Ireland v Samoa: Irish question state of pitch in fresh Rugby World Cup drama

An Irish player was caught on camera "burying" a ball under the turf.
An Irish player was caught on camera "burying" a ball under the turf.

Typhoon Hagibis hasn't even slammed into Japan yet and World Rugby could have another problem on its hands.

Ireland have questioned the state of the pitch at Hakatanomori Stadium in Fukuoka before their crunch Pool A clash with Samoa on Saturday, with footage emerging of Irish players 'burying' an entire ball under parts of the relaid surface at their captain's run on Friday.

"You guys are pretty smart individuals, and you would have seen the pitch yourselves," Ireland's Kiwi scrum coach Greg Feek told Irish reporters, according to RTE.

"They [World Rugby] told us in an email, both teams know about it. We knew they had had to relay the pitch.

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"So we just went out there, had an inspection and we've been given all the assurances by World Rugby that it's safe to play on and that's all we can ask for.

"Obviously I don't want to predict anything or cause any more controversy at this stage.

"We just try to back the players, trust that the pitch will do its job. We were trying to alleviate any concerns when we were out there, but then it's just a matter of wait and see."

RTE reported that Ireland coach Joe Schmidt appeared frustrated and spent time looking at some strips of turf, pointing them out to both Feek and Ireland's head of operations Ger Carmody.

Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt talks during the captain's run at Hakatanomori Stadium in Fukuoka on Friday.
AP
Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt talks during the captain's run at Hakatanomori Stadium in Fukuoka on Friday.

Parts of the Hakatanomori Stadium turf were relaid after Italy beat Canada and again after France defeated the USA.

Feek said the pitch's condition could compromise scrummaging between Ireland and Samoa.

"That's always my concern, no matter whether it's training or on the match pitch," Feek said.

"When it comes to a static isometric position where there's a couple of big packs going at it you're always going to be cautious and ask the questions.

"So we've just got to prepare our guys as best we can but make sure the scrums stay up, not just for safety but also for the match too."

Schmidt has cut an unhappy figure at this Rugby World Cup, claiming that the officials made several errors in penalising Ireland for offside during their shock loss to Japan.

The Kiwi also believes the cancellation of the All Blacks v Italy game will give the New Zealanders an advantage heading into the quarterfinals, where they could well face Ireland.

The Ireland v Samoa game will escape the wrath of Typhoon Hagibis and is set to take place on Saturday, although World Rugby is yet to make a call on the other Pool A game between Japan and Scotland.

Ireland players stretch on the relaid surface at Hakatanomori Stadium on Friday.
AP
Ireland players stretch on the relaid surface at Hakatanomori Stadium on Friday.

If the typhoon causes the cancellation of the Japan game, the hosts will progress to a quarterfinal match against South Africa, while the All Blacks will face Ireland, providing they get at least one competition point from the Samoa game.

World Rugby defended the state of the Hakatanomori Stadium surface, saying in a statement: ""We are confident that the new pitch for Ireland v Samoa in Fukuoka will play its part in what promises to be a superb match. 

"While the look of the turf may not be perfect, as would be expected with a very recent installation, we confident that the pitch will perform superbly."

 

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