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Rugby round up
Saturday 21 September 2019
Konnichiwa: It's finally here! The four-year wait is over and the World Cup is about to begin. There's nothing quite like counting down the days to the big kick-off but this time around, with so many key games to come over the opening weekend, it really does feel like Christmas eve. If Christmas involved wall-to-wall rugby and lasted nearly two months...
Jet lagged: Whether it's the first team sheets starting to filter through this morning, setting those alarms for the early kick-offs or, in my case, finally getting the lengthy flight to Japan out of the way, that first game can't come soon enough now with the hosts itching to get things underway against Russia on Friday morning (UK time).
Rugby fever: Oftentimes the biggest of cities can swallow up sporting events. You can walk through London and Paris for hours on a Six Nations weekend with the first signs of the big game usually only in the immediate vicinity of the stadium. Not so in Tokyo, it seems. Getting out at the famous Shibuya Station, home of "the scramble", earlier today it was immediately striking that the first faces to greet you, towering on the digital screens above, were those of Beauden Barrett, Siya Kolisa and, of course, Japan skipper Michael Leitch. Even the Hachikō Statue had a Japanese jersey on and a rugby ball by his side. Advertising for the tournament is everywhere, literally every lamppost offers a reminder of what's to come.
Countdown: And when that means New Zealand v South Africa, Ireland v Scotland, Australia v Fiji and France v Argentina this weekend, well, who can help but be excited? We've a great tournament in store and we can't wait to bring you all the coverage we can between now and November 2. Below we've offered up a few of the bits and pieces we've been working on this week. We hope you enjoy them and more importantly enjoy the rugby!
Jonathan Bradley in Tokyo
 
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Plenty of the world's top teams will believe they can get their hands on the Webb Ellis Cup. Rugby World Cup is wide open as all the big guns believe they can win By Jonathan Bradley While the time difference will make for sleep-induced viewing for those back home, and the weather may play the spoiler for those lucky enough to be on the ground in Japan, when it comes to the rugby things couldn’t be set up any better.
On the run: Gordon Hamilton leaves David Campese in his wake to score at Lansdowne Road Hamilton calls upon Ireland's modern stars to eclipse his moment in history By Jonathan Bradley It says much about Ireland's complicated relationship with the World Cup that the euphoria generated by the nation's favourite moment at the competition lasted all of a few minutes.
Family affair: Ciaran (far left) and Rhys Ruddock have differing roles in the Irish camp Brothers in arms on the trip of a lifetime By Cian Tracey There was a time when Mike Rud­dock's boys dreamed of playing for Ireland together, but life took them on different courses.
Mastermind: England head coach Eddie Jones and his team are my picks for the World Cup England have quality to turn on power and win the World Cup By Chris Henry If you were looking at it from a neutral perspective, then the day this World Cup really caught fire was that August morning when the Wallabies hammered the All Blacks.
New boys: Roger Wilson and Matt McCullough in the
grounds of Osaka-jo Castle in Osaka How Irish eyes were opened on historic '05 Japan trip By Jonathan Bradley The first Irish traveller to Japan, or so the story goes, was all the way back in 1704 when a Waterford sailor named Robert Jansen was captured off the coast of Kyushu.
 
 
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Will Addison is on standby as injuries hit Ireland's World Cup panel. How close Will Addison is to Ireland call-up while Jonathan Bradley's Japan journey begins The Ulster Rugby Round-Up's World Cup special series, in association with Remus Uomo, is back for episode six.
 
 
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