Rugby World Cup

Japan name side for Rugby World Cup opener

Despite losing heavily in their final World Cup warm-up match against South Africa in Kumagaya a week-and-a-half ago, the Brave Blossoms impressed in many aspects during the 41-7 defeat.

However, even with a strong showing in the second half, Joseph has rung the changes for the first match of his side’s home tournament.

Blindside flanker Michael Leitch will become the second player to captain Japan at two World Cups, following in the footsteps of former loose forward Takuro Miuchi.

Samoa cover tattoos at Rugby World Cup as sign of respect for Japan

But the cover up will only go so far, it has been revealed.

The Samoan players will wear skin suits after the team consulted a Japanese cultural expert.

Captain Jack Lam said: “We had someone coming in and giving us a heads-up about what we could expect in Japan.

“There’s a lot of similarities in our cultures but when it comes to the tattoos we have obviously got a lot of tattoos, it’s quite normal in our culture.

“But we are respectful and mindful to what the Japanese way is. We will be making sure that what we are showing will be OK.”

Adam Coleman's poignant tribute to his late father Pau'u Afeaki, the former Tongan skipper

The Hobart-born Wallaby has played 34 times under Michael Cheika since getting his first cap in 2016 and with the 27-year-old now set for a money-spinning move to London Irish in the English Premiership, he expressed his gratitude for his family in helping him enjoy the career that he has.  

Gigantic rugby ball breaks world record with its size ahead of Rugby World Cup

The giant ball was introduced to a gathered crowd in South Molton before a large crew carried it to a kicking tee.

The ball measures in at 5.98 metres in length with a diameter of 3.70 metres and was made to official rugby specifications, meaning it could be played with - in theory.

Guinness World Records attended the unveiling and confirmed it to officially be the world’s largest rugby ball, beating the previous record held by the one used to promote the Hong Kong Sevens tournament in 2011.

     

England forward Maro Itoje knows what to expect from Tonga

A clash against the big-hitting Pacific Islanders launches England’s World Cup quest in Sapporo on Sunday in what will be only the third meeting between the rivals and their first since France 2007.

Itoje has played alongside the Vunipolas at Saracens for six years and since 2016 has operated in the same England pack, leaving a lasting impression of the ruinous impact the brothers of Tongan heritage can have.

“I’ve seen what those two have done to people! It can be dangerous if you allow it to be,” Itoje said.

Nasi Manu recovery on track for England opener

Manu was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year and missed the entire 2018 season as he underwent treatment.

He was then named 'Ikale Tahi captain for this year's Pacific Nations Cup, but had to withdraw from the campaign just before it kicked off because of a pectoral injury.

"He's been fantastic in the way that he has really worked hard to get back and all bearing well he is looking good and [hopefully] he will be up for selection against England but only time will tell," Alatini said.

Springboks want a strong effort from match officials

The Boks have previously felt they have not always got the rub of the green from the officials in clashes with the world champions, especially in areas such as the breakdown and scrum.

With only two points separating the sides on aggregate in their last four matches, it suggests fine margins could decide the Pool B opener.

"Hopefully the match officials will respect the game because if you look at the way things are between us and New Zealand, I think we're more balanced now," Stick said.

Owen Farrell works on tackling technique as World Rugby cracks down on dangerous play

Farrell was guilty of reckless no-arms challenges against South Africa and Australia last autumn – escaping punishment for both – to raise concerns over his risky style of halting opponents.

World Rugby are determined to rid the game of contact to the head and in May issued a directive clarifying the process for officiating high tackles and shoulder charges, including the wider use of cards.

While England head coach Eddie Jones is concerned that games risk being “destroyed” by a poor decision from officials, he has also seen the value in refining Farrell’s approach.

Wales train with 'wet balls and baby oil' ahead of World Cup opener

Head coach Warren Gatland believes that humidity is going to be a factor during the tournament in Japan.

England boss Eddie Jones feels his side are fully equipped to cope with such a scenario, and Wales have also left no stone unturned.

Day-time temperatures at Wales’ current base in the southern Japanese city of Kitakyushu are 30 degrees-plus, with 75 percent humidity, and similar weather is expected elsewhere during the 44-day competition.

Flying Fijians settling in well ahead of Wallabies opener in Japan

The Flying Fijians arrived in Abashiri City over the weekend and got their final intense fitness training session in on Saturday ahead of a rest day on Sunday.

"We really went really hard and intensively one of our last really big physical days before the test match," John McKee said.

Mckee said he was pleased with their preparations for the tournament so far and this final week is all about the Wallabies.

"Just working through our clarity and making sure the players really know our gameplan inside-out," he said.