Rugby World Cup 2019: Ireland focused amid typhoon uncertainty

Joe Schmidt is standing down as Ireland head coach after the Rugby World Cup in Japan
Joe Schmidt is standing down as Ireland head coach after the Rugby World Cup in Japan

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt says his players are "intrigued" by the uncertainty around the match between their Pool A rivals Scotland and Japan.

With a typhoon set to hit Yokohama, World Rugby will wait until Sunday to decide whether the game can go ahead.

Ireland can book their place in the quarter-finals with a bonus-point win over Samoa on Saturday.

Anything less would result in a nervous wait for the result of the final Pool A fixture in Yokohama.

If the game is off because of typhoon Hagibis, Scotland are likely be knocked out of the World Cup as cancelled matches see both teams awarded two points as part of a 0-0 draw.

However Schmidt has insisted it is "business as usual" for his side as they prepare to face Samoa on Saturday.

"We can't really control what happens with the Scotland v Japan game," Schmidt said.

"So on Saturday evening, we just need to make sure we get our business done as best we can."

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Business as usual for Joe Schmidt and Ireland

With three rounds of fixtures complete Ireland are second in Pool A, one point ahead of Scotland and three behind Japan.

When news of the typhoon's path emerged earlier this week, it looked as though Ireland v Samoa in Fukuoka was among the likeliest games to be affected, however the trajectory has since changed and World Rugby has confirmed that the match will go ahead as planned.

However, Hagibis has led to the cancellation of two games with a third hanging in the balance.

"There was a lot of talk among the players post-training today when they found out," said Schmidt on Thursday.

"Any time there's something up in the air and something is unknown, especially when two games have already been abandoned, you get players who are going to talk about that.

"It's newsworthy and it's something that is influential once games have been finished from the weekend."

Needing a five-point win, Schmidt has named a close-to full strength side for the Samoa game.

Among the multitude of possible scenarios, there is a situation that could see Ireland go out of the tournament if they defeat Samoa but score fewer than four tries.

Such an eventuality would only occur if Scotland were to claim a five-point win over Japan, with the hosts taking a losing bonus-point.

"From our point of view [playing a day earlier] probably makes it easier," said captain Rory Best.

"We go out, we play our game and you assume the game goes ahead on Sunday."

If Ireland do qualify for the quarter-finals, they are now certain to face either New Zealand or South Africa in Tokyo.

The All Blacks finished as Pool B winners after being awarded two points following the cancellation of their final game against Italy.

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