Saturday 12 October, Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka, 11.45am (Irish time)


Live blog on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App from 11.00am


Live commentary on RTÉ 2fm with Michael Corcoran.


Live coverage on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player from 11am.


Passing showers expected throughout the day, but gusts of winds as high as 48km/h are expected in Fukuoka, though the city will be spared the extremes suffered in other parts of Japan.


Amid talk of Super Typhoon Hagibis, cancelled games, potential legal wrangling and questionable playing surfaces, a rugby game may just break out in Fukuoka tomorrow.

There are many things out of Joe Schmidt's control, such as the prospect that the cancellation of Scotland's joust with Japan will guarantee a quarter-final date with champions New Zealand with just a point at the Hakatanomori Stadium

Assuming that the game does go ahead – Scotland have raised the prospect of legal action if authorities decide to call the game off as it would automatically end their interest in the competition – Ireland will be fixated on keeping up their end of the bargain by simply coming out the right side of this fixture for the seventh time in eight outings.

A bonus-point win will seal a place in the quarter-finals and while a win is likely to be enough, there is the possibility that failure to collect a bonus point could prove fatal.

That would leave Ireland on 15 points, a tally Japan and Scotland would match if the Japanese claim a losing bonus point and Gregor Townsend’s side seal a bonus-point victory.

Then head-to-head and points difference comes into play – here is a more detailed explainer – and that could see Ireland eliminated at the group stage for just the second time in Rugby World Cup history.

Pretty straight forward eh?

The Beirne identity

Joe Schmidt has made close to a dozen changes to the side that stuttered to victory over Russia, with many of the frontliners called back into action. Rob Kearney’s groin issue means he is out of the match-day squad, but others will get some valuable game time.

Conor Murray will look to build his way into the tournament, Rory Best has the opportunity to up his game ahead of a potential quarter-final and above all else, Robbie Henshaw makes his long awaited 2019 World Cup debut after fears he could miss the tournament entirely.

One of the most interesting selection calls is the continuation of Tadhg Beirne in the backrow. 

The Munster man has earned the praise of Joe Schmidt for his defensive work and versatility and could be a genuine challenger to Pete O’Mahony in the number six jersey.

With Josh van der Flier the only specialist seven, Beirne offers something different to his provincial team-mate, with his work at the breakdown second to none.

The 2017 Lions captain remains in pole position to return to the starting XV should Ireland as expected progress to the last eight, another powerful display would make it is a welcome headache for Schmidt.

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So what of Ireland’s final pool opponents? We have already failed once in the "we should beat them" test, but as unconvincing as the men in green have been in the past three games, Samoa are no Japan.

Seven tries – only two fewer than Japan – shows that they pack more than a physical punch, but defensively there are question marks as to whether they can maintain their focus and discipline over the course of 80 minutes.

In his column this week, Jonny Holland aired strong concerns over the Samoans' tackling technique, and Australian Nic Berry will be the man tasked with keeping order as referee inconsistency around the tackle continues to fester.

The sight of a mischeivous Chris Farrell hiding the ball under a section of the playing surface during the captain’s run will do little to allay Irish fears that the pitch may not be up to scratch. If it does cut up badly, as it has done in other pool games, the Irish pack could be in for a more difficylt assignment than they had bargained for.


Ireland: Jordan Larmour, Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best (capt), Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander 

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Jean Kleyn, Peter O'Mahony, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Andrew Conway. 

Samoa: Tim Nanai-Williams, Ah See Tuala, Alapati Leiua, Henry Taefu, Ed Fidow, Ulupano Seuteni, Dwayne Polataivao; Logovii Mulipola, Seilala Lam, Michael Alaalatoa, Teofilo Paulo, Kane Le'aupepe, Chris Vui, TJ Ioane, Jack Lam (capt).

Replacements: Ray Niuia, Paul Alo-Emile, Jordan Lay, Piula Faasalele, Josh Tyrell, Pele Cowley, Tusi Pisi, Kieron Fonotia.

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