2019 RWC

England coach names 31-man RWC squad

McConnochie, who was part of the Team GB side that finished runners-up to Fiji in the sevens at Rio 2016, was forced to withdraw from the match against Wales on Sunday but has done enough in training to earn a seat on the plane to Japan.

His selection caps a remarkable rise for the 27-year-old winger, who has played just one season of English Premiership rugby with Bath.

Ireland hungry for success

Ireland were unable to repeat their 2018 Grand Slam heroics, finishing third after losing to both England and a Wales side that pulled off a clean sweep to secure the title in March.

Captain Best says Ireland will be ready to put that disappointment behind them at the showpiece in Japan.

Best, who will retire after a tournament, which will also bring an end to head coach Joe Schmidt's reign, said: "When Joe first came in the big question was 'how do we perceive ourselves?'. The big answer was 'inconsistent'.

Petaia has 'skip in step' as he continues World Cup push in return from injury

After making his return from a foot injury for Wests in Queensland Premier Rugby almost a fortnight ago, the teen speedster was loaned to QPR rivals Sunnybank for the final round of fixtures to allow him valuable game time as he continues to recover from a foot injury that cruelled his Super Rugby season.

After a 20-minute cameo in his return, Petaia played half a game for the Dragons in their 41-29 win over Bond University on Saturday.

And while he had few chances in open space, Sunnybank coach Evan Willis said there were signs Petaia was returning to his best.

All Blacks' World Cup jersey unveiled

The jersey pays homeage to both Māori and Japanese cultures.

Designed by Y-3, the collaboration label between adidas and legendary Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, the jersey was launched at a breakfast event in Auckland today.

Yohji Yamamoto, who is world renowned for his striking, avant-garde designs, said: "We wanted to create a jersey that brought together the Japanese and Māori cultures.

Nonu's World Cup dream appears to be over

Coach Steve Hansen has unveiled 41 players to attend a "foundation day" in Wellington next week in the first significant step towards winning the Webb Ellis Cup for a third-straight time.

There are few notable omissions aside from Nonu, whose last Test was the triumphant 2015 World Cup final.

The 36-year-old played for French club Toulon before returning to Super Rugby with the Blues, where his performances had been solid until last week's virtuoso performance against the NSW Waratahs.

Australia can be surprise package at World Cup

The Wallabies endured their worst test campaign in 60 years in 2018, winning four out of 13 matches and slumping to sixth in the world rankings.

However, former scrumhalf Gregan, who scored 99 points in 139 internationals, believes Michael Cheika's men can peak come tournament time in September, just as they did in 2015 when they reached the final.

"They do have time in a World Cup year, which is a unique year. It is about getting it right when you get over here," said Gregan in an interview with Reuters in Sapporo.

Former All Black Joseph faces up to Japan challenge

He'll have the weight of the host nation's expectations on his shoulders and it's a challenge he's not shying away from.

But who is the man of Ngati Maniapoto and Ngati Rarua descent?

Joseph has sport in his blood.

"Very sporting family, both parents played sport and coached sport. Summer's were full of softball, Mum played hockey in the winter. Dad played rugby and softball."

The whole whanau were talented athletes.

Joseph's grandad and great grandfather played for New Zealand Maori, other relatives played for the All Blacks.

Warburton says Wales can win the World Cup

Wales convincingly beat defending champions Ireland 25-7 in Cardiff at the weekend to claim the Grand Slam and a first Six Nations triumph since 2013, and Warburton says the side now have no peer, bar, perhaps, New Zealand.

"Wales deserved to win this and it sets them up so nicely. I don't want to get too excited but, because South Africa and Australia are not the sides they once were, Wales have a real chance in the World Cup," Warburton wrote in his column for The Times.

Tonga talk up chances in World Cup 'pool of death'

The Kingdom finished second to Fiji in the combined Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) standings over the past two years.

The Flying Fijians thrashed Manu Samoa 38-16 in Apia on Saturday to win the 2017 title, which qualified Tonga in the Oceania 2 berth into Pool C alongside England, France, Argentina and USA.

Toutai Kefu said it would give his team direction and something to plan towards over the next two years.

"I think in terms of our mindset it suits us to play the harder teams," he said.

Cheika taking nothing for granted

Reigning champions New Zealand have been pitted against South Africa and Italy in Pool B, while England have France and Argentina for company in their five-team group.

The Wallabies, meanwhile, will go up against Wales and Georgia, as well as qualifiers from Oceania and the Americas, in Pool D.

But Cheika would not get carried away with what appears on paper to be a better draw, suggesting any hint of complacency could well prove Australia's downfall in Japan.

"When you're standing out there and singing the anthem, 0-0 all bets off," said Cheika.