The Latest: Japan rises up rankings after upsetting Ireland
TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on Day 9 of the Rugby World Cup in Japan (all times local):
Spirits were high and the ranking was rising. While fans were celebrating up and down the length of the country after the Rugby World Cup hosts upset Ireland 19-12, the sport's governing body revealed the result meant Japan's ranking would reach an all-time high.
Supporters were calling it the sequel to the so-called Miracle of Brighton, when Japan upset two-time World Cup champion South Africa in England in 2015 in the biggest upset in the tournament's history. This time, on home soil, Japan rallied from 12-3 down to beat Ireland in the shocker in Shizuoka. It also lifted Japan to a record high No. 8 in the World Rugby rankings.
Japan went close to reaching the last eight at the 2015 World Cup but just missed out. This time, reaching the quarterfinals is the goal, and Japan is leading Pool A with group games remaining against Samoa and Scotland.
Ireland started the tournament with the No. 1 ranking but lost top spot when defending champion New Zealand beat South Africa. The Irish have now slid to No. 4.
South Africa restored some order at the Rugby World Cup by putting away Namibia 57-3 in Toyota.
The Springboks' second string lineup was still a different level against the World Cup's lowest-ranked team in a Pool B game that was only a side story to Japan's shock win over Ireland hours earlier. That threw the tournament on its head and put Japan in ecstasy.
South Africa scored nine tries, five in the first half and four in the second. Hooker Bongi Mbonambi and winger Makazole Mapimpi had a pair each.
Namibia has never won a Rugby World Cup game and the gulf between the teams was clear — and big — despite them being southern African neighbors. Namibia also had players sin-binned in each half to make it much harder for itself.
South Africa is 31-3 up at halftime against Namibia and it doesn't look like there's any chance of another upset on Saturday at the Rugby World Cup.
Host Japan threw the tournament on its head a few hours earlier by beating Ireland, the No. 1-ranked team in the world at the start of the tournament.
In Toyota, the Springboks scored five tries in the first 40 minutes against the lowest ranked team at the World Cup. Namibia has never won a game at the World Cup.
Hooker Bongi Mbonambi scored two tries from rolling mauls and flanker Francois Louw scored one. Winger Makazole Mapimpi and center Lukhanyo Am also crossed.
After a rapid start, the South Africans were sloppy for a 10-minute period before Am scored right at the end of the half. Flyhalf Cliven Loubser kicked a penalty for Namibia's only points.
After the Rugby World Cup was thrown on its head by host Japan's upset of Ireland in Shizuoka, Namibia hopes for another stunner against South Africa in Toyota.
Its chances are much slimmer than Japan's. Namibia is the lowest-ranked team at the tournament and is up against the two-time champions.
The Springboks are looking to rebound from an opening loss to New Zealand in Pool B. Namibia was brave before going down to Italy. Japan's biggest previous biggest win at the Rugby World Cup was an upset over the Springboks in England four years ago.
Schalk Brits captains South Africa against Namibia. Normally a hooker, Brits will play at No. 8 as South Africa made 13 changes to its team following the New Zealand game, resting most of its front-line players against the minnow of the World Cup.
Namibia, the Springboks' southern African neighbor, has never won a Rugby World Cup game in 20 attempts.
Japan has produced another Rugby World Cup shocker to beat an Ireland team that was ranked No. 1 coming into the tournament.
Japan beat South Africa in the 2015 World Cup in what was considered the biggest upset in the tournament's history. The 19-12 win over Ireland on Saturday is another massive result, particularly for the first Rugby World Cup held in Asia.
Japan leads Pool A with wins over Russia and Ireland. The Irish had opened with an emphatic 27-3 win over Scotland and had been a heavy favorite to win at Shizuoka.
Captain Jack Lam will return at No. 8 among four changes Samoa coach Vaeluaga Steve Jackson made to his starting XV to play Scotland amid a series of injuries and suspensions.
Hooker Ray Niuia, scrumhalf Melani Matavao and winger Belgium Tuatagaloa all come into the starting XV in changes from Samoa's opening win over Russia.
Lam will make his World Cup captaincy debut against Scotland 28 years after his cousin, Pat Lam, led Samoa at the 1991 World Cup.
Backrower Afaesetiti Amosa has been ruled out after rupturing a right knee ligament, and center Rey Lee-Lo and hooker Motu Matu'u each received three-match bans for dangerous tackles against Russia to rule them out of the rest of the group stage.
Samoa: Tim Nanai-Williams, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Alapati Leiua, Henry Taefu, Ed Fidow, Tusi Pisi, Melani Matavao; Jack Lam (captain), . TJ Ioane, Chris Vui, Kane Le'aupepe, Teofilo Paulo, Michael Alaalatoa, Ray Niuia, Logovii Mulipola. Reserves: Seilala Lam, Paul Alo-Emile, Jordan Lay, Piula Faasalele, Josh Tyrell, Pele Cowley, Ulupano Seuteni, Kieron Fonotia.
Ireland leads Japan 12-9, two tries to three penalties, at halftime of their Pool A match in Shizuoka.
Flyhalf Jack Carty, in place for the injured Jonathan Sexton, was directing Ireland with veteran confidence as he set up both of their tries.
His crosskick to center Garry Ringrose was pinpoint to the center to catch and score, and his chip was tapped back by Ringrose over shorter opposite Ryoto Nakamura for fullback Rob Kearney to catch and dive to the tryline.
The Irish led 12-3 after 21 minutes, and spent the rest of the half on defense as Japan probed the outside and pushed Ireland off its scrum ball for the reward of two more Yu Tamura penalty kicks.
Jamie Joseph has been forced to make last-minute changes to his Japan squad to face Ireland at the Rugby World Cup.
Lomano Lemeki was moved from the bench to the left wing to replace William Tupou, who usually plays center or fullback but was named on the wing in the original squad for Saturday's Pool A game at Shizuoka.
Kenki Fukuoka was drafted onto the reserves bench as cover. Japan won the tournament opener against Russia. Ireland opened its campaign with a lopsided win over Scotland.
Revised Japan lineup: Ryohei Yamanaka, Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Lomano Lemeki, Yu Tamura, Yutaka Nagare; Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Pieter Labuschagne (captain), Kazuki Himeno, James Moore, Luke Thompson, Jiwon Koo, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki. Reserves: Atsushi Sakate, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Wimpie van der Walt, Michael Leitch, Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda, Kenki Fukuoka.
Three tries from hooker Julian Montoya helped Argentina to a bonus-point 28-12 win over Tonga in their must-win Rugby World Cup Pool C game.
Argentina led 28-0, with left winger Santiago Carreras getting the other try and flyhalf Benjamin Urdapilleta converting them all as a rout looked on the cards.
But Tonga hit back with two fine tries from fullback Telusa Veainu, who looked sharp on his return from a nagging foot injury.
Argentina lost its opening game to France and plays group leader England next Saturday, while Tonga faces France the following day.
This was a comfortable win for the Pumas, but the way Tonga got back into the game and pushed hard for a third try late on might concern Argentina coach Mario Ledesma.
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has made five changes to his starting lineup to play Samoa in a Rugby World Cup Pool A match on Monday.
The Scots are coming off a 27-3 opening loss to Ireland and need a victory to push for a place in the quarterfinals.
A new backrow trio will start, with Jamie Ritchie replacing injured Hamish Watson on the openside, Magnus Bradbury coming onto the blindside of the scrum and Blade Thomson at No. 8.
The two other changes were in the backs, where Darcy Graham will start on the wing and Chris Harris in the centers at the expense of Tommy Seymour and Duncan Taylor.
"We were well below (our best) level against Ireland," Townsend said. "The players know what is required of them and are hungry to deliver the kind of performance that keeps us in the World Cup.
"The reality is we now have to win our next three games to make it out of our pool, so the knockout stages for us begin this Monday night."
Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell will start a test in the halves together for the 35th time, equaling the Scotland record held by Roy Laidlaw (Greig's uncle) and John Rutherford.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw; Blade Thomson, Jamie Ritchie, Magnus Bradbury, Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Willem Nel, Stuart McInally (captain), Allan Dell. Reserves: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, George Horne, Adam Hastings, Duncan Taylor.
Hooker Julian Montoya scored a hat trick of tries to help Argentina lead Tonga 28-7 at halftime in their must-win Rugby World Cup Pool C game.
Selected ahead of former captain Agustin Creevy, Montoya opened the scoring with a try in the right corner.
Approaching the midway point he had his second of the game, when Tonga's pack was easily pushed back and he went over for another converted score.
Coach Mario Ledesma's selection changes worked, with left winger Santiago Carreras intercepting a sloppy Tonga pass and running clear for the third try for 21-0 after 21 minutes.
Poor Tonga defending enabled Montoya enough space to push his hulking frame over the line for the bonus-point fourth try — and with not even 30 minutes played.
The Tongans rallied late in the half with their first try of the tournament and went within inches of scoring again in the last seconds before the break.
Georgia coach Milton Haig says the decision to make 12 changes to his starting lineup between Rugby World Cup games between Wales and Uruguay was four years in the making.
Georgia is coming off an opening loss to Six Nations champion Wales, and Uruguay opened with a 30-27 upset win over Fiji.
The Fijians also had made a dozen changes to the starting lineup between their first and second games, and were caught off guard by Uruguay.
"When we planned this four years ago, firstly we planned that we needed to make sure we had a strong 31 coming to this tournament," Haig said. "It was important that there was competition for places and that there wasn't a big difference between the starting team for game one and the starting team for game two.
"We knew we were going to have short turnarounds and ... we don't really see a lot of significance between what team went out against Wales and what team goes out here."
Having said that, all bets are off after game two.
"We were committed as a coaching group to give everyone a chance, and from now on it will be best players on the field," Haig said. "It just means that this team that is selected tomorrow need to go out and do a job for us."
Japan is back in the spotlight at the Rugby World Cup after kicking off with a win over Russia in the tournament's opening game.
The mission in Shizuoka on Saturday goes up a level, though, with Jamie Joseph's Japan lineup facing an Ireland squad that entered the World Cup with the No. 1 ranking and beat Six Nations rival Scotland 27-3.
Japan's target at the first Rugby World Cup in Asia is to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time. That ambition will be tested fully against a strong Irish team that is favored to top Pool A.
Also, Argentina meets Tonga in Osaka in its first game since an opening loss to France in Pool C, and South Africa is aiming to rebound from its opening loss to the defending champion All Blacks when it takes on Namibia at Toyota.