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It’s going to get heavy in a hurry, this Rugby World Cup. Day 2 throws two of the game’s real heavyweights, New Zealand and South Africa, into hand-to-hand combat in Yokohama for their first ever tournament pool meeting. Talk about front-loading!
So where are the southern hemisphere heavy hitters? As part of the Irish Examiner’s World Cup coverage, we’ve commissioned beat writers from several of the leading nations to provide insight and opinion from around the team camps. In his opening dispatch, South African writer Craig Ray believes the Boks have Steve Hansen worried, but his New Zealand counterpart Gregor Paul disagrees - in fact, there’s a zen-like calm around the All Blacks camp, Paul writes in tomorrow's paper.
With hosts Japan eventually dousing the feisty Russian challenge on Day 1, our team of writers switch focus to Ireland’s Sunday AM opener against Scotland. There’s not just one thing you can almost bank on from Gregor Townsend’s men - in fact there’s ten, believes our Scottish beat writer David Barnes in this piece for the Examiner’s World Cup preview magazine.
Donal Lenihan knows a thing or two about World Cup openers, and it doesn’t always have to be pretty. But it must culminate in a win, he writes tomorrow in advance of Sunday’s 8.45am kick-off in Yokohama.
Lenihan and Ronan O’Gara scrutinise the merits of the leading nations in Japan in a special World Cup preview podcast, in association with Nissan, which is live now.
The Irish Examiner’s Brendan O’Brien and rugby correspondent Simon Lewis are with the Irish squad in Yokohama ahead of Sunday’s game. O’Brien believes centre Garry Ringrose has the all-round talent to minimise the loss of Robbie Henshaw, while Lewis senses a discernible buzz around Joe Schmidt’s squad. He believes confidence is brimming.
Putting a brake on expectation, however, is Garry Doyle, who delves deep into the ghosts of World Cups past for Ireland - tournaments littered with regret, remorse, pride and pain. Read all this and more on tomorrow's Irish Examiner Sport supplement.
And if you are still getting your head around all the rugby lingo, Larry Ryan has you sorted with his glossary of terms - and what they actually mean.