Rugby World Cup

Georgia 'have the players and the power to upset any team in the world'

The Dark Blues round off their warm-up schedule against the Lelos at Murrayfield on Friday night before jetting out for Japan first thing on Monday morning.

Having beaten France at home and then thumped the Georgians in Tbilisi last week, Townsend is desperate to keep the Scots’ momentum building ahead of their tournament opener with Ireland on September 22.

Ngani Laumape breaks silence after missing out on All Blacks Rugby World Cup selection

Laumape failed to make the four-man midfield chosen by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen last month, which includes two-time World Cup winner Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown.

Despite 108-cap veteran Owen Franks also missing out on the squad, the reaction to Laumape’s omission caused arguably the biggest stir on social media.

The Hurricanes centre hasn’t spoken to media since the squad announcement but has since posted to his Instagram.

Wilkinson backs England for World Cup glory

The former England fly-half believes the class of 2019 boasts a back line full of rare-breed talents that can strike fear into opponents in Japan. England will launch their World Cup bid against Tonga on September 22, with former Newcastle and Toulon fly-half Wilkinson backing Jones’ men to peak at the right time.

“The momentum is rolling, they are peaking,” Wilkinson said. “I’d definitely like to think they can win it. What’s impressed me most is that every time they get a chance to regroup they always come back stronger.

Former Māori All Black Blade Thomson named in Scotland's Rugby World Cup squad

Forwards Josh Strauss, Matt Fagerson and Magnus Bradbury all missed out but NZ-born Thomson was selected due to his ability to slot into the second row if necessary.

Thomson, who made six appearances for the Māori All Blacks between 2013 and 2015, left the Hurricanes in 2018 to play for Welsh club Scarlets in the Pro14 competition.

Nasi Manu's return for Tonga after cancer battle shows his ‘character’, ex-teammate Aaron Smith says

Smith, who played alongside Manu at the Highlanders until the former co-captain left in 2016 to play in Europe, says Manu's journey from diagnosis in October last year to a recovery and naming in the 'Ikale Tahi squad shows his strength of heart and mind.

"It just shows the character of the man," Smith said.

"He's a great guy on and off the field, great leader and great friend.

'Ikale Tahi bolter 'a player of the future'

Christchurch-based hooker Siua Maile has been selected at the expense of veteran Elvis Taione, despite no previous involvement with the national team.

The former flanker was named in the Canterbury wider training group earlier this year and Kefu admitted his selection was more about the future than the upcoming tournament in Japan.

Wallabies centurion Sekope Kepu to retire from international rugby after RWC

The 33-year-old Kepu, who last year became the first prop to play 100 Tests for Australia, announced on Monday his plans to step down from international rugby.

It brings to an end his ties to Australian rugby after quitting the NSW Waratahs to play with UK club London Irish after the global tournament in Japan, which starts later this month.

Kepu is set to farewell fans at the Wallabies' final World Cup warm-up game, against Samoa at Sydney's Bankwest Stadium on Saturday.

Tonga coach focussed on beating Fiji as part of RWC prep

Tonga play Fiji as part of the Pasifika Challenge with the New Zealand Heartland XV meeting Samoa in the early game.

The Kingdom have only won 27 of their previous 91 match-ups against the Flying Fijians but prevailed when the teams last met in Lautoka 14 months ago.

Toutai Kefu said he is fine-tuning his squad heading into the World Cup but are not looking too far ahead.

"We have a squad of 33 at the moment so we need to drop two players out of the squad, one forward and one back but in terms of this game we want to win.

Owen Franks breaks silence over World Cup axing

The 108-test, dual World Cup-winning veteran was the biggest name left out of Steve Hansen’s 31-man squad, which was announced at Eden Park in Auckland on Wednesday.

Hansen and his fellow selectors – Ian Foster and Grant Fox – have instead opted for the likes of Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Angus Ta’avao, who they believe present a bigger ball-carrying threat than Franks.

All Blacks Rugby World Cup squad named

Hansen congratulated the players named in the squad and offered his commiseration's to those who missed out.

"Over the last couple of months we've spent a lot of time building our game, working on the individual skill sets we want and as selectors, taking the time to get really clear we wanted to put together from a selection point of view, for this team.