Two huge Guinness Six Nations rivals in England and France are set to face off in another Le Crunch on Saturday to decide who wins Pool C.
Meanwhile Scotland and Wales play their third games tomorrow before short turnarounds for their final games this weekend.
Medard preparing for Crunch time
Maxime Medard is one of only three survivors from the France squad that made the 2011 World Cup final.
Along with Louis Picamoles and Guilhem Guirado, Medard is hoping to replicate those heroics, starting with this weekend’s Le Crunch in Yokohama.
Their quarter-final spot is already secured, but Medard wants to lay down a marker against the old enemy England.
“It’s always special against the English,” he said. “It’s still Le Crunch.
“Beyond that, this match should allow us to reassure ourselves, to put our game in place and to find benchmarks ahead of the quarter-final. Win or lose, it will raise some issues for what follows. But we’re not thinking about that just yet.
Retour en image sur la qualification tricolore en quarts de finale du mondial ! 👊🇫🇷🤩 Pour ne rien rater des coulisses du #XVdeFrance c’est ici 👇https://t.co/aKPhilRaVw!#NeFaisonsXV #XVdeFrance #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/UNtJQmMSN0
— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) October 7, 2019
“England are currently two or three levels above us. We have to do all we can to put our game in place, do some good things and build confidence ahead of the quarter-final.
“We have no preference over who we play next, there is no choice. We’re not going to throw the match. We are in an important competition. We will dig deep to win.
“Wales or Australia (in the quarters), it won’t change a thing. They are both better than us. We have to do everything we can to make an impact on the game.
“They are more consistent than we are. We have won, with a little difficulty, but we won and that’s what’s important. But there are a lot of teams today who show more consistency than we do. But in any match, in any competition, we are capable of playing well enough to win.”
Billy set for a rest
Meanwhile England are preparing to rest Billy Vunipola for the big clash after the No.8’s ankle injury sustained against Argentina last weekend.
“We are being overly cautious and if there is any risk that Billy is not going to be 100% we will rest him,” said England’s attack coach Scott Wisemantel.
Super Typhoon Hagibis is also threatening Saturday’s game in Yokohama, and the attack coach is ready for anything.
He added: “Regarding the typhoon we have no control over the weather and we have to prepare for the game and see how it goes.” added Wisemantel.
“Regarding the permutation around the game and shared points we are just concentrating on playing to win. I live in a bubble and I don’t know where the game would be played. One thing I have learnt in Japan is that they prepare for the worst and then usually it doesn’t eventuate.”
Typhoon holds no fear for rain-hardened Scots
Scotland’s clash with Russia on Wednesday was originally under threat for Hagibis although it appears to have changed course according to the latest from the Japanese metereological office.
But Scotland prop Gordon Reid insists inclement weather is no concern for his side.
“Come on, we are from Scotland. We have had worse weather – rain, hail, everything in one day,” said Reid. “It doesn’t matter. It’s fine. We have coped well with a lot more.
“We are from Glasgow, from Ayrshire. We’re not as posh as some from Edinburgh, but we are from Scotland. We are used to this kind of thing. Whatever it is, rain or shine, snow, it doesn’t matter. We’re going to go out there and play and give 100 per cent.”
Townsend has changed 14 of his starting XV for tomorrow’s clash, meaning a first start for Peter Horne.
The centre said: “I have just had to be patient. I am delighted to be involved. It feels like my World Cup final almost and I’m really looking forward to it.
Ross ready to boss Fiji
Another man itching to get out on the field is Wales back-rower Ross Moriarty.
Aaron Wainwright appears to have jumped him in the pecking order for Wales’ first-choice back row.
But Moriarty gets his chance at No.8 tomorrow against Fiji alongside Josh Navidi and James Davies.
“Obviously I’ve been disappointed not to get the starts, but nonetheless this is a World Cup and it’s great to be involved and to come off the bench and get some minutes to contribute in some big games,” he said.
Ross Moriarty is enjoying the competition for places in the Wales back row 💪
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) October 8, 2019
“I’ve got the start this weekend and I’m really excited for it. I’ve been working hard in training and it’s been great competition in the back row and we’re all fit and firing.”
On the threat Fiji pose, Moriaty added: “We know it’s going to be tough. We’ve been working hard in the last week and we’ve done our analysis. We know they have some great individuals, but so do we and we’re just going to make sure we put everything out there and do the job.
“I was fortunate to play for Gloucester’s A team against Fiji A when I was 18, which was a bit of an eye-opener. To be on this stage now makes it even bigger and I’m excited to get out on the pitch, get a start, and show everyone what I can do.”
Azzurri call for young props
Giosue Zilocchi, 22, and Danilo Fischetti, 21, have been rushed out to Japan to help solve Italy’s prop crisis.
With Andrea Lovotti and Nicola Quaglio suspeneded and Simone Ferrari and Marco Riccioni injured in their heavy loss to the Springboks, the youngsters have come to the rescue.
And Zilocchi cannot wait to sample some action in their final group game against the All Blacks.
He said: “It is good to be here. The journey was a bit long, but it was worth it.
“I was watching the match with the rest of my Zebre team-mates and Gino (Italy team manager Luigi Troiani) called. That night I was supposed to be playing for Zebre against the Dragons, but in the end I didn’t play.
“I’ve never played a New Zealand team before. It is the biggest match a rugby player can play.
“It is my first challenge at this level, and I know that a World Cup is another level up. I will try to show what I can do if I’m called upon.
“I was with the lads for two months and left the guys in August. I knew I might be needed if any of them picked up an injury.”
Carbery shakes off injury bug
Ireland’s final clash of the Pool stage is against Samoa and Joey Carbery is itching to get a chance.
Simon Easterby today said Ireland have their strongest squad to pick from so far this tournament after their early games were clouded by injury concerns.
Carbery has had his fair share of frustrations, injured against Italy in August his squad spot was under threat and while he came off the bench in the Japan defeat, he was a late withdrawal against Russia.
But the Munster man is hoping he can make his mark this weekend.
He said: “I’m good, I had a little bit of a setback last week, which was frustrating. But I’m feeling really good this week. It was nothing major last week, so I’m in a good spot.
“To be honest I was lucky enough to even be considered (after injuring his ankle against Italy in August) and that I did enough to get on the plane. So it’s been pretty good – I’m happy to be here.
“It has been quite a frustrating year with injuries, but now I feel back to myself. So that’s a huge confidence boost for me and I suppose I can just get back out there and do what I’ve been doing.
“Things were falling into place (before he was injured) – I was getting a lot of game time and was getting into the swing of things. The injuries were frustrating, but it just shows that, with game time and consistency, playing at 10 I can get a lot better.
“They showed a lot of faith in me and I’m very grateful for it, so I want to repay that faith now. I want to go out and do the job and show them that they weren’t wrong. So that’s definitely in the back of my mind.”