Tokyo – English take Australia and defending champions New Zealand played Ireland when the Rugby World Cup in Japan suddenly became serious in the quarter-finals on Saturday – with the coach's reputation and future at stake.
For the four coaches, Saturday's match could be their last task because four years of investment and planning dropped to 80 minutes in Oita and Tokyo.
The first World Cup in Asia has seen 37 matches since it began a month ago, with three matches canceled after strong typhoons hit Japan at the final weekend of the pool phase, leaving many dead.
England and New Zealand both canceled their last billiard match, giving them an extra week to prepare for the top eight – but might also rob the match of sharpness.
Steve Hansen from New Zealand and Joe Schmidt from Ireland both resigned after the World Cup, while Australian coach Michael Cheika's contract rose and Eddie Jones from England is expected to move.
Wales plays France and entertains Japan, the tournament's surprise package, against South Africa in the quarter-finals on Sunday, also in Oita and Tokyo respectively.
England's clash with long-time Australian rivals looks tighter than two matches on Saturday, and features an interesting match between two coaches who play together at club level.
Jones's decision to drop George Ford's half-flew caused a big debate when he returned to his Six Nations combination from Owen Farrell in the shaft with Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade who were fit-again at the center.
Cheika, who packed with Jones at the Randwick club in Sydney, was also surprised when he appointed 19-year-old Jordan Petaia, Australia's youngest World Cup player, outside the center only in his third Test.
With both teams displaying impressive ball carriers, the midfield promises to be one of the main battlegrounds along with Scrum, where Australia has greatly improved in recent times.
There will also be a lot of focus on interference where the combination of 'Pooper' Australia's most proud of David Pocock and Michael Hooper will appear against English winger Tom Curry and Sam Underhill, nicknamed "the kamikaze boys".
England number eight Billy Vunipola, returning from an ankle injury, will play with his brother, striker Mako, who made his first start since May after a hamstring problem.
"I think I surprised some boys," said Billy Vunipola.
"Wednesday is our biggest training day, and I said 'Lads, this could be our last session.' I got a few stares from the players and they all laughed at him, but I, like, I mean it, if we didn't appear, we will go home. "
The All Blacks, going for the third title in a row, started as strong favorites against Irish teams who had not yet reached their step in Japan.
However, both teams pay attention to the fact that Ireland has won two of their last three matches against the world's top-ranked teams, after winning 40-29 in 2016 in Chicago and winning 16-9 in Dublin last year.
Conor Murray and World Player of the Year Johnny Sexton, one of the toughest and most powerful central defender pairs in the world, led Ireland's hopes against a young New Zealand back line.
Beauden Barrett remained behind defender Richie Mo's interest in Hansen's dual playmaker tactics, while Jack Goodhue came to the center and Sevu Reece and George Bridge on the wing.
"This is a little bit real, a little 'I can't believe it's finally here.' This time four years ago I was a spectator like you guys and it wasn't a good place to be," said Sexton, who missed the Ireland Quarterfinals 2015 – lost 43-20 to Argentina – with groin pressure.
"So I really hope to go there on the biggest stage and try to show what we can do against the best team in the world, a team that hasn't lost in two World Cups."
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19
England v Australia, Oita – 9:15
New Zealand v Ireland, Tokyo – 12:15
WEEK, OCTOBER 20
Wales v France, Oita – 09:15
Japan v South Africa, Tokyo – 12:15