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Opta Match Facts Preview: Japan v Ireland

Opta Match Facts Preview: Japan v Ireland

Ireland flanker Josh van der Flier is pictured in action against Japan's Jumpei Ogura during the 2017 summer tour ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Opta bring you all the team and player facts you need as the build-up continues to Ireland’s Rugby World Cup showdown with Japan in Shizuoka tomorrow (kick-off 4.15pm local time/8.15am Irish time).


– Ireland have won each of their previous seven Test meetings with Japan, those seven victories each coming by at least 16 points and by an average margin of 31 points

– This will be the third meeting between Ireland and Japan at a Rugby World Cup, Ireland beating the Brave Blossoms 32-16 in Dublin in 1991 before securing a 50-28 victory in South Africa four years later

– Ireland have won their last nine Rugby World Cup pool games in-a-row. They had never won more than four such games in-a-row prior to that run

– Two of Ireland’s last three pool defeats at a Rugby World Cup have come against the host nation. They lost to Australia at this stage in 2003 before a defeat to France four years later (they also lost to Argentina in 2007)

– Japan have won four of their five Rugby World Cup matches since the beginning of 2015, this after winning just one of their initial 24 fixtures at the
tournament (D2, L21)

– Ireland restricted Scotland to just three clean breaks during their opening game, which was Scotland’s lowest total since June 2017. Since the beginning of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, Ireland have conceded just 3.1 clean breaks per game at the tournament, fewer than any other side

– Japan conceded 21 turnovers in their game against Russia, the most by any side over the opening weekend of this year’s Rugby World Cup, while Ireland conceded just 12, the joint fewest in that time (level with Fiji)

– Pieter Labuschagne and Shota Horie each made 18 tackles for Japan in their opening clash with Russia. No Japanese player had made as many in a Rugby World Cup match prior to this tournament

– Lomano Lemeki beat 13 defenders in Japan’s 30-10 win over Russia, the most by a Japanese player in a Rugby World Cup match. In fact, coming into the tournament, only four players from any nation had beaten more defenders in a Rugby World Cup game

– Kotaro Matsushima crossed for a hat-trick of tries against Russia, the first Japan player to manage that in a Rugby World Cup game. He has scored nine tries in his last seven appearances for the Brave Blossoms


– Luke Thompson will move clear of Takashi Kikutani as Japan’s outright sixth most-capped player in Test rugby, while Shota Horie will go level with Takeomi Ito as the Brave Blossoms’ ninth most-capped player

– Kotaro Matsushima, Japan’s hat-trick hero against Russia last week, played both matches against Ireland when the sides clashed in June 2017. He crossed for a try in the second Test against Ireland, during which he started at centre

– Lomano Lemeki beat 13 defenders in Japan’s opening game against Russia, which was just four fewer than the entire Ireland team in their Pool A opener against Scotland

– William Tupou made his Test debut against Ireland in 2017, the only player from this squad to make his debut against the Irish side

– Michael Leitch has won just five of his 64 Japan caps from the bench. In fact, 51 of his last 52 caps have come as a starter


Rory Best will make his 100th Test start in this match, Brian O’Driscoll (132) is the only other player to do this for Ireland

Sean Cronin has won 70 caps for Ireland, with 60 of those coming from the bench. No other player has made as many appearances from the bench in Test rugby

Jacob Stockdale has scored 16 tries in 22 appearances for Ireland. Japan are one of three teams he has faced without scoring in his Test career (also France and Australia)

Iain Henderson will win his 50th cap for Ireland in this match. It will be his first game against Japan though, they will be the 12th side he has faced in his Test career

Tadhg Furlong has scored a try in both of his last two Test matches. He had scored just one in his previous 38 international outings before that (including the British & Irish Lions)


Squad Average Age: Japan 29 years 193 days / Ireland 28 years 58 days
Starting XV Average Age: Japan 29 years 116 days / Ireland 28 years 252 days

Squad Average Height (cm): Japan 184 / Ireland 186
Starting XV Average Height (cm): Japan 185 / Ireland 188

Squad Average Weight (kg): Japan 100 / Ireland 103
Starting XV Average Weight (kg): Japan 100 / Ireland 104
Starting Forwards Total Weight (kg): Japan 882 / Ireland 895

Starting XV Caps: Japan 393 / Ireland 741
Replacement Caps: Japan 213 / Ireland 204