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Rugby World Cup

Worries for England Ahead of French Clash

England have a few extra things to worry about ahead of their crucial final group game against France on Saturday

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(Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

England’s bid to secure top-spot in Pool C of the Rugby World Cup in Japan has taken a couple of blows including the possibility of Super Typhoon Hagibis hitting.

As England had wished for pre-World Cup they go into the final set of pool fixtures at the top of Pool C with a quarter-final spot in the bag and a straight showdown with France on Saturday to decide who comes first and who comes second in the group. 

However, the last thing the English would have wanted to hear is that some key men could miss the game for different reasons, while there is also a chance that their final game could be called off all together. 

Super Typhoon Hagibis had been expected to cause problems for Ireland’s crunch clash with Samoa on Saturday, although it has now moved north and east which could now mean that any games in Yokohama are under threat. 

If they have to cancel the game it would not be the worst outcome for the men in white as they would progress as pool winners, with the game being classed as a draw, but it would take away some vital game-time for the players ahead of the quarter-finals. 

More worryingly for England is the health and fitness of some star players with captain Owen Farrell and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie suffering from a stomach bug which may keep them sidelined for the fixture. 

While yesterday No 8 Billy Vunipola was spotted wearing an ankle boot for an injury he sustained against Argentina last Saturday. With Jack Nowell and Joe Marler also being looked after for injuries they picked up in that game too. 

England have a number of of players that could step in for the unavailable stars if needed but it is far from ideal for Eddie Jones’ side. 

So far the English have dominated all matches they have featured in, while France have been a mixed bag, but a win for either side on Saturday will see them end the pool stages as the group winners meaning both will want to have fully fit squads available for the vital game.

Rugby World Cup

Jones Makes Spy Claims After England Training

England head coach Eddie Jones has made some big claims following his side’s training session earlier today

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England head coach Eddie Jones has claimed that someone was spying on his team’s training session earlier today in Japan.

Jones’ England are preparing for the biggest game of their Rugby World Cup campaign so far as they face the All Blacks on Saturday. However, Jones has made a claim that someone was filming his side during training but that he has nothing to hide. 

“There was definitely someone in the apartment block (across from the training ground) filming, it might have been a Japanese fan. You just don’t need to do it anymore. You can watch everyone’s training on Youtube. There’s absolutely no value in that anymore. Don’t care, mate. Don’t care. We knew from the start that they were filming and it doesn’t change anything we do. We have two security guards – Prince Harry’s… and the ex-Prime Minister’s. Only those two. Lovely blokes,” he said. 

The Aussie also admitted that he used to spy on team’s years ago but that he doesn’t see the point anymore. 

“We used to do it [secretly film opposition training sessions]. I haven’t done it since 2001. There’s no need. Everyone knows what everyone else does. There are no surprises in world rugby anymore,” he added. 

In a press conference filled with madness from Jones he also stated that most of New Zealand’s media reporters are “fans with keyboards”. 

Jones is known for playing mind-games before matches and has heaped the pressure on the All Blacks saying that his side have nothing to lose while their opposition have the weight of the world on their shoulders and it will be tough for them to be mentally prepared. 

“We don’t have any pressure, mate. No one thinks we can win. There are 120 million Japanese people out there whose second team are the All Blacks. They [the All Blacks] have got to be thinking, they’re looking for a third straight World Cup, so there will be pressure there. I don’t think they are vulnerable but the pressure is real. The busiest guy for them will be Gilbert Enoka. They will be talking about it the whole week. It’s potentially the last game for their greatest ever coach (Steve Hansen), and for their greatest ever captain (Kieran Read),” he finished. 

England and Jones will need to play the perfect game on Saturday when they take on the All Blacks on Saturday as the Kiwi’s are chasing a third successive Rugby World Cup title and it looks as though Jones will be trying to unsettle them before a ball is even kicked.

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Rugby World Cup

Hansen Explains Read’s Absence at Training

All Blacks captain Kieran Read was nowhere to be seen during the team’s training on Tuesday but head coach Steve Hansen has explained the situation

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All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has confirmed that captain Kieran Read did not train with the rest of the squad today as a precaution to an injury he picked up against Ireland on Saturday.

New Zealand are preparing for their Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown with England on Saturday and while the rest of the squad were training Read was absent with concerns growing over his availability but Hansen insists that the back-rower will be fit for the last-four clash. 

“There is no issue. You didn’t see him train because he was in the gym on the bike. He got a tight calf from the game the other day and we didn’t want to put him out on a wet track today. Yeah, 100 per cent,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Hansen has admitted that replacement forward Matt Todd will definitely not be available this weekend due to injury but should be in contention for next weekend. 

“He is making good progress but not fast enough so he won’t be available (for the England game). He should be right if we are lucky enough to play another game next week,” he added. 

With the game seeing two of the games best coaches line-up against each other in Eddie Jones and Hansen, the latter thinks that it would be stupid not to expect his opposite number to have a few tricks up his sleve ahead of the game. 

“We got the same question from the Irish last week. You’ll be naïve as a coach not to expect the opposition to do something different. That is their job. You practise it and you implement it. If it works, you are a superstar and if it doesn’t you’re an idiot. It’s a fine line we live, us coaches,” he finished. 

New Zealand are looking to make it to yet another World Cup final with victory on Saturday as they continue their quest to win three Webb Ellis Cup’s in a row. However, they know that it will be no easy task against an English side in full flight and fans will be hoping their star captain will be available when the teams are announced later in the week.

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Rugby World Cup

Officials Confirmed for RWC Semi-Finals

World Rugby have announced the officials that will take charge of this weekend’s Rugby World Cup semi-finals

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World Rugby have confirmed that Nigel Owens and Jerome Garces will be the referees for this weekend’s Rugby World Cup semi-finals at the International Stadium Yokohama in Japan.

Following yesterday’s controversy surrounding South African referee Jaco Peyper, where he was pictured posing with Welsh fans and appeared to be mocking the sending off of France forward Sebastien Vahaamahina, World Rugby confirmed that he was not considered for selection. 

That means that Wales’ Owens will take charge of England’s clash with reigning back to back World Cup holders the All Blacks on Saturday, with French duo of Romain Poite and Pascal Gauzere as his assistants. While South Africa’s Marius Jonker is the TMO. 

Meanwhile French referee Garces will be the man in the middle of Wales’ last four showdown with the Springboks on Sunday, with England’s Wayne Barnes and New Zealand’s Ben O’Keeffe as his assistants. Fellow Kiwi Ben Skeen will take to role of TMO. 

Speaking on the appointments chairman of World Rugby Sir Bill Beaumont congratulated those selected explaining they are the best in the business. 

“I would like to congratulate Nigel and Jérôme, the assistant referees and TMOs on their selection for the semi-finals. These are the best of the best, supported by a superb team, and we now look forward to compelling semi-finals at International Stadium Yokohama over the weekend,” he said. 

The officials were selected after a review of their performances so far in the tournament as well as making it a neutral selection for each game. As for Peyper it remains to be seen what his full punishment will be following an investigation by World Rugby.

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