The Latest: Japan, Samoa PMs exchange jerseys, talk rugby

Samoa's Ed Fidow, left, slides in knees to stop Scotland's Sean Maitland scoring during the Rugby World Cup Pool A game at Kobe Misaki Stadium between Scotland and Samoa in Kobe, western Japan, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. Fidow got a red card for giving away. (Yohei Fukuyama/Kyodo News via AP)
In this Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, photo, New Zealand's All Blacks perform their haka ahead of the start of the Rugby World Cup Pool B game between New Zealand and South Africa in Yokohama, Japan. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)
Australian players huddle before leaving the field after the Rugby World Cup Pool D game at Tokyo Stadium between Australia and Wales in Tokyo, Japan, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. Wales won the match 29-25. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, pose with their national team's jerseys after they exchanged the uniforms at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (Toshiyuki Matsumoto/Kyodo News via AP)
Italy’s Sergio Parisse, left, carries the ball while being tackled by Namibia during the Rugby World Cup Pool B game between Italy and Namibia in Osaka, western Japan, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (Ichiro Sakano/Kyodo News via AP)
United States' coach Gary Gold watches his team warm-up ahead of the Rugby World Cup Pool C game at Kobe Misaki Stadium, between England and the United States in Kobe, Japan, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

TOKYO — The Latest on Day 13 at the Rugby World Cup in Japan (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Samoan counterpart Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi have taken a little time out from official business to talk rugby.

The two leaders swapped signed team jerseys ahead of the Japan-Samoa Pool A game at the Rugby World Cup.

With a touch of diplomacy, Prime Minister Abe said he was confident it would be "an excellent game" in Toyota on Saturday. Host Japan will be on the brink of a first appearance in the quarterfinals if it beats Samoa.

Malielegaoi is on an official visit to Japan and is expected to watch the game at City of Toyota Stadium. He congratulated Abe on the host team's fabulous start, when it beat Russia and then upset Ireland to lead the group. He also praised Japan's hosting of the tournament, the first Rugby World Cup in Asia.

Abe was at the opening game to watch Japan's victory over Russia. Malielegaoi won't have enjoyed Samoa's last outing — a 34-0 loss to Scotland.


3 p.m.

Samoa winger Ed Fidow has been cleared to play in the Rugby World Cup by a judicial committee after a hearing on Wednesday in regard to his red card against Scotland.

The committee ruled that the red card issued in Monday's game was sufficient punishment.

Fidow was issued two yellow cards, both of which conceded penalty tries.

The first was for going into the side of a rolling maul and collapsing it. The committee said that was a technical offense.

The second was for going knees first into Sean Maitland as the Scotland winger was sliding toward the tryline. The jolt knocked the ball from Maitland's grasp.

The committee said that yellow was for "a minor act of foul play which would not have warranted a yellow card but for the fact that the player had prevented a try being scored."

Samoa lost the match 34-0 in Kobe.

Fidow is available to face Japan on Saturday in Toyota.


2:30 p.m.

Sergio Parisse is back to captain Italy against South Africa, when an Italian win would put them through to the quarterfinals for the first time.

Parisse will also become the most capped player from the northern hemisphere when he runs on in Shizuoka on Friday. He'll play his 142nd test, overtaking former Ireland center Brian O'Driscoll. Only former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has played more tests (148).

Parisse's return at No. 8 is one of three changes to the starting lineup by coach Conor O'Shea but the only change in the forward pack from the 48-7 win over Canada last Thursday. Parisse replaces flanker Sebastian Negri.

South Africa-born Braam Steyn, who played at No. 8 vs. Canada, returns to the blindside flank for the game against the Springboks. There are two changes in the backline, with scrumhalf Tito Tebaldi and center Luca Morsi into the team. Michele Campagnaro switches from center to wing.

O'Shea matched South Africa's selection by also picking just two backs on his eight-man bench, with the game expected to be decided in the forward exchanges.

Italy opened with wins over Namibia and Canada and faces its first stern test in Japan against the two-time champion Springboks, who effectively need to win to stay alive at the World Cup.

Italy: Matteo Minozzi, Tommaso Benvenuti, Luca Morsi, Jaden Hayward, Michele Campagnaro, Tommaso Allan, Tito Tebaldi; Sergio Parisse (captain), Jake Polledri, Braam Steyn, Dean Budd, David Sisi, Simone Ferrari, Luca Bigi, Andrea Lovotti. Reserves: Federico Zani, Nicola Quaglio, Marco Riccioni, Alessandro Zanni, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Callum Braley, Carlo Canna


1:30 p.m.

Australia head coach Michael Cheika has given teenager Jordan Petaia at test debut as one of 13 changes to his starting lineup for the Rugby World Cup Pool D game against Uruguay.

The Wallabies are coming off a 29-25 loss to Six Nation champion Wales last Sunday in a game that likely will decide top spot in the group.

Michael Hooper will play his third game of the tournament, leading a largely second-string XV on Saturday at Oita against the Uruguayans, who opened with an upset win over Fiji but are coming off a loss to Georgia.

The 19-year-old Petaia will start on the left wing, becoming the first Wallaby to make his test debut at a Rugby World Cup since Berrick Barnes in 2007.

In the backline, Nic White and Christian Leali'ifano will combine again in the halves, restoring the pairing that opened the tournament against Fiji, and Tevita Kuridrani will get his first start of the tournament.

Australia: Kurtley Beale, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Jordan Petaia, Christian Leali'ifano, Nic White; Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper (captain), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Adam Coleman, Rob Simmons, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga'a, James Slipper. Reserves: Jordan Uelese, Sekope Kepu, Taniela Tupou, Rory Arnold, David Pocock, Will Genia, James O'Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper.


12:30 p.m.

Day 13 of the Rugby World Cup will have a North American flavor with the United States and Canada in action against two of the heavyweights of the sport.

The U.S. Eagles are coming off a 45-7 loss to 2003 champion England and will face a France lineup that opened with a crucial Pool C win over Argentina. The French are three-time finalists at the Rugby World Cup but have been inconsistent in recent seasons.

The Canadians have the toughest assignment of the week on Wednesday in Oita, facing a New Zealand All Blacks lineup that is aiming for a third consecutive world title.

The All Blacks opened with a 23-13 win over two-time champion South Africa and are hot favorites to top Pool B. Canada lost 48-7 to Italy in its opening match.


More AP Rugby World Cup: and

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