Fourteen points from the boot of fly-half Yu Tamura along with a try from Kenki Fukuoka were enough to get the host nation over the line despite early tries from Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney giving Ireland the lead in the first half.
Japan started brightly, looking the most likely to score and had to go in front after six minutes through a penalty but Tamura sliced the kick to the left.
That miss proved costly as Ireland grew into the game and went ahead on 14 minutes when after a number of phases Jack Carty sent a lovely chip to the right-hand side where Ringrose rose highest, collected the ball and touched down. Carty couldn’t add the extras but Ireland had their noses in front.
Japan hit back immediately as Tamura redeemed himself by slotting over a penalty from straight in front of the posts.
However, it was Ireland that stretched their lead five minutes later with Carty again instrumental. Following another group of phases and with advantage on their side Carty chipped over the top 10-metres out from the Japanese line and got up to slap the ball back to Kearney who barged over. Carty was perfect with his conversion this time and it was 12-3.
The hosts dominated the remainder of the half but could only manage to score from two penalties off the boot of Tamura as the sides went in at 12-9 to Ireland come the half-time whistle.
The second-half started the same way as the first ended as Japan continued at a blistering pace as the Irish looked to be tiring and it was the home side that took advantage just before the hour mark.
After sustained pressure Ireland had a chance to clear their lines but following a scrum CJ Stander ran into Chris Farrell and gave away a scrum.
From there the Japanese made no mistake as they attacked the Irish line and within a couple of phases they were over for a try in the right corner through substitute Fukuoka. Tamura provided the extras and suddenly they were leading 16-12.
Ireland tried to get back into the game, bringing on a number of substitutes to try and provide some energy to the side, but it was Japan who seemed to grow in confidence and belief going on to get the next score with another penalty by Tamura.
The hosts were battered in the final minutes but held on with a tight defence as Ireland just continued to tire and almost scored a breakaway try in the final moments, only for Keith Earls to make a vital tackle.
Ireland won a scrum in the final minute of the match, but with one last play to try and rescue a draw, they instead decided to kick the ball out and take a losing bonus-point as it finished 19-12 to Japan.
The win puts Japan top of Pool A and Ireland are in second, but Scotland will now feel they have a chance to qualify after looking down and out last weekend following a loss to Ireland.
Ireland will need to dust themselves down quickly as they face Russia in what is now a crucial game on Thursday, while Japan will look to make it three wins from three when they play Samoa next Saturday as they hope to finish top of the pool.
Ireland Player Ratings
Rob Kearney (7), Keith Earls (6), Gary Ringrose (7), Chris Farrell (6), Jacob Stockdale (5), Jack Carty (7), Connor Murray (6), CJ Stander (6), Josh van der Flier (6), Peter O’Mahony (5), James Ryan (6), Iain Henderson (6), Tadhg Furlong (6), Rory Best (6), Cian Healy (6)
Women’s Rugby World Cup looks set to be postponed.
World Rugby has made the difficult decision to recommend the postponement of Rugby World Cup 2021, scheduled to be hosted in New Zealand between 18 September-16 October, until next year. The recommendation will be considered by the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee on 8 and 9 March respectively.Play Video
While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family.
The recommendation is based on the evolution of the uncertain and challenging global COVID-19 landscape. It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.
The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand, and challenging global travel restrictions.
World Rugby can assure teams, New Zealanders and the global rugby family that the recommendation to postpone the tournament will help to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2021 will be all it can be next year for players, fans and the rugby family – one of the great Rugby World Cups.
Further updates will be issued following the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee meetings next week.
RWC 2023 Pools confirmed.
How the draw worked
As host nation, France was drawn first and placed randomly in one of the four pools. The teams were then drawn randomly from each band, starting with Band 5 (Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1, Final Qualifier Winner), then Band 4 (Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2), then Band 3 (Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy), then Band 2 (Ireland, (France), Australia, Japan) and finally Band 1 (South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales). The first drawn in each band was placed in Pool A, the second in Pool B, the third in Pool C and the fourth in Pool D.
Twelve of the 20 teams qualified automatically by finishing in the top three places of their Rugby World Cup 2019 pool. These 12 teams are: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Australia, Japan, Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy. Acknowledging the global COVID-19 impact on international rugby in 2020, these teams were seeded based on the World Rugby Men’s Rankings as of 1 January, 2020 and placed into the first three bands of four teams.
The remaining eight teams will come through the regional qualification process and were allocated for the draw into bands four and five based on relative strength. They are: Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2, Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1 and the Final Qualifier Winner.
Qualification process set for Rugby World Cup 2023
- Process designed to promote regional strength and the best teams to rugby’s showcase event
- 12 teams already qualified owing to top three pool placing at RWC 2019
- RWC 2023 on track to be a spectacular celebration of rugby and France
World Rugby has announced details of the qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.
Following the most competitive and widely-acclaimed Rugby World Cup to date in Japan, the qualification process is designed to deliver the top teams in the world to rugby’s showcase tournament, while promoting a genuine opportunity for all unions.
With 12 teams having secured their place at France 2023 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools at RWC 2019, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers. The process will conclude with a four-team round-robin Final Qualification Tournament in November 2022 to determine the final qualifier.
The dates for events in 2021 will be announced in due course and will be subject to an anticipated easing of the COVID-19 situation.
The announcement follows consultation with unions and regions in January 2020 and a full review of performance at Rugby World Cup 2019, where rankings upsets and the impressive performances in particular of Japan, Fiji, Uruguay, Tonga and Georgia cut the performance gap, with the average winning margin between established and emerging unions decreasing in comparison with 2015 benchmarks.
The Americas will deliver two direct places, while Oceania will deliver a direct qualifier with a further direct place available following a play-off with Asia. The Rugby Europe Championship (two direct places), Rugby Africa Cup (one direct place) and Final Qualification Tournament (one direct place) will provide the other qualifiers. Further details are provided below.
RWC 2023 qualification principles
- Americas: the Americas will qualify two teams by September 2022. The third best team in the region will enter the Final Qualification Tournament – Americas 1 & Americas 2
- Europe: the existing Rugby Europe Championship will have two qualifying places, with the two best teams in March 2022 qualifying directly and the third placed entering the Final Qualification Tournament – Europe 1 & Europe 2
- Africa: the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 winner will qualify directly and the runner-up team will go to Final Qualification – Africa 1
- Oceania: a home and away play-off between Tonga and Samoa in 2021 will determine the direct qualifier for the Oceania region. – Oceania 1
The loser will then play the Oceania Rugby Cup 2021 winner in the highest ranked team’s country with the eventual winner contesting Asia / Pacific (see below) as Oceania 2
- Asia / Pacific: the winner of the Asian Rugby Men’s Championship 2021 will play Oceania 2 home and away. The winner on aggregate will determine the qualifier and the loser will go to Final Qualification – Asia / Pacific 1
- Final Qualification Tournament: the tournament in November 2022 will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format with the winner qualifying for RWC 2023 – Final Qualification winner
Teams already qualified: South Africa, England, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, France (host), Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina, Fiji
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “With the global pandemic having halted most rugby activity, confirmation of the global qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 provides a beacon of excitement for all, including players and fans.
“The process that has been developed via full consultation with our regional associations and member unions will provide a genuine opportunity for full member unions to qualify for our showcase men’s 15s event.
“Maximising existing regional competitions, the process is good for regions and unions in managing costs for organisers and participants alike, which is important as we all recover from the global pandemic.
“On behalf of World Rugby, I’d like to wish all teams involved the best of luck on their journey to France 2023.”
Rugby World Cup France 2023 CEO Claude Atcher added: “This qualification process gives emerging unions an opportunity to take part in our sport’s biggest competition.
“The success of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and performances by the host nation is a testimony of rugby’s expansion globally. As the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is about to be won, I welcome this optimistic prospect of reconnecting with the excitement of our sport. This is the start of our journey towards France 2023, which will be the best tournament ever delivered.”
Final details of the regional competition formats and dates will be announced in due course.
Official Press Release from World Rugby