TOKYO (AP) – The Latest on Saturday at the Rugby World Cup in Japan (all times local):
There’s a little over an hour to go until kickoff and England coach Eddie Jones is the first man out on the field at Oita Stadium. Dressed in a white shirt, he’s all alone as he walks to the middle and has a moment to himself, looking all around the ground.
He will also be going up against a former teammate from Sydney club Randwick, Michael Cheika, who is now Australia coach.
Jones, hired after England’s shambolic performance at the 2015 World Cup on home soil, still has two years left on his contract with England. This could prove to be his final match in charge if his team loses, though, with the semifinals regarded as a minimum requirement for his employer, the Rugby Football Union.
Cheika is also likely to leave his post if Australia fails to get beyond the quarterfinals.
Japan’s run to the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals is breaking broadcast audience records in the host nation.
Rugby World Cup organizers said Japan’s win over Scotland in the last of the pool games last Sunday at Yokohama attracted 53.7% peak audience share for the host broadcaster, representing a 54.8 million audience, which was bigger than the audience for soccer’s 2002 World Cup final in Yokohama on NHK.
Japan’s opening match against Russia attracted a peak audience of 26 million, the win over Ireland increased to a 29.5 million audience, and the closing stages of the win over Samoa attracted a peak of 47 million. The win over Scotland ensured Japan advanced to the knockout stage of the Rugby World Cup for the first time. The home team will play South Africa on Sunday in the quarterfinals.
There were 13 million views of the official Rugby World Cup 2019 Japanese language Twitter media account last Sunday, more than double the views of the English language account.
A bitter old rivalry and a relatively new one will feature in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday, when England and Australia meet in Oita and defending champion New Zealand takes on Ireland at Tokyo Stadium.
Australia and England have met six times at the Rugby World Cup, with each country winning three. The Australians beat England in the 1991 final at Twickenham, and the English avenged that with an extra-time win in the 2003 final in Sydney. That remains the only time a team from the northern hemisphere has won rugby’s biggest prize.
Since the Wallabies’ 33-13 win in 2015 contributed to England’s pool-stage exit at the tournament it was hosting, Australian Eddie Jones has coached the England squad to six consecutive wins over Michael Cheika’s Australians. England is favored to make that seven in a row.
The New Zealand All Blacks haven’t lost a match at the Rugby World Cup since an upset quarterfinal defeat to France in 2007. The Irish have lost all seven knockout matches they’ve played. But since breaking a 111-year drought with a victory over the All Blacks in 2016, Ireland is 2-1 in head-to-heads with New Zealand.
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