The pitch at the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium could be the latest issue the Ireland team have to face at this year’s World Cup.
The turf was seen to be pulling up at this morning’s Captain’s Run, with the Ireland camp not fully satisfied with it. The pitch was relaid recently, causing concern among those taking to the field.
“It doesn’t look great, to be honest with you,” said Keith Earls at this morning’s press conference at the stadium.
“But actually, out there, it’s flat and it’s quite firm and it doesn’t feel too bad to run on and, it’s been inspected and deemed playable and that’s how it felt out there today and, I’d suppose it’s going to be the same for both teams.”
Greg Feek, meanwhile, says World Rugby have given plenty of prior warning of the situation with the grass:
“They told us in an email, both teams knew about it, we knew that they had to relay the pitch a bit, so we obviously went out there and had a bit of an inspection and we’ve been given all assurances by World Rugby that it’s safe to play on and that’s all we can ask for.”
“We just try back the players and trust the pitch will do its job at this stage. So, we’re trying to alleviate any concerns while we’re out there but then it’s just a matter of wait and see. The referee will be aware of it, so that’s the key thing.”
Ireland face Samoa tomorrow in Fukuoka, knowing that a bonus point win will send them through the last eight.
Finishing as pool runners-up will ensure Ireland play the All-Blacks the following weekend, with Springboks waiting for the Pool A winners.
If Japan’s clash with Scotland falls victim to Typhoon Hagibis on Sunday, it will ensure that the hosts top the pool.
In a statement released on Friday morning, World Rugby commented on the new Fukuoka pitch:
We are confident in the integrity of the new Fukuoka pitch for Ireland v Samoa. With stability and performance the key considerations, World Rugby and JR 2019 took the decision to re-turf the playing surface following significant wear caused by the France versus USA match after heavy rainfall as a consequence of Typhoon 17. The primary driver was player welfare.
The tournament has dedicated nurseries where back-up turn is meticulously prepared in line with Rugby World Cup standards. While the look of the turf may not be perfect, as would be expected with a very recent installation, we confident (sic) that the pitch will perform superbly.
Everyone’s in the Team Of Us.
Vodafone. The Official Sponsor of the Irish Rugby Team.