France

Portugal the underdogs against France and Germany

The three heavyweights were drawn together in a tough-looking Group F for next year's tournament, with a play-off contestant still to be added.

France and Germany will enter as winners of the past two World Cups, while Portugal are preparing to defend the trophy they unexpectedly won in 2016.

Santos' side were also crowned inaugural Nations League champions in June but the wily 65-year-old coach quickly positioned his team as underdogs.

"It will be a strong group, two favourites and a candidate," Santos told reporters.

Pregnant woman killed by dogs in France during hunt in the area

The body of the 29-year-old, who was walking her own dogs, was discovered near the town of Villers-Cotterêts.

She died after "several dog bites to the upper and lower limbs and the head," prosecutor Frederic Trinh said.

Tests on 93 dogs were being carried out in an attempt to establish which of the dogs were responsible for the attack.

Five dogs belonging to the woman were among those being tested.

An autopsy showed that the victim suffered dog bites to the head, torso and arms. Police said they had opened a manslaughter investigation.

New Honorary French Consul to Tonga appointed

He was presented with a letter by the Tongan PM Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa granting him the authority to exercise and enhance bilateral relations in areas of mutual interest between France and Tonga.

Moala who studied in Vanuatu and France is fluent in French, English, Bislama and Tongan.

He is currently the Contract Manager for the Tonga Climate Resilient Transport Project implemented by the Ministry of Infrastructure.

In addition, he is a heavyweight judoka, winning silver and bronze medals at the Pacific Games in Samoa, in July.

Sebastien Vahaamahina retires from France just 24 hours after his red card against Wales

The France lock received a red card from referee Jaco Peyper, following a TMO review, for elbowing Aaron Wainwright in the face when France were leading 19-10 in early stages of the second half. Wales subsequently fought back to win 20-19.

And while Vahaamahina has come in for heavy criticism for his role in France’s defeat, some media outlets in France are reporting that the lock had decided before the World Cup that he would retire following the tournament, regardless of how far France advanced.

Tonga lament slow start against France

The 'Ikale Tahi were pipped 23-21 in Kumamoto last night, having trailed 17-0 just before half-time.

Tonga also gave Argentina a 28-point headstart last week and coach Toutai Kefu was at a loss to explain their sluggish beginnings.

"I don't know, it's a good question. The coaches talked about it straight away post-game - maybe we warm up for too long (laughing), I don't know. It's something we need to look at. I think it's probably just the mental thing because, as you can see, we finish a game really well so definitely an issue for us," Toutai Kefu said.

Ireland knock off Wales, France thrash Italy

The Irish, beaten 57-15 by England, won in Cardiff for the first time since August 2015 after scoring three tries in the Rugby World Cup warm-up match, two for Jacob Stockdale and a penalty try bringing Wales' 11-game home winning streak stretching back to November 2017 to an end.

 The two teams meet again next Saturday in Dublin and the defeat will rankle more with Gatland as he remains bitter about the manner in which he was dismissed as head coach by the Irish in 2001.

"It was massive for us," man of the match Jack Carty told Channel 4.

Brunel still unsure of final France squad for Rugby World Cup

Brunel initially named a young group of 31 plus six reserves on June 18, more than three months before the start of the tournament in Japan, leaving out Mathieu Bastareaud and Morgan Parra entirely.

But having since worked with the extended squad of 37 and made various changes for injuries, while beating Scotland at home and losing away in back-to-back warm-up matches, Brunel is still pondering his options.

Les Bleus host Italy on Friday in their final match before heading to Japan, where they begin their campaign with a tricky test against Argentina on September 21.

Another All Black off to France

The club has announced that the 28-year-old has signed a three-year deal.

Whitelock has played sevens Tests for the All Blacks.

Highlanders teammate and All Black outside back Ben Smith announced in December that he has heading to Pau at the end of the year.

Pau are coached by Simon Mannix and the club has a number of New Zealanders playing including Jamie McIntosh, Peter Saili, Colin Slade and Tom Taylor.

They are currently 11th in the Top 14 championship.

     

Ireland keep title hopes alive after demolishing France

After misfiring in an opening loss to England, and stuttering wins over Italy and Scotland, the defending champions completely overwhelmed the French, with tries from Rory Best, Johnny Sexton and Jack Conan opening up a 19-0 halftime lead.   

The bonus point was secured just before the hour, when Keith Earls's 30th international try made him Ireland's joint second-highest tryscorer.

The winning margin would likely have been a record over France, were it not for late tries from Yoann Huget and Camille Chat.   

Milner-Skudder bids 'au-revoir' too

Toulon has confirmed that Milner-Skudder has signed a three year deal and will join them in June.

Milner-Skudder, 27, has played 13 Tests for New Zealand.

Since starring in the All Blacks' World Cup win in 2015, he's struggled with injuries.

The Hurricanes and Manawatu wing-fullback will join compatriots Julian Savea, Malakai Fekitoa and Liam Messam on Toulon's books.

Just when he joins Toulon exactly though depends on whether he makes the All Blacks world cup form, which based on current selections would seem unlikely.