The turf tore up in the first two games at the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium – and Ireland v Samoa is yet to come there
Concerns over Fukuoka pitch at Rugby World Cup
During its first outing at the Rugby World Cup, for Italy’s win over Canada, Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium’s pitch wasn’t holding up. Then during France 33-9 USA the turf was ripping up again.
With Ireland versus Samoa coming up in Fukuoka at 11.45am on Saturday 12 October, concerns are starting to be raised about whether the field will hold up for such an important match.
For the second game there, the ground staff had to replace a 12m strip of turf.
However, as the game wore on, the wear and tear was noticeable all over the park. At set-piece time, and even in open play, dirt was sent flying and some players lost their footing on the run.
After the match ended with a bonus-point win for France, some of the players were asked about the surface. USA hooker Dylan Fawsitt was pragmatic, saying: “Facilities in Japan have just been phenomenal, so I won’t say a bad word about any of it. It was a bit choppy on the pitch but it’s not something that affected the play in the game. I thought the standard of rugby today was quite high.”
However, France prop Cyril Baille was not so magnanimous, saying: “It was very tough, very difficult. When scrummaging the ground would come up, it wasn’t firm, and it was hard when trying to push.”
Eyes now turn to the next fixture in Fukuoka, with two physical sides in Ireland and Samoa set to do battle in the ultra-competitive Pool A. As you can see, plenty of others are concerned about the state of that pitch.
But the pitch was in a bad way in that first game, for Italy and Canada, and people definitely noticed…
Related: A guide to the Rugby World Cup venues
Rugby World Cup say of the ground in their official guide: “Surrounded by green, verdant forest and on the very doorstep of the wonderfully cosmopolitan yet laidback southern city of Fukuoka, Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium will be an incredible venue from which to enjoy some cracking Rugby World Cup 2019 action. Being a compact and intimate venue and a purpose-built rectangular stadium, fans will enjoy being close to the on-field action, and close to the city of Fukuoka in order to enjoy the pre and post-match atmosphere back in town.”
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