France

France 35-22 Italy

Les Bleus overcame Rugby World Cup finalists England in their opening game at the Stade de France and saw off Italy to start with two straight wins for the first time since 2016. 

Gregory Alldritt crossed on the stroke of half-time after Matteo Minozzi had reduced the arrears following early scores for Teddy Thomas and Charles Ollivon. 

Romain Ntamack's superb solo try then preceded a loss of concentration from France that was punished by Federico Zani. 

Farrell offers no excuses

France made a dream start to the Fabien Galthie era at Stade de France, though England gave them a huge helping hand on a wet Sunday in Paris.

The Rugby World Cup runners-up dominated possession and territory, but a double from new captain Charles Ollivon after Vincent Rattez's early try and nine points from the boot of Romain Ntamack put clinical Les Bleus 24-0 up.

A brace of sublime solo tries from Jonny May set the nerves jangling, yet England could only muster a bonus point courtesy of Farrell's penalty with the last kick of the game.

Uncapped France duo to start

Montpellier duo Bouthier and Haouas will start at full-back and tighthead prop respectively in Paris at the dawn of a new era under head coach Fabien Galthie.

Charles Ollivon captains Les Bleus for the first time, while livewire wing Teddy Thomas returns to the starting line-up after missing out on the Rugby World Cup.

Galthie has put his faith in youth for the tournament, with Boris Palu and Cameron Woki hoping to make win their first caps off the bench in 'Le Crunch'.

France adds Fiji, Vanuatu, Guam and two Samoas to 'blacklist'

Paris updates the list annually and it now comprises 13 countries, including Panama, Oman as well as the British and US Virgin Islands.

They have been found not to be respecting criteria in matters of fiscal transparency and in the fight against the erosion of the tax base.

Vanuatu has also been placed on the European blacklist.

However, France has removed Niue, Nauru and the Marshall Islands from the blacklist, after they agreed to comply with OECD provisions - which also apply to 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.