Change in weather could be boost Ireland need; United fail to get a shot on target

The Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the Rugby World Cup with The Irish Times sports team

Ireland got the bonus point win they needed against Canada. Photograph: Getty Images

Ireland got the bonus point win they needed against Canada. Photograph: Getty Images

Ireland got back to winning ways against Russia yesterday but it was far from pretty. In his column this morning (Subscriber Only), Liam Toland explains how Ireland are being pulled into dogfights and not managing a way out: “the root of the problem is difficult to pinpoint. Off field management, on field communications, on field culture, poor broken field preparation with overreliance on set piece gainline wins.” Gavin Cummiskey believes the team’s hopes still hinge on their porcelain doll Johnny Sexton: “Successful Joe Schmidt sides - all of them up until 2019 - needed Johnny Sexton to guide them from the start, middle and glorious ending. It’s an undisguisable fact central to the ongoing malaise.”

Today the Irish squad relocate to Fukuoka, ahead of their final pool match against Samoa on Saturday week. Perhaps a change is as good as a rest? The squad now have a change in venue, and maybe a change in the weather. “I think we are adjusting to the conditions,” says Schmidt. “I have heard that it does start to cool off in October. It’s October now so I’m hopeful the conditions will start to change a little bit now and we won’t have to adjust as much to them.” This morning our possible quarter-final opponents South Africa take on Italy (Kick-off 10.45am), and their captain Siya Kolisi says team mate Eben Etzebeth is focused solely on the crunch Pool B clash despite allegations of racial and physical abuse levelled at the giant lock. Also in action today, in the Pro14, is Leinster. They welcome back James Lowe for their first home match of the new season against the Ospreys.

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