Follow the latest news, team news and injury updates from the Rugby World Cup
Follow the latest news, team news and injury updates from the Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup breaking news: Latest news from the World Cup in Japan

Follow our live Rugby World Cup services for the duration of the tournament as we bring you the latest breaking news, views, injury updates and teams.

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Jones backs England to beat All Blacks

Eddie Jones has braced England to face the most dominant team in the history of sport but is convinced New Zealand can still be dethroned in Saturday's World Cup semi-final.

Jones points to the All Blacks' win percentage of 86 since lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy four years ago to support his view that they occupy a unique position despite competing in the Rugby Championship each year.

A 46-14 demolition of Ireland has set up a seismic showdown in Yokohama but Jones insists his quarter-final conquerors of Australia have the potential to seize greatness for themselves.

"We have a challenge this week because we are playing the greatest team that has ever been in sport," said Jones.

"If you look at their record I don't think there's a team that comes close to them for sustainability. Since the last World Cup they've won a high percentage of their Tests.

"You have to admire them, but then the challenge is to beat them and the reason I took this job is because I saw a team that could be great. That was the challenge and they are starting to believe it.

"New Zealand are a great team with a great coach with a great captain, but like any team they are beatable and there are ways to beat them. We know that with a World Cup semi-final the whole sporting world is looking on.

"You always want to play the best and New Zealand are the best - no one can dispute that. If you want to be the best in the world, you have to beat the best.

"Now talent doesn't matter - it's all about how strong the team is. When you get to this stage of the tournament, it's about how strong the team is.

"We're a strong team and we're getting stronger all the time. We're believing in each other, we believe in the way we play. We're playing to our strengths."

South Africa too strong

South Africa will face Wales in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals after beating hosts Japan 26-3 in a tough quarter.

The Springboks held a narrow 5-3 lead at half-time but ran in two second-half tries as the hosts tired and kept their defensive shape to seal a workmanlike success.

Match Report: Japan 3-26 South Africa

South Africa's scrum-half Faf de Klerk scores a try
South Africa's scrum-half Faf de Klerk scores a try

Whitelock warning for England

Sam Whitelock has warned England that New Zealand have the ability to win Saturday's World Cup semi-final by any means necessary.

The All Blacks inflicted a record World Cup defeat on Ireland in Saturday's merciless 46-14 quarter-final victory in Tokyo. Now the back-to-back defending champions will push their quest for an unprecedented third-straight World Cup crown to Yokohama, where they will meet Eddie Jones' England.

New Zealand shifted star fly-half Beauden Barrett to full-back in the summer and have reaped untold rewards of his twin-playmaker pairing with new number 10 Richie Mo'unga.

But the All Blacks battered Ireland in the tight exchanges on Saturday too, leaving second-row Whitelock purring on the all-court threat of boss Steve Hansen's men.

"It's the reality of playing rugby that there's so many different styles," said Whitelock.

"You can go out there and have an awesome backline and win games through them, or you can punt the ball up the tight five's jumper and play that way.

"But I'd like to think us as a team have a few different strengths, and it's nice to use a few of those in different games. It's pretty cool to see guys stepping up on the biggest stage, it's always what you dream of but when it happens it's great.

"If someone puts in a big shot in defence everyone else just wants to get in there and put in one as big if not bigger."

Whitelock's engine room partner Brodie Retallick starred amid New Zealand's ruthless dismantling of Ireland, and all after almost missing the tournament in the first place with a serious shoulder injury.

Hailing Retallick's stylish return, Whitelock revealed the All Blacks are relishing the challenge to push themselves on to ever greater heights.

"It was great to have Brodie back, he put in a big shift," said Whitelock.

"It just shows his quality that he can get back in and straight away produce performances to that level. That kind of thing gives everyone a huge amount of confidence, and it's always great to play alongside him. It's hugely exciting for us if we can keep setting our bar higher.

"It's always nice to be around for another week. It's great for us. There's massive awesome competition in the squad, we've got some amazing players who weren't in the 23 tonight. But that's just really helping us as a team. We're always trying to get better. Looking at the locks, Patrick (Tuipulotu) didn't play but he's been awesome for us in the tournament so far.

"You guys probably don't see the work he does for us in training, but this week he was awesome and that all definitely pays off for the entire squad on the pitch in the end."

Sam Whitelock
Sam Whitelock

Wales show fighting spirit

Wales launched a late comeback to defeat 14 man France 20-19 in a dramatic Rugby World Cup quarter-final to reach their second semi-final in eight years.

Ross Moriarty's try five minutes from time saw the Welsh come from 19-10 down at the break, as they eventually took advantage of Sebastien Vahaamahina's foolish red card on the 50-minute mark.

With France in control of the contest at 19-10, second row Vahaamahina deliberately and unnecessarily elbowed Aaron Wainwright in the face to receive his marching orders. It was a moment of madness that effectively cost his side a place in the semi-finals, after they had dominated most of the match.

Match Report: Wales 20-19 France

Wales celebrate their late try against France in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final
Wales celebrate their late try against France in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final

Youngs: We're still improving

Ben Youngs says there is more to come as England prepare for a World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.

The reigning world champions stand between England and a place in the final on November 2.

And while the All Blacks will present a formidable challenge in Yokohama next Saturday, England's quarter-final demolition of Australia underlined their own title credentials.

The 40-16 victory equalled England's record winning margin against the Wallabies, showcasing a ruthless approach as they scored 23 unanswered points after Australia moved to within touching distance.

"There is definitely more in us," England scrum-half Youngs said. "We feel we can still notch it up.

"Eddie (England head coach Eddie Jones) said to us afterwards 'it is the most exciting week to be a rugby player, so let's make sure we enjoy it, but let's make sure we get better'. That is the key - we have to keep improving.

"The exciting thing for me is I know there is more in this team. Against Australia, our edge D (defence) was a little bit vulnerable at times, a bit soft. We will tidy up some of those areas.

"What I am most pleased about is the fact that the game got tight and put us under pressure, and everything that we rehearsed and practised and sat in meetings about how we handle it and how we get a grip on it, we were able to do.

"That was really pleasing to do that in a huge game. Look back at South Africa in 2018, Scotland in the Six Nations, there have been times when we've been under the cosh and allowed cheap points. On Saturday, I thought that all that hard work we had done paid off."

Semi-Final confirmed: England v New Zealand

What it means to win a Rugby World Cup quarter-final - England's Ben Youngs celebrates
What it means to win a Rugby World Cup quarter-final - England's Ben Youngs celebrates

England have reached their first Rugby World Cup semi-final in 12 years and will meet double reigning champions New Zealand, which will be played on Saturday October 26, with a 09.00 BST kick-off.

After defeating Australia and Ireland respectively, England and the All Blacks will meet for the first time at a World Cup since 1999, when the Kiwis won 30-16 at Twickenham.

It will be a repeat of the 1995 semi-final in South Africa, where a Jonah Lomu inspired New Zealand ran out 45-29 winners.

The last time England made a semi-final was in 2007, where they beat hosts France to reach the Paris final, which witnessed a defeat to South Africa.

New Zealand won their last semi in 2015, in England, 20-18 over South Africa, and their 2011 semi-final 33-11 against Argentina.

England's last victory over Steve Hansen's side came in 2012, with the Kiwis then winning the next six, including 16-15 at Twickenham last November.

Match Report: England 40-16 Australia

Match Report: New Zealand 46-14 Ireland

Jones hails England's Samurai spirit

Head coach Eddie Jones was part of South Africa's World Cup coaching team in 2007
Head coach Eddie Jones was guided England to their first semi-final since 2007

Eddie Jones hailed his players' Samurai spirit following a record-equalling victory over Australia that saw them storm into the World Cup semi-finals.

England's 40-16 win against the Wallabies at Oita Stadium was secured by four tries, including a double for wing Jonny May on his 50th cap, and 20 points from captain Owen Farrell.

"It was a do-or-die game today," England head coach Jones said.

"And the best Samurai were always the guys who had a plan but could adapt, had a calm head but were full of aggression, and I thought we were like that today.

"The challenge is how we get better, because there is always a better Samurai around the corner.

"We want to keep challenging ourselves. How do we get better next week?"

And on May, he said: "It is a great achievement to play 50 times for your country. There is probably not a more professional player than him.

"He showed what a good finisher he is. He just had a little bit of a twinge at the end, so we took him off, but he should be fine."

England v Australia match facts

Kyle Sinckler bursts through to score his first ever England try in their quarter-final win over Australia
Kyle Sinckler bursts through to score his first ever England try in their quarter-final win over Australia
  • England's 24-point margin of victory was their biggest in a World Cup knockout game and Australia's heaviest defeat in the knockouts.
  • This was England's joint biggest victory against Australia in Test history (matching the 30-6 win in November 2017); in fact, England's three biggest wins against the Wallabies have come under Eddie Jones.
  • Australia have lost just three of their nine Rugby World Cup quarter-final matches, each of those three defeats has come against England (also 1995, 2007).
  • Jonny May became the first player to score a brace of tries in a World Cup knock-out match for England since Will Carling and Rory Underwood both crossed twice against New Zealand in the 1995 semi-final.
  • Sam Underhill (20), Mako Vunipola (18), Jamie George (17), and Owen Farrell (17) all surpassed the previous highest tackle tally in a World Cup match by an England player (five players previously made 16).
  • Kyle Sinckler became just the sixth prop to score a try in a World Cup knockout game and the first since Tony Woodcock in the 2011 final.

Controlled England delights Farrell

England captain Owen Farrell praised his team's response after Australia clawed the contest back to a one-point game, to eventually win 40-16.

"The boys were calm and in control, and we had clear messages about what we were going to do next," said Farrell, who landed four penalties and four conversions.

"The lads ripped into that and we managed to get some points back straightaway.

"This was a good performance, but we don't feel we are at our best yet.

"We are probably going to have to be better next week, so we are looking forward to working that out."

Angry Cheika no comment on future

Michael Cheika
Australia coach Michael Cheika

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika was non-committal about his future in the job after seeing England post an emphatic triumph to dump his side out of the World Cup and was angry to be asked in his post match TV interview.

"I am being honest, it's a cruel world when you are being asked those questions two minutes after being knocked out of a World Cup," he said.

"If you could find some compassion. Perhaps whatever your news outlet is, just think about people's feelings, just chill.

"They (England) played very well, very well organised defensively. They have obviously got a certain way they play the game.

"An exit is an exit. It doesn't matter if it's a final or a quarter-final. The opponent is irrelevant.

"For all the carry on, we are just going out to compete - it's painful either way."

Emotional Best

Rory Best (L) and Joe Schmidt have steered Ireland to second in the World Rankings
Captain Rory Best (L) and coach Joe Schmidt will both step down from the Ireland setup after this World Cup

Rory Best admitted Ireland's fixation with their World Cup quarter-final sticking point proved their undoing in the record 46-14 defeat to New Zealand.

"Everyone talks about the pressure that's on the All Blacks before quarter-finals but when you haven't won one and you feel you have a great coaching set-up and great group of players then maybe you put too much pressure on," said Best.

"Maybe we have been looking at this for too long and been so focused on it that we forgot to win some of the little battles along the way over the last 12 months.

"We wanted to set a bar than no Irish team has met before. We've done that numerous times over the six and half years with Joe (Schmidt).

"It was an onus on us to win a quarter-final because then it becomes a habit.

"With Joe, he helped take away a bit of the fear factor that the All Blacks held in the last three Tests. But when you do that they see you coming a lot more and when you get the best team in the world fully prepared and fully focused on you it becomes that little bit more difficult.

"And when you make a few errors and you let them get their tails up it becomes even more difficult."

Read full story and more quotes here

Schmit rues 'flat' Ireland

Joe Schmidt felt his Ireland side gave New Zealand too many "access points" into the game, during their World Cup quarter-final 46-14 hammering by the All Blacks.

"We turned the ball over, but we missed opportunities to get into their zone and really put some pressure on," he said.

"We kind of gave them a leg up and, when they get a points differential like they had, you are chasing the game.

"When you chase the game, you take risks that, if you are not executing perfectly, they're going to capitalise on the back of it."

Schmidt admits Ireland had been somewhat "flat" since earning their place as the number one side in the world, but that he leaves them "in a really good place".

He said: "When you reach a height, there is always a risk that you're going to just slip off that height a little bit.

"I don't think it was any complacency or anything else. I think we made a target of ourselves, certainly teams went after us a little bit more.

"We had been able to kind of sneak up on New Zealand a couple of times, and sneak up on a few other teams."

Japan coach hopeful

Jamie Joseph believes Japan have lulled South Africa into a false sense of security ahead of Sunday's World Cup quarter-final.

The Brave Blossoms boss has dubbed Japan's 41-7 loss to South Africa on September 6 a "rehearsal" not a World Cup warm-up - with the implication that Sunday's Tokyo rematch will be no dry run.

"The rehearsal in September, I'm calling it a rehearsal; that match was a warm-up game for South Africa and they'll find themselves in a unique position.

"I've renamed that Test match as a warm-up for South Africa and rehearsal for us and that's something that no other team in the World Cup quarter-finals have had and I think that's going to be a benefit for us.

"What is clear is what South Africa are going to do. It's clear because of their selection of extra forwards on the bench, it's not unique but shows they are physically going to approach the match using their forwards and being very physical.

"Consistency of their game around giving the opposition the ball and using defence and big forward pressure is a clear sign of intent and I guess that's what we've been preparing for all the way.

"What not so clear is what we're going to do and that's what I'm looking forward to."

England v Australia: By the numbers

England tackle rivals Australia in the first Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Oita on Saturday morning.

Here, the PA news agency looks ahead to the clash in numbers.

3 - World Cup wins between the two nations. Australia won the tournament in 1991 and 1999 but lost to England in the 2003 final.

9 - Australia remain ever-present in the quarter-finals, having now reached this stage in all nine World Cups to date. England are playing their eighth, having missed out in 2015.

3 - England's Luke Cowan-Dickie and Australia's Dane Haylett-Petty scored three tries each in the group stage. Only Wales wing Josh Adams, Japan pair Kotaro Matsushima and Kenki Fukuoka and Argentina's Julian Montoya scored more.

24 - points scored by England's Owen Farrell in the group stage, 10th among all players but only half of Japan fly-half Yu Tamura's tournament-leading total. Matt Toomua led Australia with just 18.

136 - Australia were the joint third-highest scorers in the pool stage, matching Wales with 136 points. England's 119 ranked joint sixth with Scotland.

6 - tries conceded by Australia in the group stage, the third most of all the quarter-finalists. England conceded only two, which came when they were leading the United States 45-0 and Argentina 25-3.

0 - England did not have a single player sin-binned in their three group games. Australia had three - Adam Coleman and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto against Uruguay and Isi Naisarani against Georgia.

Tony Calvin's tips

Yeah, you heard. Click the image below for unmissable betting advice from TC.

Rugby World Cup Betting Tips for the quarter-finals
Rugby World Cup betting tips ahead of the quarter-finals

Youngs: We'll fight until the end

Ben Youngs has urged England to "fight right until the end" when they collide with Australia in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final at Oita Stadium.

The biggest moment of the Eddie Jones era arrives on the island of Kyushu as four years of build-up to Japan 2019 reaches a win or bust clash with the Wallabies that could shape the head coach's future.

"You aren't going to go out there and accept things not going your way. You are going to fight right until the end," the Leicester scrum-half said.

"We have some boys in this team who don't know when they are beaten and I'm sure it goes without saying for any team participating this weekend that they will fight until the very end."

Dupont fit for Wales clash

Scrum-half dangerman Antoine Dupont is fit for France's World Cup quarter-final against Wales on Sunday.

Dupont, who Wales head coach Warren Gatland believes is one of the world's best number nines, had been troubled by a back problem.

But he will take his place alongside half-back partner Romain Ntamack in Oita.

Antoine Dupont
Antoine Dupont

France head coach Jacques Brunel has made five changes from the side that defeated Tonga last time out.

Dupont replaces Baptiste Serin, while skipper Guilhem Guirado returns, in addition to lock Bernard Le Roux, wing Yoann Huget and centre Gael Fickou.

Full-back Maxime Medard is the only survivor from the France team that beat Wales 9-8 in the 2011 World Cup semi-finals.

Team: M Medard; D Penaud, V Vakatawa, G Fickou, Y Huget; R Ntamack, A Dupont; J Poirot, G Guirado (capt), R Slimani, B Le Roux, S Vahaamahina, W Lauret, C Ollivon, G Alldritt.

Replacements: C Chat, C Baille, E Setiano, P Gabrillagues, L Picamoles, B Serin, C Lopez, V Rattez.

Gatland hails big-game mentality

Warren Gatland is relishing the prospect of a World Cup quarter-final against France and has backed Wales' big-game mentality.

Gatland, whose time with Wales ends after the tournament, said: "As coaches and players this is what you do all the hard work and training for.

"It's all for big moments and to try and get to finals.

"As a coaching group we've had a lot of success in big matches when it has really counted and mattered, whether that has been in Grand Slam games, European finals or Premiership finals with Wasps, or even on Lions tours as well.

Warren Gatland
Warren Gatland

"I think we've got a pretty good formula as a group about getting things right.

"It's not just about the physical preparation, it's about being mentally right and those top two inches everyone talks about.

"If you get that right in big games it can often make a big difference.

"I keep saying we are in a good place, we've prepared well and the preparation is done.

"In the next 24 hours, we will start building nicely, but we can't play the game before we are ready, and that's important.

"It's all done from the coaching perspective now. It's down to the players in the next 24 to 48 hours to really take ownership and control, and they've been doing that brilliantly already this week."

Cheika urges all-out attack

Michael Cheika insists Australia enter their World Cup quarter-final against England devoid of fear after promising all-out attack at Oita Stadium.

"I always say, but no one seems to believe me, that my attention is always on just Australia, the type of game we can bring and how we can attack the opposition whether that's with the ball or without it," Cheika said.

"Not thinking about how we're going to defend against the opposition and what they will attack us with. Then it becomes a battle of will, who wants to attack more?

"When I talk about attack I'm not just talking about with the ball, I'm talking about who wants to attack more.

"We're almost I suppose dead in that way because the fear inside us is dead. We're not afraid to go there and get it and that means it's going to be a great game."

Michael Cheika
Michael Cheika

Sexton fires NZ warning

Johnny Sexton has warned New Zealand that any repeat of their strong-arm tactics from Dublin in 2016 will lead to red cards in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final.

"I'm sure that's what they'll be speaking about going into this game, to go into it at full-tilt," said Sexton.

"As far as that second game in 2016 went, that was almost the turning point for a lot of the rule changes about high tackles.

"Some of the yellow cards that were given out and some things that were missed, they would be reds now.

"They probably weren't intentional at the time, but if they happened now there would be different consequences. So I don't think it will happen again.

"They had a game recently when they went down to 14 against Australia, so I'm sure they will be very disciplined on the day."

Ireland's Jonny Sexton scores a try
Ireland's Jonny Sexton scores a try

Underhill relishing opportunity

England's 'Kamikaze Kids' face Australia's feared 'Pooper' combination in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final admitting the Wallabies duo served as inspiration when growing up.

Tom Curry and Sam Underhill played together for the first time in the record win over Ireland in August and their impact at the breakdown, when carrying and in defence has seen them installed as Eddie Jones' preferred flankers.

At Oita Stadium they will collide with David Pocock and Michael Hooper, the veteran twin opensides who have operated in tandem to great effect since 2012, amassing 180 caps between them.

Comparisons have been drawn between the rival back rows and Underhill understands why.

"We're very much looking forward to it," said the Bath forward, who is one half of the pair dubbed 'Kamikaze Kids' by Jones in recognition of the destruction they cause in training.

"You want to challenge yourself against the best on the world and it's fair to say they're two world-class opensides.

Sam Underhill
Sam Underhill

"They're players who Tom and I when we were growing up and coming through looked at and inspired to be like, so it's a bit surreal to be coming up against them now.

"There are similarities between us in some ways. In the game now, everyone is expected to do everything.

"The traditional roles when you have a specialist seven or blindside or eight....yeah people have still got their strengths in certain areas but you have to be able to do everything.

"Even as a seven you're expected to be carrying, good at set-piece, good in defence and in the breakdown.

"That's probably why you see more sides picking two sevens because sevens can now do more, just as your sixes and eights can do more."

Aussies turn to teenager

Teenager Jordan Petaia will start at outside centre for Australia in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against England.

The 19-year-old is Australia's youngest Test centre since Jason Little 30 years ago.

He also becomes the first player born this century to feature in a Rugby World Cup knockout game.

He moves from wing to midfield, with Reece Hodge returning after serving a three-match suspension.

Hodge was banned following his citing for a high tackle on Fiji's Peceli Yato in the Wallabies' opening World Cup fixture last month.

Other changes see half-backs Christian Lealifano and Will Genia both start, plus skipper Michael Hooper, who wins his 99th cap, and prop Allan Alaalatoa.

Full-back Kurtley Beale, meanwhile, starts after completing graduated return-to-play protocols.

Saturday's encounter in Oita is the countries' seventh World Cup meeting, with the current head-to-head standing at 3-3.

But Australia have lost their last six games against England since beating them at Twickenham during the 2015 World Cup.

Team: K Beale; R Hodge, J Petaia, S Kerevi, M Koroibete; C Lealifano, W Genia; S Sio, T Latu, A Alaalatoa, I Rodda, R Arnold, D Pocock, M Hooper (capt), I Naisarani.

Replacements: J Uelese, J Slipper, T Tupou, A Coleman, L Salakaia-Loto, N White, M Toomua, J O'Connor.

Schmidt backs O'Mahony

Joe Schmidt has backed "big moments player" Peter O'Mahony to deliver again when it matters most in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand.

British and Irish Lions flanker O'Mahony has held off the challenge of the in-form Rhys Ruddock to start Ireland's last-eight battle with the All Blacks in Tokyo on Saturday.

"He brings a leadership and experience, and he's a very effective lineout operator for us," said Schmidt, of O'Mahony.

"Part of it is the structure, the way that he ends up across the width of the pitch. He tends to be playing in the wider channels, and therefore he's not as involved as some of the other players who are closer in.

"I think stats always tell part of the story but they don't tell the complete picture.

"And for us, there are things he can add for us that we think will be really important.

"He saved our bacon the last time we played the All Blacks with an exceptional turn and chase and the long arms that he reached out just to pluck the ball in front of Ben Smith, who really would have scored for certain if Pete hadn't got back and saved that.

"I think he won two balls on the ground in that game for us as well, and that's important.

"So he has been a bit of a big moments player for us; maybe not as many moments but the big moments, they count."

Peter O'Mahony
Peter O'Mahony

Experience key for Wales

Ken Owens believes that experience is a key factor behind Wales' successful big-game mentality.

The Six Nations champions tackle World Cup quarter-final opponents France in Oita on Sunday. It will be Wales' third successive last-eight appearance under head coach Warren Gatland, while they have beaten France in seven of the last eight meetings.

If they reach the semi-finals, then an appointment with South Africa could loom, and they have lost five out of six against Wales since 2014.

Throw in a 14-game unbeaten run between March 2018 and this summer, that included defeating Australia, winning two games in Argentina and toppling Ireland to claim a Six Nations Grand Slam, and Wales regularly get it right in high-stakes matches.

"I think it is the confidence we have got in each other," Wales hooker Owens said. "Everybody is pretty comfortable with their role in the squad, both on and off the field.

"We have had a good continuity in the squad over the last two years, which helps galvanise us. We know exactly what we are trying to achieve and where we are trying to get to. To be fair, the management prepare us well, and there is no stone left unturned. There is experience right across the squad now in big games.

Lions hooker Ken Owens
Wales hooker Ken Owens

Farrell in at ten for England

England have sprung a major surprise for Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against Australia by dropping George Ford and naming Owen Farrell at fly-half.

Ford has been superb as playmaker-in-chief since his restoration at 10 during the warm-up series for Japan and started all three group games in the position, but he is confined to a bench role for the Oita Stadium showdown.

Instead, Farrell will pull the strings as coach Eddie Jones reverts to his first choice midfield from the Six Nations, in which England's captain played inside centres Henry Slade and Manu Tuilagi.

The decision has shades of the World Cup four years ago when Ford was dropped for the pivotal group game against Wales in favour of Farrell, who on that occasion formed a heavyweight trio alongside Sam Burgess and Brad Barrett.

Jones has made three changes in personnel and two positional switches in pursuit of a semi-final against either New Zealand or Ireland.

Mako Vunipola is restored at loosehead prop after successfully making his latest comeback from a hamstring injury against Argentina, England's last outing after their Pool C finale against France was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Vunipola's return means Joe Marler drops down to the bench where he joins second row George Kruis, who has lost his place in the starting XV to Courtney Lawes.

The two positional switches are Farrell's shift to fly-half and Tuilagi's move from outside to inside centre.

Owen Farrell gets treatment during England v USA in the Rugby World Cup
Owen Farrell gets treatment during England v USA in the Rugby World Cup

Ireland turn to Herring

Rob Herring has flown to Japan to replace the injured Sean Cronin in Ireland's World Cup squad.

Leinster hooker Cronin has suffered a neck injury and has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament. Ulster front-rower Herring has linked up with Ireland, who face New Zealand in Saturday's quarter-final in Tokyo.

Ireland have also confirmed they will not appeal the three-week ban handed out to centre Bundee Aki, for his red card against Samoa.

Rob Herring - added to Ireland squad
Rob Herring - added to Ireland squad

Fagerson support for Townsend

Zander Fagerson insists Gregor Townsend is still the man to lead Scotland forward.

The forward said: "I'm 100 per cent backing Gregor, definitely. If you read everything (that's written about the team), you wouldn't play rugby in the morning.

"It's one of these things. If you read too many tweets it's not great, there's a lot of keyboard warriors out there.

"We've not been good enough. We know that. There's been some pretty harsh internal reviews. We'll take our learnings from it. If we learn from it, it will be worthwhile."

Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend

Vunipola boost for England

Billy Vunipola was injured in England's victory over Argentina
Billy Vunipola was injured in England's victory over Argentina

England rate Billy Vunipola as "very likely" to be available for Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against Australia at Oita Stadium.

In a major lift to Eddie Jones' men, the powerful Saracens number eight is on course to recover from the ankle injury that forced him off at half-time against Argentina 10 days ago.

"Billy is progressing really well. He has trained again today and we are very confident in his progression each day. He's very likely (to be available)," said defence coach John Mitchell.

Read full story here

Scotland could be punished

Scotland could face punishment for their "comments and behaviours" after hinting at legal action when their World Cup match against Japan was under threat of cancellation.

World Rugby has confirmed it will convene a hearing of its independent disputes committee, in light of Scotland Rugby Union (SRU) chief executive Mark Dodson's comments last week.

Dodson hit out at World Rugby's plans to cancel Scotland's final Pool A clash with Japan on Sunday if Typhoon Hagibis had left the Yokohama Stadium unsafe for action.

World Cup organisers managed to stage the match, with Japan defeating the Scots 28-21 and reaching the quarter-finals at their foes' expense.

But now Scotland could face sanction for their conduct in the days leading up to that clash.

"We've referred to the independent disputes committee the comments and behaviours of the Scottish Rugby Union," said World Rugby chief operating officer Alan Gilpin.

"On that basis it's probably inappropriate to comment any further."

More here

Ireland not playing mind games

Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby
Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby

Ireland insist they will not blink in the battle of the analysis mind games ahead of Saturday's World Cup quarter-final clash with New Zealand.

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen lit the fuse on a potentially explosive week on Monday by vowing to lay false traps for Ireland's master tactician head coach Joe Schmidt.

But even if All Blacks boss Hansen does set a few surprise moves for his Kiwi compatriot Schmidt, forwards coach Simon Easterby believes Ireland will be able to adapt on the run.

"I think there's no game where you don't try to manipulate the opposition, whether that's setting in a different way in certain situations in the game on attack or defence," said Easterby.

"I've no doubt they'll have something we haven't seen before and we'll have something they haven't seen before.

"So it's part and parcel of the game these days, every side is analysed, there's a lot of work goes on in the background to try and figure out how teams play the game, how they attack, how they defend.

Read more quotes here

Wales want revenge for 2011

Stephen Jones was part of the Wales side that lost to France in the 2011 World Cup semi final
Stephen Jones was part of the Wales side that lost to France in the 2011 World Cup semi final

Stephen Jones says that Wales' 2011 World Cup semi-final defeat against France will produce "great fuel" for Sunday's showdown in Oita.

Former Wales fly-half Jones went on as a second-half substitute eight years ago, missing a conversion as Wales suffered an agonising 9-8 defeat after skipper Sam Warburton had been controversially sent off.

This time around, Wales and France meet at the quarter-final stage, with Japan or South Africa awaiting the winners.

"It's great fuel to drive you forward to achieve your goals, and that's what that is," Wales assistant coach Jones said

"It was a tight game. Even when we were down to 14, we battled hard and it still could have gone either way.

"We had gathered a lot of momentum in that World Cup, and we were in a good place.

"It is unfortunate we lost the game and the manner in which we did. There were some wonderful experiences of that 2011 World Cup. Yes, it was disappointing. That's sport.

"This is a different group of players. Some were involved that day, but the vast majority weren't. You look at the recent games against France and the boys have had some good success."

Aki out of World Cup

Bundee Aki is shown the red card
Bundee Aki is shown the red card

Bundee Aki will miss the rest of the World Cup after receiving a three-match ban for his red card against Samoa.

The Ireland centre 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 quarter-final against New Zealand.

Click Here for the full story

Uruguay hooker cited for alleged unsportsmanlike conduct

Uruguay player Guillermo Pujadas has been cited for alleged unsportsmanlike conduct during Sunday's World Cup Pool D game against Wales.

World Rugby did not detail the specific allegation against Pujadas, who was Uruguay's reserve hooker in the game.

Wales won 35-13 in Kumamoto to book a quarter-final appointment with France next weekend.

"The player will attend a hearing before an independent judicial committee chaired by Adam Casselden SC (Australia) joined by former international players Leon Lloyd (England) and Stefan Terblanche (South Africa)," World Rugby said.

"The hearing will take place in Tokyo at a date and time to be agreed with the player and his union in light of his travel commitments."

Sexton says Ireland are hitting their peak

Johnny Sexton has questioned the "strange" negativity around Ireland's World Cup campaign, insisting Joe Schmidt's men are ready to peak for the All Blacks.

British and Irish Lions fly-half Sexton insisted Ireland always knew Japan's quality ahead of their 19-12 Pool A loss to the tournament hosts.

Japan beat Scotland 28-21 on Sunday to tee up a quarter-final clash with South Africa, handing Ireland a last-eight battle with back-to-back world champions New Zealand in Tokyo on Saturday.

Leinster star Sexton hopes Ireland have already shaken their typical World Cup quarter-final performance "out of our system" with that surprise loss to Japan - and now called on his side to produce one of their best-ever performances against the All Blacks.

"We've been building pretty well apart from that poor 60 minutes against Japan; everything else has pretty much gone to plan," said Sexton.

"There's been some negativity around us and we'd feel that's been pretty strange.

"But we're really confident in how we're building. We'd like to be playing a bit better in some regards at times, but hopefully we can put that performance out there on Saturday.

"We're very self-critical in terms of our performances and obviously after the Japan game we would have liked to have done things differently.

"But we knew how good a team Japan were, so we always knew that would happen if we didn't play well, and it did happen.

"So I think looking at the Scotland game last night, Japan were excellent again. They have been through the whole tournament.

"They were clinical with the ball, every time Scotland gave them the ball they seemed to hold it for 20 or 30 phases.

"It was pretty impressive, so I'm sure they will go on and really worry South Africa."

Wales set up France clash

Wales secured a World Cup quarter-final clash against France next Sunday - but they ended their Pool D campaign with an unconvincing 35-13 victory over Uruguay.

The Six Nations champions fielded only three of their probable last-eight starting XV - wing Josh Adams, centre Hadleigh Parkes and flanker Justin Tipuric.

But that could not excuse an often laboured, error-strewn display in Kumamoto as Uruguay - shock conquerors of Fiji last month - gave Wales a real battle.

England step up preparations

England have sought to overcome any loss of momentum caused by the cancellation of their World Cup group decider by engaging in a full-blooded training session on the day they would have been facing France.

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 will almost certainly 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.

"It was a tough session," Saracens hooker Jamie George said.

"All of our game training sessions try to go above and beyond Test match intensity and that was pretty tough in the heat here.

"It was good, the boys looked sharp and we are building nicely towards getting to where we want to be.

"We usually train at this intensity anyway so the fact the France game was off didn't make too much of a difference to us, but it was important to make sure we get a good hit out."

Scotland game gets green light

Scotland's World Cup fate will be decided on the pitch after their win-or-bust showdown with Japan was given the go-ahead following a stadium inspection.

The Dark Blues feared they would be knocked out of the tournament without kicking another ball if the match was cancelled in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis.

But following a "detailed assessment" of the match venue at Yokohama's International Stadium, the climax to Pool A with the hosts will take place as planned in front of a sell-out 70,000 crowd.

Gregor Townsend's team need to beat the Brave Blossoms by eight clear points to secure a quarter-final showdown with New Zealand in Tokyo, next Saturday.

Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend

Namibia determined as ever

Attack coach Mark Jones says Namibia will have no excuses if they do not end their long wait for a Rugby World Cup win against Canada on Sunday.

Namibia are contesting their sixth World Cup but have yet to pick up a victory, coming closest in a 17-16 defeat to Georgia four years ago.

A clash between the two lowest-ranked nations in this year's tournament - both already eliminated from Pool B - presents an opportunity to put an end to that unwanted record, with Canada having only registered one win in their last 15 World Cup matches.

"It's been very evident that this group of players have created a no-excuses environment," said Jones.

"Just because we haven't won a game at a World Cup in six attempts doesn't give you a divine right that we're going to win one at this event. We have to earn that right.

"We've stayed in the moment, focusing on our own detail and game, making sure we're the best Namibian team we can be.

"We won't need any excuses at the end of it because we'll leave the pitch knowing we left everything out there."

Canada are confident the match will go ahead despite the threat of Typhoon Hagibis, which has already led to the cancellation of two World Cup fixtures, and head coach Kingsley Jones says his side will be ready to cope with the difficult conditions in Kamaishi.

"The discussions about an option of there not being a match, that is something we'll deal with if it arises and, as it stands, we have to prepare the psychological side of sport," he said.

"We're preparing for a game, we look forward to the game. The weather conditions obviously are a factor in our preparations.

"We consider the game plan in the weather, that will certainly change, but until we have notification that there will not be a game, we are 100 per cent focused and on track and looking forward to that. That's the only thing we can do."

Namibia will hope Japan will be the venue of their first World Cup win
Namibia in action

Ireland through with bonus win

Ireland eased through the closing stages without fuss to seal a 47-5 win and book a quarter-final against either New Zealand or South Africa.

Click here for the report.

Meneses relishing challenge

Uruguay head coach Esteban Meneses is under no illusion about the challenge facing his players against Wales on Sunday.

Uruguay end their Pool D campaign at Kumamoto Stadium, having left a lasting impact on the tournament with their stunning victory over Fiji last month.

Wales, though, are chasing top spot in the group and a quarter-final against France in eight days' time.

"We have a team with fresh legs because we are going to need them," Meneses said.

"Wales have a very strong team, with players of great weight and experience.

"And we need to make an even greater effort than against Australia (last weekend), because it is a more physical team, more direct in attack and defence.

"It is going to be a very hard test, and we will face it with the same enthusiasm with which we face all the matches.

"It is a unique opportunity to measure ourselves against tier one rivals."

Meneses has made nine changes from the Australia game, with only German Kessler, Diego Arbelo, Manuel Leindekar, Felipe Berchesi, Nicolas Freitas and Andres Vilaseca remaining in the starting XV.

Uruguay's full back Felipe Etcheverry, right, and prop Facundo Gattas celebrate after beating Fiji
Uruguay's full back Felipe Etcheverry, right, and prop Facundo Gattas celebrate after beating Fiji

Decision expected 'soon'...

World Rugby says it aims to make a decision on whether Scotland's storm-threatened clash with Japan on Sunday can go ahead as early as possible.

Typhoon Hagibis is due to strike the eastern coast of Japan on Saturday, with the 1400km-wide super cyclone predicted to cause widespread damage.

Reports have suggested an inspection of Yokohama's International Stadium - where the climax to Pool A is due to be played - will to take place at 6am Japan time on the morning of the game (10pm Saturday BST), with a decision due two hours later.

But the tournament organisers say they will only be able to make that call once it is safe enough for inspections to take place.

A World Rugby spokesman said: "Our primary consideration is the safety of everyone.

"We will undertake detailed venue inspections as soon as practically possible with an announcement following as soon as decisions are made in the morning.

"Our message to fans continues be stay indoors today, stay safe and monitor official Rugby World Cup social and digital channels."

Hagibis is set to become Japan's biggest storm in 51 years and is expected to have a major impact on the country's transport and rail networks.

It could play a part in whether the game is allowed to go ahead, with a closed door match still a possibility.

World Rugby must make a final decision on whether the game goes ahead no later than six hours before the 7.45pm (11.45am BST) kick-off time.

Scotland must beat the Brave Blossoms to qualify for the quarter-finals. If they match is called off, it will be declared a draw and Gregor Townsend's team will exit the competition.

The calm before the storm in Japan
The calm before the storm in Japan

Wales look to tighten up

Shaun Edwards accepts that Wales need to tighten up defensively as they build towards the World Cup quarter-finals.

The Six Nations champions have conceded eight tries in three Pool D games, while official statistics revealed a high missed tackle count against Fiji on Wednesday.

"I realised we missed 25 tackles, then I thought to myself, 'who did we miss those tackles on?'" Wales defence specialist Edwards said.

"Then I looked, and there were 16 missed tackles on both of their wingers (Josua Tuisova and Semi Radradra) who, let's be honest, are not the easiest human beings to tackle.

"If anyone has an A-Z on how to tackle Josua Tuisova, please send me it. They are incredible athletes. Obviously, there were too many (missed tackles).

"But we only missed nine tackles on the rest of the team. Those two wingers are exceptional.

"Having said that, looking at the rest of the competition, France (Wales' likely quarter-final opponents) also have incredibly talented individuals, similar athletes, and we do need to improve that situation."

Wales are back in action on Sunday, tackling Uruguay at Kumamoto Stadium.

A fourth successive win would make it the first time since 1987 for them to go unbeaten through a World Cup pool phase.

And they will be red-hot favourites to post a third bonus point victory from four starts, setting them up for a showdown with Les Bleus.

"They (Uruguay) are a good attacking unit, but we just have to turn up with the right attitude tomorrow and put in a performance that we can be proud of," Edwards added."

Edwards will again set the players a target of points conceded - they hit it against Fiji - and he said: "I set realistic targets because you have to realise there has never been as many points scored in rugby union as there is now.

"If teams get near your try-line, it's pick-and-go after pick-and-go. It is incredibly hard to get the ball.

"It's important I set realistic targets, which I feel like I do. In the first two games (against Georgia and Australia) we didn't hit them - we were one score off - but against Fiji we hit it.

"I think when you are playing teams who are in the top 12-ranked teams, it would be very unusual not to concede a try.

"But all I know is that a lot of the rules - and I am not saying it's a bad thing, it's probably good for the game - are pro-attack."

Shaun Edwards
Shaun Edwards

Did you know...

...there was some RUGBY today. Yes, that's right: none of this typhoon talk, just pure old rugby, in which Australia were victorious without impressing anyone.

Click here for the report.

Marika Koroibete
Marika Koroibete scores

Jones: We want to play

Jamie Joseph insists Japan are desperate for Sunday's clash with Scotland to avoid falling prey to Super Typhoon Hagibis after declaring his team want to seize their place among the elite.

Joseph is smarting at the suggestion the World Cup hosts would be pleased to see the climax to Pool A cancelled due to the approach of the region's biggest storm of the year.

"We feel we've played and won three Test matches and that's put us in the best position to win this pool," Joseph said.

"Just in the past few days through the media reports I've read, I feel they've undermined the achievements of the Japanese national team and the significance of Sunday's Test for Japan.

"We've all earned the right to be considered one of the elite teams in the world. It's important for us to wake up on Monday morning and understand we're a worthy top eight team or we're not.

"The key difference here between us and Scotland is that we're driven and supported by the whole country.

"My team is motivated by achieving something great, not avoiding embarrassment."

Captain dropped

Gregor Townsend has dropped his captain Stuart McInally for Scotland's typhoon-threatened clash with Japan after opting to start Fraser Brown at hooker.

McInally was given the armband ahead of the World Cup but has struggled to produce his best form so far.

Brown, who started at flanker last Wednesday as the Scots thrashed Russia 61-0, is among three players who start for the second time in four days, with wings Darcy Graham and Tommy Seymour also retained.

Greig Laidlaw will now lead out the team at the International Stadium while Sean Maitland, who scored a vital double against Samoa in the Scots' first Pool A win, misses out with a groin injury.

Click here for the full story.

Stuart McInally scores against Russia
Stuart McInally scores against Russia

Scotland defiant

Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Mark Dodson says he will not allow Scotland to become the World Cup's "collateral damage" as he vowed to fight off any moves to cancel Sunday's vital clash with Japan.

World Rugby has been forced to call off two games on Saturday as Super Typhoon Hagibis prepares to wreak havoc across Japan's eastern coast.

Dodson said: "My view is that we're not going to let Scotland be the collateral damage for a decision that was taken in haste.

"I think there's alternative (venues) around Japan. The point to me, we are talking about now is not whether the game will take place on Sunday, that will be a purely meteorological issue. The issue will be if it can't take place then we're really, really pressing the point that we need to have to get this game delayed 24 hours later."

Parisse bemoans 'ridiculous' cancellation decision

Sergio Parisse has hit out at World Rugby's "ridiculous" decision to cancel Italy's World Cup match against New Zealand.

Super Typhoon Hagibis is due to hit Japan this weekend and World Rugby has cancelled the clash, along with England's meeting with France.

While improbable when facing the back-to-back world champions, a victory for Italy over New Zealand would have sent the Azzurri into the last eight.

And veteran number eight Parisse has pulled no punches in criticising tournament organisers for not relocating the fixture or altering the match day, instead simply cancelling the encounter and awarding both teams two match points.

"It is difficult to know that we won't have the chance to play a match against one of the great teams," said Parisse.

"If New Zealand needed four or five points against us it would not have been cancelled.

"It is ridiculous that a decision of this nature has been made because it isn't like the fans arrived yesterday.

"It is ridiculous that there was no plan B, because it isn't news that typhoons hit Japan.

"Sure everyone might think that Italy versus New Zealand being cancelled counts for nothing because we'd have lost anyway, but we deserved to be respected as a team.

"We had the chance to play in a big stadium, against a great team.

"The alternative is plan B. When you organise a World Cup you should have one in place."

Despite being 35, captain Sergio Parisse remains Italy's most dangerous and inspirational player
Sergio Parisse

Typhoon Q&A

Head spinning with permutations, heart full of fury over lack of contingency plans?

What you need is a Super Typhoon Q&A, which you can get by clicking the patented 'calm before the storm' image below.

The calm before the storm in Japan
Click for the big questions answered

Scotland fan furious

A Scottish rugby fan who has travelled to Japan with his family for the World Cup has described the decision to cancel matches due to Typhoon Hagibis as "complete nonsense".

England's final Pool C game against France in Yokohama and New Zealand's last Pool B match against Italy in Tokyo have both been abandoned due to the approach of the super typhoon.

"It's ridiculous," Peter Sellar, 47, from Peebles in Scotland, told the PA news agency. "I don't know how many years this has been in the making and to have a contingency plan in place for nothing?

"Even if you play the games behind closed doors or put them back by a day or so. Three-, four-, five-day turnarounds are standard. We can all do it."

Scotland face elimination if their game against Japan is called off.

Townsend: We must maintain focus

Gregor Townsend has called on World Cup chiefs to do everything they can to ensure Scotland's win-or-bust clash with Japan goes ahead on Sunday - even if it means playing the crucial showdown behind closed doors.

World Rugbyhave delayed making a decision on scrapping the Scots' final Pool A match with the hosts at Yokohama's International Stadium until the morning of the game in the hope that the worst of the storm will have passed by the 7.45pm (4am BST) kick-off time.

Click on the image below to read what Townsend has to say.

Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend is encouraging his side to maintain focus

England match cancelled

England's Rugby World Cup game against France has been cancelled due to Super Typhoon Hagibis.

Coach Eddie Jones confirmed that England will leave Tokyo for Miyazaki, the location for England's pre-tournament training camp.

"We found out officially this morning but there were rumours flying around last night so we were glued to our phone last night," Jones said.

"We didn't really care (when hearing the news). We were preparing for the game in game mode and now the game is off, we're in preparation mode. We can't control it.

"We're told what to do. There's no use speculating on the alternatives. We're excited about having great preparation for the quarter-finals.

"We'll have a short pre-season camp in Miyazaki and then we're off to Oita. We have an exceptional record in two-week preparations."

World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin confirmed at World Rugby's press conference that the clash with France has been cancelled, along with New Zealand's match against Italy.

Click here for the full story.

Scotland wait on weather

Scotland are set to ride into storm-hit Yokohama after World Cup chiefs delayed a decision on scrapping Sunday's crucial clash with Japan until the morning of the game.

Gregor Townsend's team are scheduled to travel to the city on Friday even though they still have no firm guarantees the win-or-bust clash with the hosts at the International Stadium will go ahead as Super Typhoon Hagibis prepares to wreak havoc across the region.

World Rugby say the game remains under review and a decision on whether it goes ahead will be taken just hours before the scheduled 7.45pm Japan time (11.45am BST) kick-off.

If the match is cancelled, the Scots would be controversially blown out of the competition without kicking another ball - a shock move that is certain to spark a huge outcry from the Scotland faithful.

But the Scottish Rugby Union insist it must be played to protect the sporting integrity of the World Cup and are willing to work with the organisers to ensure it goes ahead safely - with playing it behind closed doors one of the options being looked at.

There's a storm coming...

Super Typhoon Hagibis is currently on course to affect England's rugby world cup meeting with France in Tokyo on Saturday.

The 170mph storm seems set to make landfall in southern Japan by Saturday and England's Pool C fixture in Yokohama could be hit.

Scotland's Pool A clash with hosts Japan at the International Stadium, Yokohama on Sunday could also be affected by the storm.

Ireland's match against Samoa in Fukuoaka on Saturday and Wales' Pool D fixture against Uruguay in Kumamoto on Sunday currently looks less likely to face disruption.

World Rugby said in a statement it had "robust continency plans" in place should the typhoon hit the weekend pool matches.

Click here for more.

England continue their preparations ahead of Saturday's game with France
England continue their preparations ahead of Saturday's game with France

'Different animal'

Simon Easterby believes Ireland's latent fury from their shock loss to Japan could turn their pack of forwards into a "different animal" against Samoa.

Asked if the pack will channel those frustrations into the Samoa clash, Easterby said: "I think so; there were a few elements we didn't get right.

"I think our scrum has been effective, it's been a good weapon.

"We've had a couple of maul opportunities that we didn't quite nail, one for a penalty against us for disconnecting but we had a good set-up.

"We had some good outfield mauls where we got a little bit of success at changing the picture in defence.

"If we can bring all of that this weekend, along with the quality ball-carrying and quality work in the contact area on the attack side, then we'll hopefully find a different animal on Saturday.

"But Samoa won't just roll over and allow us to do that. We've seen how tough they can be in large parts of their games and that presents a challenge in itself.

"So it's going to be physical and we've got to be in the right place emotionally, but we've also got to have our smarts and game understanding to allow us to get through those periods when things don't go our way."

United front

United States forward Nate Brakeley believes his side still have plenty to play for despite being unable to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.

"Obviously that (automatic qualification) would be something that the US have never done before, so it would be new ground for us as a programme and as a nation," Brakeley said.

"In terms of the impact, to be able to know and be confident that we would be back in four years, it would basically allow us to lay out a four-year plan instead of scrambling and focusing on a bunch of short-term stepping stones.

"It's hard to build a programme when you're always looking for qualification so having that in our back pocket allows us to take a much more holistic look at planning for the next four years. It's a massive goal of ours."

Barclay keen to impress

John Barclay found himself relegated to Scotland's second-string after his Ireland horror show but hopes a stormer in Shizuoka could seal a return to Gregor Townsend's top team for Sunday's crucial World Cup showdown with Japan.

The Edinburgh flanker started the tournament as the Dark Blues' first choice openside.

But he paid for a sloppy display in Scotland's dismal Pool A opener against the Irish with his place as he, and Ryan Wilson, were dropped for the clash with Samoa.

With Hamish Watson also ruled out injured, that opened the door for Jamie Ritchie, Magnus Bradbury and Blade Thomson to form a new-look back three against the Pacific Islanders and they took their chance with a display brimming with energy during the 34-0 drubbing.

Townsend's men now face the gruelling prospect of facing both Russia and the Brave Blossoms just four days apart and must take at least nine points to have any chance of reaching the last eight.

But while the majority of Townsend's top stars have been wrapped up in cotton wool ahead of the do-or-die clash with the hosts this weekend, Barclay will be roughing it up against Russians at the Ecopa Stadium.

It was a game he likely thought he would play no part in just three weeks ago but he is refusing to sulk and is ready to use the opportunity to prove he should still be one of the leaders in Townsend's pack.

He said: "The big game for me is Russia, I have no idea what the team will be for Japan.

"I guess the reality is that the guys who are playing against Russia will be on the outskirts for the next game.

"It doesn't take much to work out. But, equally, for the guys who are playing against Russia there is huge motivation to get involved for that Japan match.

"The reality is there will need to be a big performance and I need to prove I deserve to be involved against Japan."

England will take no risks with Vunipola

Billy Vunipola appears increasing unlikely to play any part in England's final World Cup group game against France.

Vunipola injured his left ankle in Saturday's bonus-point victory over Argentina and after repeatedly receiving treatment on the pitch, was withdrawn at half-time and has undergone a scan.

While refusing to rule him out of the climax to Pool C against France, attack coach Scott Wisemantel revealed that the Saracens number eight has been doing recovery and rehabilitation work instead of training with the rest of Eddie Jones' squad.

"We're being overly cautious. If there's any risk he will not be 100 per cent he won't play, but I don't know the outcome of the scan. If there's any risk, we won't risk him," Wisemantel said.

May the force be with us

Jonny May has taken the opportunity to wax lyrical over Eddie Jones' vision and potential to execute it as England set about winning the World Cup.

Shrewd career move from May, that.

Click here for more.

Ireland braced for Typhoon

World Rugby is monitoring a typhoon that could hit Japan on Saturday and stop Ireland's World Cup campaign in its tracks.

Typhoon Hagibis has formed in the Western Pacific Ocean off the south coast of Japan, with forecasts suggesting it could hit the island of Kyushu this weekend.

Ireland face Samoa in the Kyushu city of Fukuoka on Saturday, where Joe Schmidt's men need a bonus-point victory to seal a place in the quarter-finals.

Any games cancelled at the World Cup due to weather problems are registered as scoreless draws.

That scenario would allow Scotland the chance to leapfrog Ireland into second place, should Gregor Townsend's men see off both Russia on Wednesday and hosts Japan on Sunday.

Click here to read more.

Sweeping changes for Scotland

Gregor Townsend has made 14 changes to his Scotland line-up ahead of Wednesday's crucial World Cup clash with Russia in Shizuoka.

Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham is the only man to keep his place from last week's 34-0 hammering of Samoa as Townsend looks to keep his top stars fresh for Sunday's do-or-die final Pool A showdown with Japan.

With the Scots needing to take all five points on offer against the Bears before beating the hosts at the weekend, while also ensuring the Brave Blossoms do not outscore them on the bonus point front, the Dark Blues head coach has decided to take no chances by asking too many of his players to turn out twice in the space of four days.

Townsend's selection means full-back Blair Kinghorn, centre Pete Horne, lock Ben Toolis and hooker George Turner will all get a taste of World Cup action, while scrum-half Henry Pyrgos - a late replacement call-up for the injured Ali Price - will do the same if he gets off the bench.

The head coach said: "First and foremost we've picked a team we believe is capable of defeating an increasingly impressive and combative Russia side, who are looking to finish their pool campaign on a high.

"A number of our players are getting their first start or Test in this tournament and have been itching to play their part in this World Cup, by helping the team deliver a winning performance on Wednesday."

Townsend added: "Any successful World Cup campaign is built on a squad effort and those players who didn't get the opportunity to start against Samoa really helped provide that team with a quality week of preparation.

"Now it's their chance to get stuck into our next important game as we enter the final week of our pool matches."

Vunipola faces ankle check

Billy Vunipola will discover the severity of his ankle injury on Tuesday as England sweat over his availability for the climax to their World Cup group campaign against France.

Vunipola failed to appear for the second-half of a 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.

"He is being assessed, that will go on throughout the day and then we'll see how he pulls up. He has another 24 hours and then we'll make a firm diagnosis."

If Vunipola fails to pull through then Tom Curry or Mark Wilson will deputise in the back row, but his absence will still have a significant impact on England's ball carrying.

Mako Vunipola made his comeback from a hamstring injury against Argentina and would fill the void, but Hatley insists there are other options in the Red Rose ranks.

"We plan for all eventualities and with what we have got in Ellis Genge, Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes and Kyle Sinckler, there are people to pick up the slack when Mako and Billy don't play," Hatley said.

"We have played a lot of rugby without them. Billy is an important figure for us, but other people pick up the slack."

Fiji call on Mata

Fiji head coach John McKee has made one change for Wednesday's World Cup Pool D game against Wales in Oita.

Viliame Mata has been called into the back-row, replacing Peceli Yato from the side that beat Georgia last week.

Fiji must win their final group match to keep alive a remote chance of reaching the last-eight.

"The six-day turnaround (from Georgia) is fine because we are doing a little bit less training than we usually would in a Test match week to make sure that the players are fresh," McKee said.

"We take some good momentum out of the Georgia game, but at the same time, we know we have to step up against Wales, who are a much tougher prospect than Georgia.

"We've looked at Wales closely and we can see what a strong side they are around the breakdown. One of the closest battles will be around the breakdown.

"Wales certainly look to attack the ball on the carriers and either try to win turnovers or slow the ball up.

"That is going to be a critical area for us, firstly to make sure we get good continuity and that secondly we are effective enough to get quick ball."

Fiji team versus Wales: K Murimurivalu; J Tuisova, W Nayacalevu, L Botia, S Radradra; B Volavola, F Lomani; C Ma'afu, S Matavesi, M Saulo, T Cavubati, L Nakarawa, D Waqaniburotu (capt), S Kunatani, V Mata.

Replacements: M Dolokoto, E Mawi, P Ravai, A Ratuniyarawa, P Yato, N Matawalu, J Vatubua, J Matavesi.

Wales make two changes

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made two changes to the starting line-up for Wednesday's World Cup clash against Fiji in Oita.

Flanker James Davies and number eight Ross Moriarty both make their first starts of the tournament as Wales target a victory that would confirm a quarter-final place.

Davies replaces Justin Tipuric, while Josh Navidi moves from number eight to blindside flanker instead of Aaron Wainwright, with Moriarty featuring following two powerful performances off the bench.

Gatland has otherwise kept the side the same as that which accounted for Georgia and Australia in Wales' first two World Cup games.

Fly-half Dan Biggar, who failed a head injury assessment during the Wallabies clash in Tokyo eight days ago, is fit to resume.

If Wales beat Fiji and then defeat Uruguay next Sunday, they will reach the last-eight as unbeaten group winners for the first time in a World Cup campaign since 1987.


L Williams (Saracens); G North (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), H Parkes (Scarlets), J Adams (Cardiff Blues); D Biggar (Northampton), G Davies (Scarlets); W Jones (Scarlets), K Owens (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), J Ball (Scarlets), A W Jones (Ospreys, capt), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), R Moriarty (Dragons).

Replacements: E Dee (Dragons), R Carre (Saracens), D Lewis (Cardiff Blues), A Shingler (Scarlets), A Wainwright (Dragons), T Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Patchell (Scarlets), O Watkin (Ospreys).

Warren Gatland will step down as Wales boss after the 2019 World Cup in Japan
Warren Gatland

Italian pair banned

Italy props Andrea Lovotti and Nicola Quaglio have both been banned following an incident during Friday's World Cup clash against South Africa.

Lovotti was sent off by referee Wayne Barnes for a lifting tackle on Springboks number eight Duane Vermeulen, while Quaglio was cited for his involvement in the same tackle that saw Vermeulen dropped head first to the ground.

Both players attended a disciplinary hearing in Tokyo on Sunday and were suspended for three matches.

In a statement World Rugby said: "Lovotti admitted the act of foul play and accepted that it warranted a red card.

"Quaglio accepted that he had committed an act of foul play, but denied that it met the red card threshold.

"Having considered all the evidence and after hearing from the players and their legal representative, the panel upheld the citing against Quaglio and imposed a sanction of three matches for both players."

They will miss Italy's final group game against New Zealand next Saturday as part of their bans.

Andrea Lovotti sees red for Italy
Andrea Lovotti sees red for Italy

England looking forward not backwards

George Ford insists England have finally buried the memory of their dismal World Cup performance four years ago after claiming a quarter-final place in Japan.

Eddie Jones' title contenders became the first team to secure passage into the knockout phase after overcoming Argentina 39-10 at Tokyo Stadium, in the process completing a third successive bonus-point victory.

With a game to spare - Saturday's Pool C climax against France - England have already surpassed their showing in 2015 when they became the first host nation to exit the tournament at the group stage.

"It's a bit of a different feeling," said Ford, who was present when defeats to Wales and Australia ushered in one of Twickenham's darkest hours.

"It's hard to believe that four years ago we were out of the World Cup at this stage, but we wanted to learn from that.

"We've moved on now and are in a position where we want to be four wins from four games."

England's George Ford (10) celebrates scoring his side's opening try
England's George Ford (10) celebrates scoring his side's opening try

Beard back in full training

Wales lock Adam Beard is set to join full World Cup training this week as he continues his recovery from appendix surgery.

The Ospreys forward had an operation in Cardiff on Wales' tournament departure day more than three weeks ago.

Beard then flew to Japan ahead of the opening Pool D game against Georgia, linking up with the squad nine days after his colleagues arrived, and he appears to be on course for a potential playing return.

Wales face Fiji in Oita on Wednesday, before meeting Uruguay in Kumamoto four days later.

"'Beardy had that operation, which was unfortunate, and then he lost three or four kilos," Wales head of physical performance Paul Stridgeon said.

"He is a great kid who does everything we ask, as do all the players, so we've just been getting as much food into him as we can.

"He has been working hard, doing some extra weights sessions as well, and he has rehabbed well.

"He's back into full training this week, so he has done well. He might be a couple of kilos down on what he was before, but that won't affect him in the game."

Click here for the full story

Adam Beard
Adam Beard

France book quarter-final spot

France secured their place in the World Cup quarter-finals with a 23-21 victory over Tonga at the Kumamoto Stadium.

France will now face a shootout with England next Saturday to determine who will finish top of Pool C.

Virimi Vakatawa and Alivereti Raka went over for tries for France, with Romain Ntamack booting 13 points. Sonatane Takulua, Malietoa Hingano and Zane Kapeli scored the Tonga tries.

Click here for the full match report

All Blacks too strong for Namibia

New Zealand's power and class eventually shone through as they wore down brave Namibia 71-9 in Tokyo.

Namibia battled and matched the All Blacks early on and New Zealand led only 10-9 after half an hour before stepping up their game to break clear and run in 11 tries as they won the last 50 minutes 61-0.

Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown and Ben Smith all crossed for a pair of tries, with Angus Ta'ava, Joe Moody, Sam Whitelock, Jordie Barrett and TJ Perenara also touching down.

Barrett added eight conversions for a personal haul of 21 points.

Click here for the full match report

Jones won't attend Sayle funeral

The Rugby Football Union has confirmed that England head coach Eddie Jones will not be attending the funeral of former Randwick coach Jeff Sayle, who died on Monday.

Jones explored the possibility of flying from Tokyo to Sydney to be present for the service that will be held Friday, but the logistics of the journey have persuaded him against it.

England have already qualified for the World Cup quarter-finals after defeating Argentina and they face France on Saturday to determine who finishes top of Pool C.

Jones, who was coached by Sayle at Randwick, had considered departing Japan after Thursday's team announcement and returning on the morning of the climax to the group phase.

PA Media understands that former Wallaby Glen Ella, who provided coaching assistance to England in 2016, will pass on condolences to Sayle's family on Jones' behalf.

"Obviously I'd like to go because Jeff was a great mate of mine, but I've got a lot of responsibility coaching England at the World Cup. I'm conscious of that," Jones said.

"The travel makes it difficult so, much as I'd like to go, I will be staying in Japan."

Eddie Jones' England have now won six of their last seven matches
Eddie Jones - won't attend funeral

Scotland fully focused on Russia

Zander Fagerson says the picture could not be any clearer for Scotland after Japan's last-gasp push sent their World Cup quarter-final race down to the wire.

The Dark Blues gathered as a squad to watch the Brave Blossoms take on Samoa in Toyota City.

Gregor Townsend's men were hoping to see the hosts slip-up against the Pacific Islanders but were left disappointed as they battled through, with Kotaro Matsushima clinching a bonus-point win deep into injury time.

The result means Scotland must now take the win and the extras on offer against Russia on Wednesday before beating Japan by four clear group points when they square off in their do-or-die showdown four days later to ensure a place in the last eight.

But that is the clarity of vision Glasgow tighthead prop Fagerson is looking for.

He said: "It was a funny one, in the heat of the moment, you do certain things, (and watching the game as a squad is) what we decided to do.

"It has made the picture clearer for us, what we need to do against Russia first and what we need to do against Japan in the last game. The picture is very clear now.

"Can we afford to start thinking about Japan? Not really, no. We have Russia first and if we don't get the job done against Russia there is no point in even thinking about Japan because we need those five points.

"Everything is focused on Russia now and getting that bonus-point win."

Zander Fagerson
Zander Fagerson

No difference for Aki

Bundee Aki insists he will treat facing his fatherland Samoa exactly the same way he took on New Zealand in November.

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.

Aki acts as an emotional touchstone for this Ireland squad, his physicality crucial to Joe Schmidt's side - and he has declared himself ready to repeat that stunning All Blacks showing if he rolls out against Samoa.

"That would be a proud moment, if I do get to that stage," said Aki.

"But I would treat it exactly the same as the way I focused on playing against New Zealand as well.

"I've just got to try and focus on what I can do best for the team first, and we'll see how we go this week and hopefully I can help the team put in a good performance."

Ireland's Bundee Aki scores a try v Argentina
Ireland's Bundee Aki scores a try v Argentina

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