After a largely predictable opening week at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Week 2 saw the competition come alive.
There was one of the greatest upsets in the tournament’s history as hosts Japan saw off Ireland — ranked as the No.1 side in the world — while underdogs Uruguay edged past Fiji 30-27 in a similarly surprising result. Elsewhere, Wales achieved a narrow win over Australia in a true heavyweight clash.
Week 3 could well make for more intriguing viewing, with Japan’s clash against Samoa potentially setting the former up for a shock qualification out of their pool, and a mouthwatering fixture in Italy versus South Africa likely to have genuine ramifications at the top of Pool B.
Read ahead for team lists and previews.
Wednesday, 2 Oct 2019
France vs. USA, Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka (4:45pm local, 5:45pm AEST, 8:45am BST)
France: Thomas Ramos, Alivereti Raka, Sofiane Guitoune, Gael Fickou, Yoann Huget, Camille Lopez, Maxime Machenaud, Louis Picamoles (C), Yacouba Camara, Arthur Iturria, Paul Gabrillagues, Bernard Le Roux, Emerick Setiano, Camille Chat, Cyril Baille.
Replacements: Guilhem Guirado, Jefferson Poirot, Rabah Slimani, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Gregory Alldritt, Baptiste Serin, Romain Ntamack, Maxime Medard.
United States: Mike Teo, Blaine Scully (C), Marcel Brache, Bryce Campbell, Martin Iosefo, AJ MacGinty, Shaun Davies, Cam Dolan, Hanco Germishuys, Tony Lamborn, Nick Civetta, Nate Brakeley, Titi Lamositele, Joe Taufetee, Eric Fry.
Replacements: Dylan Fawsitt, Olive Kilifi, Paul Mullen, Greg Peterson, Ben Pinkelman, Ruben de Haas, Will Magie, Thretton Palamo.
Verdict: France have enjoyed an extended break since their narrow victory over Argentina on the second day of the tournament, giving them ample time for recovery after what was a torrid affair. The States, meanwhile, lost to England under the roof in Kobe last Thursday, a match coach Gary Gold admitted they had plenty of work-ons out of if they’re to be more competitive against the bigger nations in Japan. This is the ideal game to show what they’re made of, but they must be a little bit more prepared to keep ball in hand while also wary of the Camille Lopez’s kicking game. France will want to keep the momentum of last week’s win up as they prepare for a crunch clash with England on Saturday week.
Tip: France by 25.
New Zealand vs. Canada, Oita Stadium, Oita (7:15pm local, 8:15pm AEST, 11:15am BST)
New Zealand: Atu Moli, Liam Coltman, Angus Ta’avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Scott Barrett, Shannon Frizell, Matt Todd, Kieran Read (C), TJ Perenara, Richie Mo’unga, Rieko Ioane, Sonny Bill Williams, Jack Goodhue, Jordie Barrett, Beauden Barrett.
Replacements: Codie Taylor, Ofa Tuungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Samuel Whitelock, Ardie Savea, Brad Weber, Ryan Crotty, Ben Smith.
Canada: Patrick Parfrey, Jeff Hassler, Conor Trainor, Ciaran Hearn, DTH Van Der Merwe, Peter Nelson, Gordon McRorie, Tyler Ardron, Matt Heaton, Lucas Rumball, Conor Keys, Evan Olmstead, Cole Keith, Eric Howard, Djustice Sears-Duru.
Replacements: Andrew Quattrin, Hubert Buydens, Jake Ilnicki, Michael Sheppard, Josh Larsen, Phil Mack, Taylor Paris, Andrew Coe.
Verdict: This is, of course, going to be one-way traffic for the All Blacks as they have their first hit-out since the classic against the Springboks in Yokohama. Coach Steve Hansen has opted to give a number of players a rest, but he has stuck with the Richie Mo’unga-Beauden Barrett 10-15 combination that really hit its groove last Saturday. That looks a good call as it gives the duo another chance to play together before bigger matches loom, while Jordie Barrett and Scott Barrett have been named on the wing and at lock respectively to complete the Barrett trio. One thing New Zealand won’t want is for the game to get ridiculously loose in such that they start to throw the ball around as if its a game of sevens. They will want ruthless execution in clinical fashion. This will be a long night for the Canucks.
Tip: New Zealand by 65.
Thursday, 3 Oct 2019
Georgia vs. Fiji, Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Higashiosaka (2:15pm local, 3:15pm AEST, 6:15am BST)
Fiji: Kini Murimurivalu, Josua Tuisova, Waisea Nayacalevu, Lepani Botia, Semi Radradra, Ben Volavola, Frank Lomani, Peceli Yato, Semi Kunatani, Dominiko Waqaniburotu (captain), Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati, Manasa Saulo, Samuel Matavesi, Campese Ma’afu.
Replacements: Tuvere Vugakoto, Eroni Mawi, Peni Ravai, Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, Viliame Mata, Nikola Matawalu, Jale Vatubua, Josh Matavesi.
Ireland vs. Russia, Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe (7:15pm local, 8:15pm AEST, 11:15am BST)
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Keith Earls, Johnny Sexton (C), Luke McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Peter O’Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Jordan Larmour.
Friday, 4 Oct 2019
South Africa vs. Italy, Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Shizuoka (6:45pm local, 7:45pm AEST, 10:45am BST)
South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (C), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw, Herchel Jantjies, Frans Steyn.
Saturday, 5 Oct 2019
Australia vs. Uruguay, Oita Stadium, Oita (2:15pm local, 3:15pm AEST, 6:15am BST)
England vs. Argentina, Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo (5pm local, 6pm AEST, 9am BST)
Japan vs. Samoa, City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota (7:30pm local, 8:30pm AEST, 11:30am BST)
Sunday, 6 Oct 2019
New Zealand vs. Namibia, Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo (1:45pm local, 2:45 pm AEST, 5:45am BST)
France vs. Tonga, Kumamoto Stadium, Kumamoto (4:45pm local, 5:45 pm AEST, 8:45am BST)