Rugby The day after and not a ‘good craic’ for Ireland at RWC

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upended Saturday night by an unexpected loss to host Japan.

The Irish squad arrived in Kobe on Sunday for its next game with a rugby hangover. The subdued fans who followed the team on the Hikari bullet train carried the real hangovers, they said. But sore heads emanating from a night of consolatory consumption, not the usual Irish festivity.

Ireland’s loss puts all sorts of things into the players’ heads. A quarterfinal place is not assured, let alone a first Rugby World Cup title, which Ireland had dared to consider. Qualifying second in Pool A is on the table now, as is missing out completely. But second spot would almost certainly result in a quarterfinal against defending champion New Zealand, which took its top-ranking back from Ireland after the first weekend of games in Japan.

That match that early in the knockout rounds wasn’t part of the Irish plan.

Also, there’s a hefty list of casualties, players who are hurting physically as well as emotionally. Asked for an injury update, Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby said on Sunday: “There’s a

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