Rugby World Cup News: The Madness of Ioan Gruffud

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RWU HQ – How a Hollywood star reacted to Wales Rugby World Cup victory over England. When you’ve seen it, guess who he was supporting. Plus, Ma’a Nonu joins an exclusive All Blacks club, the official verdict on ‘the bite’ during USA Eagles’ match against South Africa, and Jacques Burger’s international rugby farewell. These, and other news snippets from England 2015…

100-up for Nonu

New Zealand centre Ma’a Nonu will win his 100th cap against Tonga on Friday.

The 33-year-old has been one of the most recognisable members of the All Blacks since he established himself in the team in 2008 and already holds the record of most starts in the number 12 jersey (75 caps).

He joins Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Dan Carter and Mils Muliaina in an exclusive New Zealand 100-club.

Nonu, who missed the win over Georgia with a shoulder injury, will start alongside Conrad Smith for the 59th time in international rugby, extending the duo’s world record for a starting centre combination.

Number eight Kieran Read will captain the side against Tonga in the absence of Richie McCaw, who misses the game with a hip injury.

 

Manchester hosts the greatest rugby show on Earth

England coach Stuart Lancaster has predicted a thrilling weekend of rugby in Manchester this weekend.

But it’s unlikely to be at the City of Manchester Stadium. His England side may be planning an exhibition as they bid the World Cup farewell against Uruguay, but the game that was supposed to be a celebration has – thanks to Wales and Australia– become a bit of a damp squib.

Meanwhile, a mere four miles away at Old Trafford, is the rather more thrilling prospect of English rugby league’s Super League final between Wigan and Leeds.

Tickets for the Super League final have sold out, while a category A ticket at the England game, which were selling for £260 each last Saturday, are now listed at £59 (and falling)…

 

Tuilagi appeals against five-week ban

Samoa’s Alesana Tuilagi has launched an appeal against his five-week ban for an act of foul play.

The 34-year-old Newcastle Falcons star – who is due to retire from international rugby after the World Cup – was handed the ban after he struck Japan’s Harumichi Tatekawa with his knee in the second minute of Samoa’s Pool B defeat.

The judicial officer ruled Tuilagi’s action as an “inherently dangerous act” and a clear act of “foul play” but former players including Lewis Moody and Ben Kay have questioned the severity of the ban, with the hashtag #FreeAlesana spreading in rugby circles on Twitter.

Davies said in his written judgement that Tuilagi “raised his knee to a height that was totally unnecessary” and did not apportion any blame on the tackling of Tatekawa.

He also said that Tuilagi “did not intend to cause injury, but unfortunately his actions did”.

Moody wrote on his Twitter account: “I’m appalled alesana has been banned for 5 weeks. How is running into an opponent an act of foul play. Should we play walking rugby now!!!”

Ben Kay added his opinion in a tweet: “I’m all for making our collision sport as safe as possible but REALLY? @WorldRugby Suggest you review this decision!” He then added: “#FreeAlesana.”

See what you think:

 

No bite during SA v USA

“No biting incident occurred” during Wednesday’s World Cup pool game between South Africa and USA, World Rugby has said.

bitingSocial media was buzzing with claims that South African player bit an American player during the game, which the Springboks won 64-0 to book their place in the quarter-finals.

But World Rugby said in a statement: “Independent citing commissioner Peter Larter [England] is satisfied that no biting incident occurred during the Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool B match between South Africa and USA.

“Larter’s determination follows a detailed review of all video footage, an absence of a team referral and proactive dismissal by the USA team of claims made via social media that a South Africa player bit a USA player during the match. This matter highlights the need to exercise caution in respect of claims based on two-dimensional still images.”

 

Bad news for Japan?

Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg, John Hardie, Sean Maitland and Ross Ford have recovered from injury to start for Scotland against Samoa.

Hooker Ford had been a major doubt with a head knock picked up during the defeat to South Africa, but his recovery has allowed coach Vern Cotter to pick a strong side for the must-win match.

Centre Mark Bennett also returns to a side showing seven changes.

A victory at Newcastle’s St James’ Park on Saturday would secure Scotland a place in the quarter-finals – at the expense of Japan, regardless of the result of their match on Sunday against USA.

 

The madness of Ioan Gruffud

Seconds earlier, Wales had knocked England out of the World Cup. Then, at Forever star Ioan Gruffud’s Hollywood home, this happened

MY HUSBAND LOSES HIS MIND IN HIS UNDERWEAR. MUST WATCH. @ioangruffudd #englandvswales #rwc2015 #ioangruffudd #loony

A video posted by Alice Evans (@aliceevansgruff) on

And, his wife revealed, he only went and burned the fries, too…

Burgess ‘wants England’s 6 shirt in Japan’

England’s Sam Burgess is not about to take his ball back to rugby league, his club coach Mike Ford has said.

The centre has been the subject of criticism and rumour following England’s early exit from the World Cup – including speculation that he might return to the 13-man game.

Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess

But his boss at Bath insists that the cross-code player is in union to stay, and said: “The last conversation I had with him he was going to extend his contract with us and he wanted to go for the next World Cup. He is going to play for us for the next few years. He loves rugby union, he is settled in Bath and he knows he is a six.”

When Burgess returns to club rugby, he will face a strong early test of his flanker credentials, as Bath’s fixture list features Toulon, Leinster, Leicester, Northampton and Wasps.

Ford said: “”If he can play six in those games, against the best in Europe, I am sure England will have a look at him in that role… He is a back row, not a centre.”

 

North switches to midfield for Australia clash

Wales winger George North

George North

Wales winger George North has moved to outside centre as Wales look for their first win over Australia in 10 matches in their Pool A decider at Twickenham on Saturday.

Gareth Anscombe comes in at full-back and fit-again Liam Williams returns on the wing, with North taking over from Tyler Morgan in a position where he has so far failed to convince.

There are four changes up front, where Justin Tipuric starts at openside and Luke Charteris at lock. Props Paul James and Samson Lee come in as Gethin Jenkins, Dan Lydiate and Bradley Davies all drop out of the 23.

Meanwhile, fullback Israel Folau passed a late fitness test to be named in Australia’s starting line-up. Coach Michael Cheika has made three changes to the starting line-up that beat England 33-13. Sean McMahon steps in for the suspended Michael Hooper and Drew Mitchell replaces the injured Rob Horne on the left wing. Dean Mumm takes over from Rob Simmons in the second row.

 

Burger calls time on international career

So long, Jacques, and thanks for all the hits...

So long, Jacques, and thanks for all the hits…

Jacques Burger has announced his retirement from international rugby after suffering a concussion 10 minutes into Namibia’s World Cup match against Georgia.

The African nation’s captain was helped off the pitch after receiving treatment for five minutes at Exeter’s Sandy Park.

After the match, Burger was confident that he be involved in Namibia’s final match against Argentina on Sunday. “I am not used to playing 10 minutes of a game,” he told reporters at a post-match press conference. But the 32-year-old has since declared on Twitter that he has played his last international game.

It was confirmed on Thursday that he had suffered a concussion nine minutes into the match against Georgia and will not be able to play against the Pumas.

Burger featured in three World Cups during nine-year 36-cap Test career for Namibia. On Wednesday, he equalled Hugo Horn’s 11 Rugby World Cup appearances for his country.

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James Harrington... Before injury brought his rugby career to a timely end, journalist James was equally useless whether he packed down in the second row or at number 8, positions in which he represented his school and university with indistinction. The prolific one now lives in France with his journalist wife and three children and watches as much Top 14, European and international action he thinks he can get away with; justifying his obsession by claiming: "But it's all work, Honey!"

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