Rugby

Ireland sweating over playing conditions at humid World Cup venues

Kyodo

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt said Thursday the humidity in Japan has posed a challenge for his team’s Rugby World Cup campaign, and that he will continue to monitor the conditions ahead of his team’s final Pool A clash with Samoa.

Following Ireland’s 35-0 win over Russia at Kobe Misaki Stadium that lifted it to the top of the group, Schmidt admitted Japan’s high humidity is foreign to his squad, which entered the tournament as one of the favorites.

“I do think the humidity is something that we are not used to playing with,” he said.

The closed-roof venue in Kobe has especially posed a challenge to the teams playing there so far, as high temperatures and humidity have contributed to handling errors.

Schmidt, whose team played in the third match staged in Kobe, said he took the condition of the venue into account by checking the performance of the other teams that have played there when he came up with a plan.

“In a potentially dry stadium with the roof and having the humidity as it was and the moisty content, it is a little bit foreign to us,” he said. “So I think from game to game, we will continue to adjust.”

Ireland started off with a convincing win over Scotland, but it followed with a 19-12 loss to Japan last Saturday in Fukuroi, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Johnny Sexton, who captained the side for the first time against Russia, said he was “delighted” with the win after playing in such trying circumstances.

“The conditions were difficult — the ball was very slippery and we are just pleased to get the five points and we have plenty to work on,” Sexton said. “We still have a big game against Samoa to finish off.”

Schmidt, however, is hopeful his side can play under better conditions when it faces Samoa on Oct. 12.

“The condition, I think, we are adjusting to, I heard that it does start to cool off in October,” he said. “And it’s October, so I’m hopeful that the condition will start to change a little bit and we won’t have to adjust as much to them.”

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