Rugby World Cup

Tonga’s PM expresses gratitude to Ikale Tahi

He released a statement expressing his appreciation to the players.

“It is with utmost respect, on behalf of His Majesty King Tupou VI, the government and the people of Tonga, to convey herein our hearty congratulations, deep love and appreciation, to the coach, captain and respective member of the Ikale Tahi team for their overwhelming diligent and divinely empowered triumph at their recent Rugby World Cup game versus United States.”

“It is indeed a personification of national pride and solidarity and inspiration for the generation of today and tomorrow.”

Christian Lealiifano not certain he can manage three games in a row

Cancer survivor Lealiifano said it’s “hard to say” if he is ready for that sort of load after having been carefully managed through the pool phase of the tournament.

Coach Michael Cheika this week indicated the 32-year-old had the inside running to take the problematic playmaking role in Saturday’s quarter-final against England in Oita.

Cheika indicated Lealiifano hadn’t played there more because of the need to cater for his wellbeing.

England appear to get Vunipola boost

In a major lift to Eddie Jones’ men, the powerful Saracens No8 is on course to recover from the ankle injury that forced him off at half-time against Argentina last Saturday week.

Jones names his team to face the Wallabies on Thursday and Vunipola, the only player to have started all 12 of England’s Tests this year, will be an automatic selection if fit.

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

Sam Matavesi in social media plea after his Fijian World Cup kit is stolen in London car park theft

The hooker, who plays for Cornish Pirates in the English Championship, started for the Fijians in their matches versus Australia, Georgia and Wales and came off the bench in their other pool game versus Uruguay at the finals in Japan. 

It capped an incredible year so far for Matavesi, who also featured for Toulouse this year as a short-term medical cover signing towards the end of the Top 14 season. 

However, the 27-year-old has now taken to social media in the hope that some treasured possessions collected in Japan can be returned to him. 

Lealiifano looking likely to be the Wallabies' No.10 against England

Cheika has been criticised for failing to select the same player in the No.10 in successive matches since Lealiifano started both Bledisloe Cup Tests in August.

The position has taken on an experimental feel in Japan, with Bernard Foley handed a start against Wales and Matt To'omua against Georgia.

Lealiifano started the first and third games, against Fiji and Uruguay, and while not entirely convincing, he appears set to run the show against England on Saturday.

Bundee Aki handed three week ban

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tongans send Piutau off in style with win over USA

Piutau, who was celebrating his 34th birthday in his 43rd and final test at his third World Cup, scored a try and kicked the last conversion at Hanazono Rugby Stadium as the Tongans finished off their tournament in style.

Tongan prop Siegfried Fisi'ihoi opened the scoring and centre Malietoa Hingano crossed to give the Pacific islanders the lead around the hour mark, with fullback Telusa Veainu adding the fourth try after the final gong.

RWC Quarterfinals have been confirmed

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

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

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

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

     

Laid-back Kefu credited for Tonga’s rapid improvement

The Pacific Islanders have lost to England, Argentina and France at Rugby World Cup 2019 and need to beat the United States in Hanazono on Sunday to avoid finishing bottom of Pool C.

Coach Kefu, pictured above, a World Cup winner with Australia in 1999, had stated that a pass mark would be coming third and, with it, guaranteeing a place at RWC 2023 in France, but Alatini, one of his assistants in Japan, has still been mightily impressed.