Not that Ireland haven’t enough to be getting on with, but there was little evidence in Scotland’s 34-0 defeat of Samoa in Kobe today that Gregor Townsend’s men are ready to rain on Japan’s World Cup parade come their decisive Pool A clash at the World Cup on Sunday October 13th.
That eventuality, of course, appears the only route possible for Ireland to avoid New Zealand in a World Cup quarter-final - presuming there’s no more slip-ups from Joe Schmidt’s men against Russia this Thursday or Samoa on Saturday week.
Maybe we are getting a little over-heated about our opposition in the last eight. Whatever will be, will be. For the Scots just getting there is a big deal now. “If we can play like we did tonight, and improve a couple more aspects, we'll very much be in this World Cup,” Townsend said afterwards.
Read Brendan O’Brien’s thoughts from Kobe on the game here.
The Irish side to face Russia will be named at 7am Tuesday Irish time and all the expectations are that Johnny Sexton will be back in the pivotal ten role, possibly alongside his Leinster colleague Luke McGrath. The value of Sexton was evident in his absence last Saturday, believes Ronan O’Gara, writing for irishexaminer.com today: “Johnny is a good strategist. He would have got the picture of what was in front of him on Saturday an awful lot better than Carty or even Joey Carbery, and that’s the value of big-game experience.”
Irish Examiner staffers in Japan, Brendan O'Brien and Simon Lewis also employ the distance of 48 hours on our Rugby World Cup podcast to go through the good, the bad and the downright ugly from that Shizuoka stunner. And we hear from CJ Stander on Ireland's options and stadium humidity. Thanks to Nissan Ireland for their support on the podcast, and with Donal Lenihan’s ‘Daily Donal’ segment, where our man samples the swift delights of the Bullet Train. What about this throwback to the drop goal, he asks?
Now read on, as Con Houlihan used to say: “What goes on tour comes off on tour. That's the mantra now after the visit to a traditional Japanese onsen, or hot spring to you and me, by a troop of the Irish media corp and our Scottish brethren. Yep, over a dozen pasty westerners walking about naked in a giant bathing complex.”
Are you really sure you want to read the rest of Brendan O’Brien’s Letter from Kobe?