By Ross Sanderson •
Published: 16 Sep 2023 • 13:15
England at the Rugby World Cup.
England and Japan face off tomorrow night in round two of their group-stage fixtures of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Both sides got off to winning starts last weekend, with England beating Argentina 27-10 and Japan brushing past Chile 42-12. It is first versus second in this Pool D fixture and could well be the game that all but secures qualification into the knockout stages for one of the teams.
There have been just three meetings between England and Japan on the international rugby stage but the history does stretch as far back as 1987. At the very first World Cup, hosted in Australia and New Zealand, England beat Japan 60-7 in Pool 1 and went on to qualify for the quarter-finals.
The more recent encounters are also in favour of the home nation. In 2018, England won 35-15 and followed up with a 52-13 win in 2022. Although history is on their side, England will know that rugby in Japan is growing year after year and will be wary that the Brave Blossoms have pulled off a number of big victories in World Cup games.
Steve Borthwick has made just three changes to his England starting fifteen, with Lewis Ludlam, Joe Marler and Kyle Sinkler coming in. Fans will also be encouraged to see the return of scrumhalf Ben Youngs and number eight Billy Vunipola, who both start on the bench. All eyes, however, will be on flyhalf George Ford to see if he can replicate his performance after scoring all 27 of England’s points against Argentina.
Japan boss Jamie Joseph has made a number of alterations to his side for Sunday’s clash, with the return of back-rowers Pieter Labuschagne and captain Kazuki Himeno a huge boost. Tomoki Osada also comes in at 13 to try and deal with the pace of opposite man Joe Marchant.
The matchup to watch will be on the wing between Elliot Daly and Jone Naikabula, as both teams like to play at speed and get the ball into those wide channels.
England to win: 1.05/1
Japan to win: 12/1
The game kicks off at the Stade de Nice at 8 pm UK time on Sunday night.
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Based in Edinburgh, Ross is an NCTJ-qualified journalist. Having previously lived in Madrid, he specialises in Spanish Culture, Sport and Cuisine.
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