this game on," a spokesman said. "For the integrity of the sport and this tournament, we've got to find a way to deliver on our undertaking to stage this game."

If it does not go ahead, one point against Samoa would be enough for Ireland to qualify in second, while Japan would be guaranteed to top the pool. That would put Ireland in a quarter-final against New Zealand tomorrow week. And Schmidt said having the weekend off will suit the All Blacks, England and France who are already in the last eight.

"When you've had a long lead-in like we've had and we've had some games concertinaed together quite closely, I think it's always an advantage to get a longer lead-in," he said.

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"I think it would be the opinion of any coach that you ask. I did read a little bit on Eddie Jones. He looked fairly disappointed that he was going to head off on a mini-camp and do some good training on the Saturday and have a few beers.

"So while they're doing that we'll be rolling our sleeves up trying to combat a Samoa side that has heaps of talent and will be inevitably physical because that's how they play the game and that's how the game tends to be played at the top level."

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