RWC 2019

Japan team inspired by 'Mr Rugby' Hirao

Former Japan captain and head coach Hirao – nicknamed "Mr Rugby" in his homeland – died three years ago this Sunday aged 53 after a battle with cancer.

Full-back Ryohei Yamanaka played under Hirao, who represented the Brave Blossoms at the 1987, 1991 and 1995 World Cup, at Kobe Steelers.

"[The quarter-final] is the date he passed away, so there'll be a game on an important day for me as well," he said.

Japan's scrum coach Shin Hasegawa was handed his international breakthough by Hirao during his playing days.

All Blacks team to play Ireland named

The in-form Anton Lienert-Brown and Jack Goodhue will partner in the midfield in an otherwise experienced All Blacks line up.

Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Nepo Laulala make up the front row, Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock are the starting locks, while Ardie Savea, Sam Cane and Kieran Read are the loose forward trio.

Aaron Smith has been named the starting halfback, Richie Mo'unga at first five, George Bridge and Sevu Reece are on the wings and Beauden Barrett is at fullback.

Hansen happy to avoid in-form Japan

Tournament hosts Japan qualified for the knockout stages for the first time in their history, Sunday's hard-fought victory over Scotland also seeing them finish top of Pool A.

The 28-21 result means the Brave Blossoms next face South Africa, who were second in Pool B, rather than New Zealand, with the two-time reigning champions instead going up against Ireland. 

Pleased to avoid one of the in-form teams still left standing, Hansen praised the way Japan's players had lifted their nation after the devastation caused by Typhoon Hagibis.

All Blacks need to step up - Read

The All Blacks will face Ireland on Saturday night in Tokyo for a place in the semifinals.

Read said knockout rugby is the ultimate leveller and while some teams are in better form than others, that won't necessarily mean those teams will win this weekend.

The teams that will progress to the final four will be the one's who're mentally strong and handle the pressure best during crucial moments in the quarterfinals.

"The eight teams are capable of winning the Cup physically.

Ireland thrash Samoa

Ireland knew maximum points in their final Pool A match at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium on Saturday would see them through at the expense of Japan or Scotland, who are set to meet on Sunday unless the decisive match is cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Joe Schmidt's side had the bonus point secured just before half-time, captain Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong crossing before the excellent Sexton scored a brace of tries.

Aki became the first Ireland player to be sent off in a World Cup match for a dangerous tackle on Ulupano Seuteni but it did not prove to be costly.

Jack Lam puts Manu before money

The 31 year old, who played the first of his 37 tests in 2013, is out of contract after being released by the Bristol Bears in May.

Lam, who had been at the club since 2014, captained the side in the early part of the 2016-17 English Premiership campaign but was one of 11 players to be shown the door by his coach and cousin Pat Lam, including fellow Samoa international Tusi Pisi.

He received offers from a couple of clubs in France but said he turned them down in order to play for Samoa.

"It was a no-brainer for me.

Samoa planning no "special treatment" for Bundee Aki

The 29 year old moved to Ireland five years ago and has played 22 tests for his adopted nation since 2017.

Manu captain Jack Lam said they knew Aki but would't be paying him any more attention than the rest of the Irish team.

"No special presents for him, he'll get the same treatment as everyone else. Most of the boys are pretty close with Bundee - a couple of boys have seen him during the week - so we're still friends off the field but once everyone crosses the line they're all the same," Lam said.

Rugby World: Cup Ireland v Samoa

Saturday's encounter in Fukuoka was in doubt due to Typhoon Hagibis, which has forced the cancellation of England's encounter with France and New Zealand's clash against Italy.

However, the match is set to go ahead as scheduled, even though doubt remains over whether pool rivals Japan and Scotland will be able to play out their crucial game on Sunday.

Ireland sit second in Pool A, three points behind hosts Japan and one ahead of Scotland, meaning a bonus-point win over Samoa for coach Schmidt's team would be enough to secure progression into the last eight.

Jones content with cancellation

England were set to play their final Pool C match in Yokohama on Saturday, but with Typhoon Hagibis set to make landfall, the game - along with New Zealand's meeting with Italy - has been called off. Japan's crunch Pool A contest with Scotland on Sunday is also under threat.

Although Jones is disappointed the France match will not go ahead, he said the extra time to prepare for a quarter-final against Australia or Wales has given his side a fantastic opportunity to be at their best in the knockout stage.

Typhoon Hagibis set to wreck Ireland's quarter-finals hopes

A typhoon-watch warning has been issued for their final pool game against Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday night.

Typhoon Hagibis is developing off the south coast of Japan, and could bring heavy rain and high winds this weekend.

If the match is called off, the two sides would share the points, taking Ireland's quarter-final ambitions out of their hands.

Should Scotland beat Russia with a bonus point and follow that with victory over Japan, the Irish would miss the playoffs and a potential final-eight showdown with the All Blacks.