RWU HQ – Options behind the scrum look very thin for Wales, the Youtube tribute to Waisake Naholo, what scares Jacques Burger, something for conspiracy theorists – and other stories from the tournament in England that you may unnaccountably have missed…
Hook finally gets Wales call-up as injuries strike
Wales boss Warren Gatland finally had no option but to call up coach-imposed exile James Hook after yet more injuries struck his side.
The 72-cap Hook – who can play fly-half, centre, or fullback – has been called up after Scott Williams and Hallam Amos were ruled out of the rest of the Rugby World Cup following the England game. He will be on the bench for Thursday’s match against Fiji.
Matthew Morgan starts at fullback, with Alex Cuthbert on the wing and Tyler Morgan at outside centre.
With Hook and Gareth Anscombe joining the squad, scrum-half Rhys Patchell is the only fit Welsh back left on Gatland’s standby roster who attended Wales’s summer training camps in Switzerland and Qatar.
Fifty-up for Faletau
Speaking of the Welsh team, Taulupe Faletau is set to win his 50th cap against Fiji on Thursday.
A half-century of international caps is an impressive feat for any player, but consider this – the Dragons’ roaring flanker has played in 49 of Wales’s last 57 Tests.
Enjoy your solo run-out on to the Millennium Stadium pitch, big man.
Waisake Naholo Army
Much, much, MUCH better than this…
Easter in for Vunipola
Harlequins’ Nick Easter has been called into the England squad, after Billy Vunipola was ruled out of the rest of the campaign with a knee ligament strain.
The 37-year-old, who picked up the last of his 52 international caps in the epic win over France in the RBS 6 Nations earlier this year, could even start the must-win game against Australia, with Ben Morgan still struggling with a knee injury of his own.
Lock Courtney Lawes is also a doubt for Saturday’s game with a knee injury.
Palu injury prompts Aussie Hooker u-turn
Australian number 8 Wycliff Palu has been forced to call time on his 57-Test career after injury ended his World Cup.
It was half of a double injury blow for the Wallabies, with lock Will Skelton also ruled out of the tournament days before their match against England.
Skelton left the field holding his arm early in the second half in the Wallabies’ 11-try win over Uruguay on Sunday, while Palu had suffered a “problematic” hamstring injury, coach Michael Cheika said after that match.
While Skelton will be replaced by fellow second-row Sam Carter, coach Cheika has called up hooker James Hanson as a replacement for Palu, completing what appears to be a quiet u-turn on his earlier controversial decision to pick only two specialist hookers.
Jacques Burger IS Indiana Jones
After watching Namibia’s Jacques Burger willingly throw himself time and again into an unstoppable All Black wall, you may find it hard to believe that something actually does frighten him.
“I’m not afraid of anything on the pitch,” Burger told journalists after the New Zealand game.
But then he added: “But I am afraid of things off the pitch, I promise you that. Snakes, for instance. I don’t like snakes very much…”
We’re not conspiracy theorists, but…
When New Zealand arrived at their Cardiff hotel for Friday’s match against Georgia on Saturday afternoon, they did not know that their digs for the week were right next to the RWC Fanzone in the city.
They found out soon enough, as gleeful chants of “Wales, Wales, Wales” following THAT win over England kept many of them awake long into the night.
Unfortunately for King Richie and co, the night before the next All Blacks’ game could be another long and noisy one one – as that’s when Wales play Fiji. If Warren Gatland’s men win, expect plenty of dancing in the Cardiff streets around the RWC fanzone ALL night long.
Number of the week: 89,267
That’s the new world record crowd for an international rugby match – set at Wembley at the weekend weekend when Ireland beat Romania. According to tournament organisers, the average crowd at the 2015 Rugby World Cup after 19 matches is an impressive 51,201.
Between them, the 972,821 fans who have gone through the turnstiles so far have enjoyed 110 tries, 93 penalties and 76 conversions – but just two drop goals.
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