Rugby World Cup

Tonga v England match to pay respect to Pohiva

Mr Pohiva, who died last Thursday in Auckland, was President of the Tonga Rugby Union at the time of his passing.

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper offered his condolences to the 'Ikale Tahi team during Tonga's official welcome ceremony in Sapporo on Thursday, just hours after Mr Pohiva's state funeral was held in Nuku'alofa.

"Clearly he will be very sadly missed...there will be a moment's silence before your game on Sunday against England and both myself and the President of World Rugby (Sir Bill Beaumont) will be present to pay our respects."

Flying Fijian Radradra moves to the wing

The Flying Fijians played a trump card in announcing their team for Saturday's match in Sapporo by shifting the explosive Radradra to the left wing.

It's the same position where the former rugby league star was a five-season NRL sensation for Parramatta, scoring 82 tries in 94 games until 2017.

All of the 27-year-old's Test rugby appearances have been at outside centre and he has been primarily used there at French club Bordeaux.

Family first for Kuridranis at Rugby World Cup

Father Inosi, older sister Bulou and younger brother Samuela have travelled from Fiji to Japan to support Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani, who was born in Suva but has gone on to earn 60 test caps since his debut for Australia in 2013.

Inosi said he was extremely proud of what his son had achieved in his career and would be putting family above country on Saturday afternoon in Sapporo.

"The family needs to support Australia to win, especially if my son is playing for Australia," he said.

Tonga fly-half James Faiva proves combine initiative can yield rich harvest

The countries meet in their opening Pool C match in Sapporo on Sunday and the presence of Faiva is testament to the talent identification "combines" run by World Rugby to help improve the strength in depth of Tier 2 nations.

Faiva (pictured above) impressed in a World Rugby-funded Pacific Islands Combine in Fiji that featured young talent from across the region, earning himself a contract in New Zealand's Mitre 10 competition.

'Manu lives less than 100 metres from me and can be a nuisance sometimes'

The Tonga full-back struck up a close relationship with Tuilagi after suffering a foot injury that resulted in eight months of treatment but it has healed in time for him to take part in the World Cup in Japan.

It was during his rehabilitation that he tapped into the experience of Tuilagi, who has finally been restored to full fitness following a sickening run of injuries spanning four years.

Tonga's main three threats to England in Sunday's World Cup opener

The England players will be well aware of some of the more potent players in the Tonga side when they meet in Sapporo, with a number of them playing alongside one another in the Gallagher Premiership on a week-in, week-out basis.

There are also some fresher faces in the forms of Vunipola Fifita of the Brumbies or New Zealand club rugby hooker Siua Maile, but if Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu has any chance of springing a remarkable upset – or at least pushing England closer than many expect – he will need to lean heavily on three of his star performers.

Japan name side for Rugby World Cup opener

Despite losing heavily in their final World Cup warm-up match against South Africa in Kumagaya a week-and-a-half ago, the Brave Blossoms impressed in many aspects during the 41-7 defeat.

However, even with a strong showing in the second half, Joseph has rung the changes for the first match of his side’s home tournament.

Blindside flanker Michael Leitch will become the second player to captain Japan at two World Cups, following in the footsteps of former loose forward Takuro Miuchi.

Samoa cover tattoos at Rugby World Cup as sign of respect for Japan

But the cover up will only go so far, it has been revealed.

The Samoan players will wear skin suits after the team consulted a Japanese cultural expert.

Captain Jack Lam said: “We had someone coming in and giving us a heads-up about what we could expect in Japan.

“There’s a lot of similarities in our cultures but when it comes to the tattoos we have obviously got a lot of tattoos, it’s quite normal in our culture.

“But we are respectful and mindful to what the Japanese way is. We will be making sure that what we are showing will be OK.”

Adam Coleman's poignant tribute to his late father Pau'u Afeaki, the former Tongan skipper

The Hobart-born Wallaby has played 34 times under Michael Cheika since getting his first cap in 2016 and with the 27-year-old now set for a money-spinning move to London Irish in the English Premiership, he expressed his gratitude for his family in helping him enjoy the career that he has.  

Gigantic rugby ball breaks world record with its size ahead of Rugby World Cup

The giant ball was introduced to a gathered crowd in South Molton before a large crew carried it to a kicking tee.

The ball measures in at 5.98 metres in length with a diameter of 3.70 metres and was made to official rugby specifications, meaning it could be played with - in theory.

Guinness World Records attended the unveiling and confirmed it to officially be the world’s largest rugby ball, beating the previous record held by the one used to promote the Hong Kong Sevens tournament in 2011.