Rugby World Cup briefing: Read our team’s dispatches from Ireland’s loss to Japan

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

Host nation pull off shock victory in Shizuoka to leave Joe Schmidt’s men reeling. Video: IMG/Rugby World Cup Limited

Uh, oh. Well that certainly wasn’t in the script. After a convincing win against Scotland last week looked to have put Ireland well on their way to winning Pool A at the Rugby World Cup, along came the hosts Japan and blitzed Joe Schmidt’s men in one of the upsets for the ages. The Brave Blossoms were superb, Ireland were fairly dreadful and now World Cup hopes are up in the air. Ireland are still well on course for the quarter-finals but the prospects of a meeting with the All Blacks have now become signifcantly more realistic, as Patrick Madden breaks down in the Pool A permutations. Japan are no strangers to World Cup upsets having stunned South Africa four years ago and, on a memorable night in Sizuoka, they took their intensity and tempo to Ireland early on and never allowed Joe Schmidt’s men the room to breathe. “This was, for sure, some day for Japanese rugby and as an extension some day for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but it was a deeply disappointing and damaging defeat for Ireland,” writes Gerry Thornley from the Ecopa Stadium.

In the Land of the Rising Sun the Rugby World Cup hasn’t made too much of a dent so far (as Keith Duggan outlines in his big read this morning) but this victory could well change that. “At the gong, the red and white jerseys celebrated like they had just won the World Cup. In a way, they had. The vanquished Irish were hugely respectful afterwards before leaving the field to get their heads straight. Japan’s Blossoms lined up to take a famous, famous bow to their countrymen,” writes Keith Duggan from Shizuoka. The fallout for Ireland is set to be pretty hefty but there is no time to dwell as Russia await on Thursday in a match that is now looking vital for Ireland to win with a bonus point. Joe Schmidt is bound to make some changes for that match and some of today’s players will have a lot to prove, as Gavin Cummiskey writes in his player ratings.

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