Even 10,000km away, talk of weather is never far from Irish thoughts

Even 10,000km away, talk of weather is never far from Irish thoughts
Brothers Rhys Ruddock, left, and assistant strength & conditioning coach Ciaran Ruddock, during an Ireland rugby press Conference at the Hotel New Otani Makuhari in Chiba, Japan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile.

From lashing rain to 30-degree sunshine, Ireland have trained in all weathers since their arrival in Japan last Thursday.

Which is just as well, because trying to predict the conditions for their Rugby World Cup Pool A clash with Scotland this Sunday is a near-impossible task.

Long-range forecasts predicted torrential rain for the match at Yokohama International Stadium, but those have since altered to drier conditions.

Dry, though, is a relative term — for even when the sun shines, as it was yesterday at Ireland’s training base in Chiba, some 70km along the Tokyo Bay shoreline from the match venue, humidity levels remain high.

“You have to prepare for all situations out there,” Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek said on Monday.

The former All Black has been coaching in Japan with Top League club the NEC Green Rockets in nearby Abiko since last year and will leave his IRFU role at the end of the World Cup to join NEC full-time.

“The dampness could be there, whether it rains or not, with the humidity.

“There’s always a chance of thunderstorms for half an hour or so in the late afternoon.”

Changeable weather demands a flexible gameplan, something to which Ireland have not always adapted well, but the current squad are well prepared.

“I think you’ve got to be smart in how you approach that type of thing,” Feek said. “But if you have a brand of how you want to play, then…

We certainly have had those conversations before coming over. And I’d say most teams have thought about it. The surfaces, in terms of the quality of the grounds, they are incredible.

“There’s so much pride in the preparation of the surface, so much so that if it rains, it will be OK.”

Ireland forward Rhys Ruddock said the squad was prepared for any eventuality.

“It will definitely change tactics, I would say, and we’re going to have to prepare for all outcomes in terms of the weather,” the back-rower said yesterday.

“But we had some preparation already. It’s hard to know the weather, it’s lovely out there today but it was lashing rain the other day and I think it’s good to not only see the forecast, and that looks like it’s going to be very wet, but also to experience those conditions with the humidity, with the heat involved, and the wet ball and everything like that just so it doesn’t come as a shock.

“We might just have to adjust things on the day, we’re going to plan for best-case scenario and worst-case scenario with as little tweaking in between as we have to.

“But we’ll definitely have a plan for both. I don’t think it changes the mindset or the excitement for the game for the group, but it definitely changes the gameplan on the day.

Rob Kearney during an Ireland Rugby gym session at the Ichihara Suporeku Park in Ichihara, Japan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile.
Rob Kearney during an Ireland Rugby gym session at the Ichihara Suporeku Park in Ichihara, Japan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile.

“You’re not going to do anything that’s going to be unrealistic in the conditions, so it’s definitely a factor, but I don’t think it’s as big a factor.

“We’re used to playing in the rain, at the end of the day, and the wet, and we’ve had some big performances in the past in shocking conditions, so it’s certainly not dampening the excitement for the match anyway.”

Ruddock said that excitement was building nicely within a squad that has been together in camp since mid-June and was itching to finally get their World Cup campaign under way.

“There’s been a huge level of excitement and maybe you guys have heard about a few niggles, but the squad is in good health and good spirits.

“We’re just about over the jet lag now and training has been really sharp.

We’ve had two days of training where we’ve probably looked our best over the period and it’s building and simmering up to the weekend.

“We really targeted this game and said we’ve got four massive games to build up to the World Cup, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the first game against Scotland.

“We know how good a side they are, the quality they have within their group and how much they’ll be targeting us as well.

“So it’s really shaping up, with all things considered, to be a massive game for both teams and an exciting one as well.”

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