Day 22 at the Rugby World Cup: Scotland under pressure as Wales bid to progress
Can Wales join England in the last eight and will Scotland keep their own slim qualification hopes alive?
Scotland’s battle to reach the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup reaches its next hurdle as Gregor Townsend’s men face Russia in Fukuroi.
The opening defeat to Ireland – coupled with hosts Japan’s 100 per cent start to the tournament – has meant Scotland need to extract maximum points ahead of the two sides’ showdown in the final round of matches.
Six Nations champions Wales are also in action as they tackle Fiji in Oita on Wednesday looking to secure a place in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Here, the PA news agency looks ahead to Wednesday’s fixtures and wraps up all the latest action from Japan.
Scots know the score
Townsend’s men will need to extract the full five points on offer when they face Russia to maximise chances of edging out Japan in the battle for qualification from Pool A.
The Bears – ranked 20th in the world – sit bottom of the group without a point, but their pack have certainly not disgraced themselves with their work on the ground.
Scotland’s stand-in captain John Barclay is not expecting a straightforward encounter.
“They’re physical, hard at the breakdown, they make things niggly and awkward,” Edinburgh flanker Barclay said at a press conference.
“When they have the ball they’re abrasive and direct. We are under no illusions.”
Recharged Wales raring to go
Wales have not topped their pool with a 100 per cent record since the inaugural World Cup 32 years ago – but they are firmly on course to achieve that feat in Japan.
After toppling Australia, assistant coach Robin McBryde knows Wales must be ready to get the job done with one more Pool D fixture still to come.
“We have been able to get recharged,” assistant coach and forwards specialist McBryde said.
“We will have to be at our best and take it one day at a time. Get the Fiji game out of the way first, and then we can fully focus on Uruguay.”
Eagles focus on the future
England and France have already sealed their place in the last eight from Pool C – but third place is still up for grabs, which guarantees a place at the 2023 World Cup in France.
United States fly-half AJ MacGinty believes his side still have plenty to play for as they prepare to face Argentina in Kumagaya on Wednesday with a final match against Tonga still to come.
“It’s huge for us as a team and the stamp we want to put on American rugby’s legacy, but also the growth of the game in America,” MacGinty said, quoted on www.rugbyworldcup.com.
“A third-place finish is something that has never been done. For us, as a group, that’s a massive motivational thing.”
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 8, 2019
On Tuesday, a rampant South Africa ran in 10 tries to book their place in the World Cup quarter-finals with an emphatic bonus-point victory over 14-man Canada in Kobe.
Northampton’s Cobus Reinach helped himself to a hat-trick in the opening 20 minutes while influential fly-half Elton Jantjies kicked 16 points.
Canada, who trailed 47-0 at the break, also had to play more than half the game with a man less after Josh Larsen was sent off for a shoulder-charge into the head of Thomas Du Toit.
The Springboks must now wait to discover their quarter-final opponents from Pool A – either Japan, Ireland or Scotland.
South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus said: “I thought we were nice and clinical and decisive, especially with a bunch of guys who haven’t played a lot in the last four or five weeks.”
Stat of the day
- Pool C, Argentina v United States (0545BST, ITV4)
- Pool A, Scotland v Russia (0815BST, ITV)
- Pool D, Wales v Fiji (1045BST, ITV)