France

Leone Nakarawa closing in on a return to Glasgow

Nakarawa was sacked by Top 14 club Racing 92 after he returned from the World Cup in Japan two weeks late, with a statement from the club slating the 62-test international for setting “deplorable example” for his now-former teammates.

Widely regarded as one of the world’s premier second rowers, Nakarawa’s newfound free agency has spurred interest from clubs around the globe.

Portugal the underdogs against France and Germany

The three heavyweights were drawn together in a tough-looking Group F for next year's tournament, with a play-off contestant still to be added.

France and Germany will enter as winners of the past two World Cups, while Portugal are preparing to defend the trophy they unexpectedly won in 2016.

Santos' side were also crowned inaugural Nations League champions in June but the wily 65-year-old coach quickly positioned his team as underdogs.

"It will be a strong group, two favourites and a candidate," Santos told reporters.

Pregnant woman killed by dogs in France during hunt in the area

The body of the 29-year-old, who was walking her own dogs, was discovered near the town of Villers-Cotterêts.

She died after "several dog bites to the upper and lower limbs and the head," prosecutor Frederic Trinh said.

Tests on 93 dogs were being carried out in an attempt to establish which of the dogs were responsible for the attack.

Five dogs belonging to the woman were among those being tested.

An autopsy showed that the victim suffered dog bites to the head, torso and arms. Police said they had opened a manslaughter investigation.

Sebastien Vahaamahina retires from France just 24 hours after his red card against Wales

The France lock received a red card from referee Jaco Peyper, following a TMO review, for elbowing Aaron Wainwright in the face when France were leading 19-10 in early stages of the second half. Wales subsequently fought back to win 20-19.

And while Vahaamahina has come in for heavy criticism for his role in France’s defeat, some media outlets in France are reporting that the lock had decided before the World Cup that he would retire following the tournament, regardless of how far France advanced.

Ireland knock off Wales, France thrash Italy

The Irish, beaten 57-15 by England, won in Cardiff for the first time since August 2015 after scoring three tries in the Rugby World Cup warm-up match, two for Jacob Stockdale and a penalty try bringing Wales' 11-game home winning streak stretching back to November 2017 to an end.

 The two teams meet again next Saturday in Dublin and the defeat will rankle more with Gatland as he remains bitter about the manner in which he was dismissed as head coach by the Irish in 2001.

"It was massive for us," man of the match Jack Carty told Channel 4.

Brunel still unsure of final France squad for Rugby World Cup

Brunel initially named a young group of 31 plus six reserves on June 18, more than three months before the start of the tournament in Japan, leaving out Mathieu Bastareaud and Morgan Parra entirely.

But having since worked with the extended squad of 37 and made various changes for injuries, while beating Scotland at home and losing away in back-to-back warm-up matches, Brunel is still pondering his options.

Les Bleus host Italy on Friday in their final match before heading to Japan, where they begin their campaign with a tricky test against Argentina on September 21.

Amicable resolution sought over disputed Matthew and Hunter Islands

The Vanuatu Daily Post reported that last month the two countries concluded a second round of maritime boundary negotiations in Belgium.

The disputed islands lie south-south-east of Vanuatu and New Caledonia and have been the cause of recent tensions after a French naval mission landed in January and planted their flag.

Vanuatu claims sovereignty over Matthew and Hunter.

Dominion of the islands includes the surrounding ocean and seabed with its commensurate commercial prospects.

France won't cede disputed islands to Vanuatu

The long-running dispute over the Matthew and Hunter Islands, which sit between New Caledonia and Vanuatu, flared again recently with the visit of a French warship.

The dispute has been going on for decades, and tempers flared when the French crew painted the tricolour flag on a large rock in January.

That led to calls for Vanuatu to expel French diplomats.

Vanuatu's foreign minister rejected those calls, instead calling for negotiations with Paris to resume.

Another All Black off to France

The club has announced that the 28-year-old has signed a three-year deal.

Whitelock has played sevens Tests for the All Blacks.

Highlanders teammate and All Black outside back Ben Smith announced in December that he has heading to Pau at the end of the year.

Pau are coached by Simon Mannix and the club has a number of New Zealanders playing including Jamie McIntosh, Peter Saili, Colin Slade and Tom Taylor.

They are currently 11th in the Top 14 championship.

     

New Caledonia restates France's claim on Matthew, Hunter islands

They issued a statement after the pro-independence FLNKS movement restated its position that Matthew and Hunter islands belonged to Vanuatu's heritage.

The three said last November's independence referendum showed a majority of New Caledonians wanted to stay French.

They said they would therefore oppose any attempt to dispossess the country of part of its land and wealth.

FLNKS leader Daniel Goa said unlike the people of Vanuatu, the Kanaks had no cultural links to the two islands.