Rugby World Cup: Typhoon fears eased as Ireland prep for Samoa
Storm Hagibis likely to miss Fukuoka while Ireland squad is nearly back to full health
Jacob Stockdale goes for a walk in Fukuoka ahead of Ireland’s clash with Samoa. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Rumours of a Typhoon forcing a change of location for Ireland’s final pool game against Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday (kick-off 7.45pm local time/11.45am Irish) are likely to prove premature.
On all available meteorological evidence, which admittedly is rather changeable hereabouts, Storm Hagibis (the 19th typhoon of Japan’s rainy season) is veering eastwards toward Tokyo at the weekend but will have abated by the time Japan play Scotland on Sunday.
However the impending typhoon could yet cause chaos to the final round of pool matches, with two games scheduled for Friday and four on Saturday. Of those, the England-France Pool A decider on Saturday and the Japan-Scotland game in Yokohama are now seemingly the most imperiled, although the worst of the storm may have abated by Sunday.
In addition, of course, Typhoon Hagibis could also cause disruption to the travel plans of many fans.
The game’s governing body and the tournament organisers have issued the following statement: “World Rugby, Japan Rugby 2019 and our weather information experts continue to closely monitor the direction and strength of Typhoon Hagibis (Typhoon 19).
“It remains too early to fully predict the movement and impact of the storm, however the latest modelling by our weather information experts indicates that it is now tracking north and east and will bring strong winds and heavy rain to Tokyo and surrounding areas on 12 October.”
“Public and team safety is our number one priority. While we have robust contingency plans in place for pool matches, such plans, if required, will only be actioned if the safety of teams, fans, and workforce can be guaranteed. It would be inappropriate to comment on any contingency plans at this stage.
“We will continue to closely monitor this developing situation in partnership with our weather information experts, local authorities, transport providers and the teams, and will provide a further update tomorrow. Fans are advised to monitor official Rugby World Cup channels for any updates.”
While Storm Hagibis is set to take in the southern part of the island of Kyushu on the Pacific Ocean, it may now miss the capital Fukuoka, which is located on the northern coastline of the island on the Genkai Sea, altogether.
As scrum coach Greg Feek has forewarned all along, weather forcecasts are notoriously changeable until at least two days before kick-off, but the up-to-date signs are that the Ireland-Samoa game will not be unduly affected.
The Irish management have always adopted a shrug-of-the-shoulders approach to the latest dire weather warnings, as they did when similar long range forecasts thankfully proved un founded before the New Zealand-South Africa and Ireland-Scotland games on the opening weekend.
Similarly, forwards coach Simon Easterby commented on Tuesday: “We’re probably about as informed as you guys are in terms of where it’s heading. By all accounts things can change reasonably quickly - but we are playing here on Saturday against Samoa unless we’re otherwise informed.
“That is how we have prepared all week and how we’re still preparing. We may know more later on, or tomorrow, but as far as we’re concerned we’re planning to take on Samoa here in Fukuoka.”
Ireland do so with something resembling a fully fit 31-man squad for the first time in the tournament, with every player training fully on Tuesday save for Jordi Murphy, whose popped rib cartilage is not as bad as first feared.
“Yeah - I think it was only Jordi - who has done really well to recover and he has done a bit of running today and yesterday, he’s the only one who has missed out on training and he hopes to train on Thursday so we’re in pretty good shape at this stage,” said Easterby.
Ireland approach this Pool A finale against the Samoans knowing that they need a win to secure a place in the quarter-finals, and hence, when asked what they were looking for on Saturday, Easterby said: “Well, a win would be first and foremost.
“I think there are certain elements in our game against Russia that we’d like to think we could have done better, but we have to be prepared to deal with a real physical Samoan side, a side that have shown in parts to be really good. They’ll want to finish the tournament on a high and they’ll feel like maybe they haven’t quite hit their straps - as we feel we maybe haven’t quite hit ours, probably since the Scotland game and maybe the first 20 minutes of the Japan game.
“So there’s so much to play for. Obviously there’s the potential for us of a World Cup quarter-final to play for and I think we’re just thinking about getting our house in order and making sure that we perform to our best. We have to deal with the physical, abrasive and very talented Samoan team to do that.”