All you need to know ahead of...

Ireland v Scotland

One of Ireland's training sessions was briefly interrupted earlier this week when smoke started issuing from a building next to their pitch in Chiba. It turned out to be a fire station doing practice drills. A false alarm.

It is Ireland who need to catch fire now. Joe Schmidt admitted as much on Friday, stressing that his team had to "hit the ground running" at this World Cup as he named his strongest available team to face Scotland in their Pool A opener at Yokohama International Stadium on Sunday.

Schmidt was talking about the differences between this campaign and Ireland's last one four years ago, and the lessons he learned.


"It's so different because we didn't start with the same level of match last time," the New Zealander said. "And that's no disrespect to Canada. But they weren't a big Tier 1 opponent where the players know each other really well. I think that familiarity makes us a little nervous, and probably makes Scotland a little nervous.

"This time we definitely have to hit the ground running. This is the equivalent of the France game from last time, but first up."

Schmidt has named his strongest available team, but not his strongest possible team. Jordan Larmour and Andrew Conway come in for Rob Kearney and Keith Earls, who were always unlikely to make it back from niggling injuries despite Ireland's protestations midweek that they would be fit and ready to help Ireland's cause.

Those are significant changes. While both Larmour and Conway are exciting players - Schmidt spoke of the "contagious" exuberance they could bring - Ireland's back three of Larmour, Conway and Jacob Stockdale does suddenly feel a lot more vulnerable, particularly given the weather forecast which is for rain. Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell will no doubt look to test them early on.

Schmidt will hope that his forward pack can bully Scotland's, allowing Ireland to control the contest at source. And a front row of Cian Healy, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong, and a second row of Iain Henderson and James Ryan does appear more than a match for Scotland's tight five.

Ireland know they have a golden opportunity this time but it depends upon them making a good start. If they can beat Scotland, and then see off Japan next week, they should win the pool comfortably given their last two games are against Russia and Samoa.

- Telegraph UK

Match details: Sunday September 22, 7:45pm, International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama City.


Referee: Wayne Barnes



Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Peter O'Mahony, James Ryan, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best (C), Cian Healy.

Reserves: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath, Jack Carty, Chris Farrell


Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor, Sam Johnson, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw, Ryan Wilson, Hamish Watson, John Barclay, Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Willem Nel, Stuart McInally (C), Allan Dell.

Reserves: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Scott Cummings, Blade Thomson, Ali Price, Chris Harris, Darcy Graham.

How to watch/stream

The Herald will be live blogging the match, with build-up from 7:30pm. Spark Sport coverage starts at 7:30pm. Kickoff is at 7.45pm.




Ireland wins: 63
Scotland wins: 67
Drawn: 5

Last time: 22-13 to Ireland. February 2019

Group standings