Rugby World Cup

Bundee Aki handed three week ban

The New Zealand born player was sent off in the 47-5 Pool A win over the Samoans in Fukuoka on Saturday, for a high tackle on UJ Seuteni.

Aki faced a disciplinary hearing in Tokyo on Monday night, contesting the red card decision in a bid to be available for Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand.

But the 29-year-old failed in that quest and was hit with a three-week ban, that would even rule him out of the World Cup final, should Ireland make it that far.

England hold full-blooded training session making up for France game

The all-Six Nations clash that was due to be played in Yokohama on Saturday fell victim to Super Typhoon Hagibis and was declared a draw, sending both teams into the quarter-finals.

England face Australia in Oita and have begun preparations in Miyazaki, the setting for their pre-tournament training camp.

Just a few hours before they had been due to clash with France, all 31 members of the squad except the injured Billy Vunipola and Jack Nowell were involved in a practise session that developed into a game played at full throttle.

RWC Quarterfinals have been confirmed

In the first quarterfinal, England will take on Australia at this Saturday before New Zealand takes on Ireland on the same day in the second quarterfinal.

The third Quarterfinal will see Wales take on France this Sunday while Japan will take on South Africa.

The semifinal takes place on the 26th and 27th of this month while the final will be held on the 2nd of next month.

Meanwhile in the games last night, Tonga beat USA 31-19, Wales thrashed Uruguay 35-13 while hosts Japan beat Scotland 28-21.

     

Pacific nations call on World Rugby to do more

Fiji were the last Pacific side to reach the quarter finals in 2007 and bowed out of contention at the current tournament with a narrow defeat by Japan on Wednesday.

Between the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the start of the current tournament Fiji played eight tests against so-called tier one nations, winning three and losing five.

That included victory over France in Paris last year which lifted the Flying Fijians to a best ever eighth place in the world rankings.

Fiji not looking past Wales

Victory would ensure automatic qualification for the next World Cup and also keep alive their faint hopes of advancing to the quarter finals.

But coach John McKee said they're not looking beyond the 80 minutes on the field at Oita Stadium.

"The players are very much focused on their performance in the game because, as players and as a team, what we can control is how we perform," McKee said.

"We look for our top performance and, if we can put in our top performance, then those other things look after themselves."

Wallabies welcome 10 new faces into side for first-ever clash against Georgia

There are five faces that remain from the 45-10 defeat of Uruguay, with Jack Dempsey, Nic White, Matt To’omua, Kurtley Beale all retained, while exciting rookie Jordan Petaia swaps to the right wing.

David Pocock will captain the new-look side in Michael Hooper’s absence as his workload is eased ahead of a probable World Cup quarter-final in Oita next weekend.

Remarkably, it’s just the seventh time Hooper will start off the bench in what’s set to be his 99th test appearance, and only the second time he’s done so with Michael Cheika as coach.

England wait on Billy Vunipola ankle injury update ahead of 'Le Crunch'

Vunipola failed to appear for the second-half of the 39-10 victory over Argentina on Saturday that guaranteed their presence in the quarter-finals with the Pool C finale at International Stadium Yokohama still to play.

The marauding Saracens number eight is the only player to have started all 12 of England’s games this year and the overwhelming priority will be to ensure he is fit for the last eight.

“Billy has had a scan and we will have a clearer picture tomorrow (Tuesday),” scrum coach Neal Hatley said.

All Blacks to practise tackling technique

New Zealand props Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tuungafasi were yellow carded for making contact with the head in tackles during their 71-9 Pool B victory over Namibia in Tokyo on Sunday.

Referee Pascal Gauzere opted not to give the pair red cards because both the Namibian players were falling and close to the ground when contact was made.

"We said last night the yellow cards are under the guidelines, they were fair," Hansen said on Monday. "But the game is incredibly difficult under those guidelines when players are falling at your feet."

Fiji make one change for Wales

Viliame Mata replaces Peceli Yato at number eight. In the reserves, prop Eroni Mawi has been swapped with Lee-Roy Atalifo in the only other change to the 23 that comprehensively thrashed Georgia in Osaka, 45-10.

Fiji's quarter final hopes are effectively over after earlier defeats by Australia and Uruguay but head coach John McKee said his squad was determined to sign off from the tournament with a positive result.

"We see this final pool game as both a challenge and an opportunity. It is important to finish the pool stage on a high note," he said.

Aki hoping to achieve 'proud' moment against Samoa

The Ireland juggernaut centre admitted it would be a source of huge family pride should he get the nod to take on Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday.

Aki was born in Auckland to Samoan parents and starred with the Chiefs before joining Connacht in 2014, committing to Ireland in both rugby and community.

The 29-year-old conjured a barnstorming performance when Ireland dispatched New Zealand 16-9 in Dublin in November, producing the perfect riposte to All Blacks coach Ian Foster who had questioned his residency qualification.