Rugby World Cup - Ireland v Samoa: Irish kick-off time, TV channels and more

Joe Schmidt’s side know a victory in Fukuoka should ensure their place in quarter-finals

Samoa perform the Siva Tau before their 38-19 defeat to Japan. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty

Samoa perform the Siva Tau before their 38-19 defeat to Japan. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty

 

The final fixtures of the 2019 Rugby World Cup pool stages approach (well, those that have survived) – and Ireland’s fate is yet to be decided.

Heading into the tournament most would have assumed Joe Schmidt’s men would be done and dusted by now, able to put their feet up and relax while the rest of Pool A scrapped it out for a runners-up spot.

The reality has been very different. An opening win over Scotland has been followed by a defeat to Japan and an unconvincing win over Russia.

This means the pressure is well and truly on as Ireland take on Samoa on Saturday. A victory is almost certain to secure a place in the quarter-finals, but a shock defeat could mean an early plane ride home.

As well as a result, pshychologically Ireland could also do witha statement performance against the Pacific Islanders.

They have looked laboured and limp in their last two outings, and desperately need something to spark their campaign into life and return some zest ahead of a potential quarter-final date with the All Blacks or South Africa.

Now they meet a Samoa side whose tournament is over but who have nothing to lose against Tier One opposition.

It’s a fixture fraught with danger but with the potential to breathe new life into Ireland’s tournament – and here is everything you need to know.

What is it?

Ireland’s final Pool A fixture of the Rugby World Cup, against Samoa at the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka.

When is it?

Saturday, October 12th.

What time is it on?

The match kicks off at 11.45am Irish time (7.45pm local time).

How can I follow it?

The match is live on three different telly channels – RTÉ 2 (coverage starts at 11am), Eir Sport (11.15am) and ITV (11.15am).

As ever, you can also follow the match on the Irish Times liveblog, which will be live from 11.15am.

The story so far

Ireland opened their tournament with a dominant 27-3 win over Scotland in Yokohama but were rocked by hosts Japan a week later, losing 19-12 in Shizuoka. They steadied the ship somewhat with a 35-0 bonus-point win over Russia in their third fixture, but the performance failed to ease any of the serious doubts raised by that defeat to the Brave Blossoms.

Jacob Stockdale in Fukuoka on Tuesday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Jacob Stockdale in Fukuoka on Tuesday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Samoa, meanwhile, started their campaign with a 34-9 win over Russia, a fixture marred by a tournament-ending knee injury to number eight Afaesetiti Amosa and yellow cards for Motu Matu’u and Ray Lee-lo, which saw them both receive subsequent bans. Next up they were beaten 34-0 by Scotland – the first time they have failed to score in a World Cup fixture, before they went down 38-19 against Japan last weekend. That defeat ended in controversy, with referee Jaco Peyper penalising the Samoans for a crooked feed at a five-metre scrum, which allowed Japan to score a crucial fourth try and secure a bonus point.

Ireland fixtures

Sunday September 22nd, Ireland 27 Scotland 3, Yokohama

Saturday September 28th, Japan 19 Ireland 12, Shizuoka

Thursday October 3rd, Ireland 35 Russia 0, Kobe City

Saturday October 12th, Ireland v Samoa, Fukuoka

Samoa fixtures

Tuesday September 24th, Russia 9 Samoa 34, Kumagaya

Monday September 30th, Scotland 34 Samoa 0, Kobe

Saturday October 5th, Japan 38 Samoa 19, Toyota

Saturday October 12th, Ireland v Samoa, Fukuoka

The permutations

Following Scotland’s 61-0 bonus point win over Russia on Wednesday, the Pool A qualification picture has become somewhat clearer. But that’s not to say it doesn’t remain extremely complicated!

And to add to the uncertainty of the permuations, we won’t know until six hours before the scheduled kick-off in Scotland’s clash with Japan on Sunday morning whether or not that match will even go ahead as Japan’s east coast braces for Super Typhoon Habigis.

As things stand, and if that match goes ahead, Ireland, Japan and Scotland can all still make it to the quarter-finals, in either first or second place, but it’s the tournament hosts who currently occupy the driving seat after three wins from three.

Japan have 14 points, Ireland are second on 11 while Scotland are in third on 10 points. Ireland meet Samoa on Saturday before Japan take on Scotland (weather permitting) on Sunday.

A bonus point win for Ireland would guarantee them a place in the last eight, regardless of how Sunday’s match goes, but a failure to get all five points leaves their fate in the lap of the gods.

CJ Stander carries during Ireland’s 35-0 win over Russia. Photograph: Buddhika/Weerasinghe/EPA
CJ Stander carries during Ireland’s 35-0 win over Russia. Photograph: Buddhika/Weerasinghe/EPA

Should they only reach 15 points, then it all depends on how Japan get on against Scotland. A win for Japan would see them top the group with Ireland second. However, should Scotland win, and Ireland fail to secure a bonus point, it has the potential to get very messy indeed.

A win for Scotland with a bonus point would see Ireland top the group with Scotland in second. But if Japan manage to pick up a losing bonus point, then all three teams finish on 15 points. In that scenario Scotland would almost certainly have the most match points (the Scots currently have a points difference of +71 with Ireland on +52 and Japan on +46), and go through as pool winners. But as points difference is only used to determine top spot when three teams are level, Japan would take second place as head-to-head is used to decide second and third.

Still with us? Good. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Japan could pick up two losing bonus points (one losing bonus, one for four tries), finishing on 16 points, leaving Ireland and Scotland tied for second on 15 points. In that case, Ireland would progress on the head-to-head record against Scotland.

To complicate matters even more, Ireland could also lose to Samoa and still qualify as runners-up – providing Japan beat Scotland, and the Scots don’t pick up two bonus points.

To simplify (somewhat) – if Ireland win with a bonus point we can put the calculators away. But if all three teams finish on 15 points, Scotland will top the group and Ireland will be eliminated.

However, if Habigis causes the cancellation of Scotland’s meeting with Japan, the hosts would automatically receive two points for the 0-0 draw and therefore top Pool A on head-to-head record, leaving Ireland in second place and facing a quarter-final tie against the All Blacks next Saturday.

Team news

Ireland

On Thursday morning Joe Schmidt confirmed that Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton will equal the Peter Stringer-Ronan O’Gara combination as the most prolific halfback partnership in the history of Irish rugby when they start their 55th Test together against Samoa in the Fukuoka Stadium.

In total Schmidt has made 11 changes for the final Pool A clash with Robbie Henshaw making his tournament debut.

Ireland: Jordan Larmour (Leinster); Keith Earls (Munster), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Bundee Aki (Connacht), Jacob Stockdale (Ulster); Johnny Sexton (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster); Cian Healy (Leinster), Rory Best (Ulster, capt), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster); Iain Henderson (Ulster), James Ryan (Leinster); Tadhg Beirne (Munster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster).

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Jean Kleyn, Peter O’Mahony, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Andrew Conway.

You can read Gerry Thornley’s full dispatch from Schmidt’s team announcement here.

Samoa

Tim Nanai-Williams has shaken off a concussive blow sustained in controversial circumstances against Japan to return at fullback in what Ireland will find a very difficult backline to break through.

Samoa: Tim Nanai-Williams; Ah See Tuala, Alapati Leiua, Henry Taefu, Ed Fidow; UJ Seuteni, Dwayne Polataivao; Logovi’i Mulipola, Seilala Lam, Michael Alaalatoa; Teofilo Paulo, Kane Le’aupepe; Chris Vui, TJ Ioane, Jack Lam (capt).

Replacements: Ray Niuia, Paul Alo-Emile, Jordan Lay, Piula Fa’asalele, Josh Tyrell, Pele Cowley, Tusi Pisi, Kieron Fonotia.

Gavin Cummiskey was at the team announcement on Thursday morning and you can read his take here.

Past meetings

Ireland have met Samoa five times – although this is the first time they have played each other at the Rugby World Cup.

The head-to-head record is 4-1 in Ireland’s favour, with the Pacific Islanders landing one victory – running out 40-25 winners at Lansdowne Road on November 12th 1996.

Bookending the Joe Schmidt era?

Joe Schmidt’s golden Ireland tenure began with a 40-9 victory in Dublin on November 9th 2013, against? Samoa.

If things don’t go to plan on Ireland, then Samoa could be the side who bookended the Schmidt era. . .

Joe Schmidt speaks to his Ireland side before his first gama in charge against Samoa on November 9th 2013. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Joe Schmidt speaks to his Ireland side before his first gama in charge against Samoa on November 9th 2013. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

A super Saturday ... until Super Typhoon Hagibis spoiled the party

After a relatively barren week things were really set to hot up on Saturday with the All Blacks facing Italy before England met France. However, due to the weather those two games have been cancelled leaving Ireland’s fixture against Samoa at 11.45am Irish time as the only match. Immediately following that, Ireland’s footballers take on Georgia in Tibilisi in a crunch Euro 2020 qualifier (2pm).

At least you can get a lie-in now before an Irish double header.

What’s the betting?

Ireland 1-40 Draw 60-1 Samoa 11-1 (Handicap: Ireland (-27) 10-11).

Who’s on the whistle?

Australia’s Nic Berry is charge, with Romain Poite and Brendon Pickerill his assistants and Rowan Kitt the TMO.

How’s the weather looking?

This match is one of the few over the weekend set to escape the clutches of Super Typhoon Hagibis due to Fukuoka’s location in the south west of the country, far away from the eye of the storm. As it stands, the forecast for Fukuoka is temperatures of up to 25 degrees and a chance of rain – it’s unlikely to be as humid and gruelling as Shizuoka and Kobe.

Do say

Ireland are through - Japan versus Scotland should be a great watch (if it goes ahead)!

Don’t say

Excuse me, which way to the airport?

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