Rugby World Cup: News in Brief – Thursday, September 24

Sam Cane - the fifth-youngest man ever to captain New Zealand
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RWU HQ – When Scotland’s Finn Russell scored his late, late try against Japan on Wednesday, he continued a quaint Rugby World Cup tradition that has been going since 1999. This, and other news – including disciplinary issues for Argentina and Wales – feature in Rugby Wrap Up’s latest news from the big rugby tournament in England.


Puma banned for nine weeks

Nine-week ban: Mariano Galarza
Nine-week ban: Mariano Galarza

Argentina’s Mariano Galarza is set to miss the rest of the World Cup after picking up a nine-week ban for making contact “with the eye or eye area” of New Zealand’s Brodie Retallick during the World Cup encounter on Sunday.

The Gloucester lock has 48 hours to appeal against the ruling. The punishment was reduced from 13 weeks after the judicial officer considered Galarza’s “excellent disciplinary record”.

If his ban stands, Galarza will miss the start of the English Premiership season, as he will not be eligible to play until 26 November.


Wales warning

Speaking of all things disciplinary, Wales have been slapped with an official warning for a breach of training rules.

The warning was issued after a group of players – said to include Nicky Smith, Rob Evans, Rhys Patchell, Jordan Williams, Dan Baker, Kristian Dacey, Dan Fish and Aled Summerhill – were reportedly involved in the session at London Irish’s Sunbury ground on Wednesday, contrary to the rules which state that back-up players not in the ‘World Cup 31’ are not allowed to participate in training sessions.

Warren 'I Dunno' Gatland
Warren ‘I Dunno’ Gatland

World Rugby said in a statement: “While World Rugby is satisfied that no deliberate breach was intended, an official warning has been issued to the WRU. All participating teams have been informed that additional players from the extended squad, including potential injury replacements, may not be included in any training sessions.”

The decision puzzled Wales coach Warren Gatland. As he revealed his squad for Saturday’s match against England he said: “”We haven’t broken any rules. Apparently we have broken the ‘spirit of the rules’. What that means we don’t know… I don’t know what we have done wrong.”


Cane able to lead much-changed All Blacks

Sam Cane, already regarded as heir apparent to King Richie’s number seven shirt, is set to captain New Zealand in their 80-minute training session against Namibia on Thursday.

Sam Cane - the fifth-youngest man ever to captain New Zealand
Sam Cane – the fifth-youngest man ever to captain New Zealand

Head coach Steve Hansen, has made 12 changes from the side that beat Pool C rivals Argentina on Sunday. Only wingers Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea remain, along with the lock Sam Whitelock in the starting XV.

Hansen told “It is a very special moment for Sam. He is in our leadership group, is hugely respected by everyone, is a fierce and fearless player and is someone who has the potential of being a long-term captain of the All Blacks in the future.”

Aged 23, Cane becomes the fifth youngest player to captain the All Blacks. The youngest was Herbie Lilburne, who was 21 years, three months and 27 days old when he led New Zealand against the 1930 Lions.

Ford ditched as England lose subtlety

'Big' Sam Burgess lines up with 'Burly' Brad Barritt in midfield for England
‘Big’ Sam Burgess lines up with ‘Burly’ Brad Barritt in midfield for England

As has been expected, England have dropped fly-half George Ford for their World Cup Pool A match against Wales at Twickenham – even though he did not put a foot wrong in the tournament opener against Fiji.

Owen Farrell replaces the Bath playmaker, while Sam Burgess is set to make his first start alongside Brad Barritt in a redesigned midfield prompted by an injury to the dangerous Jonathan Joseph.

Ford’s replacement appears purely tactical, while the call-up of the hard-tackling Burgess at 12 as Barritt moves to 13 suggests England expect a brutal midfield war. The final change to the starting XV sees Billy Vunipola come in at number eight after Ben Morgan failed to recover from a knee problem.


South Africa go back to basics

Coach Heyneke Meyer has insisted that South Africa can still win the World Cup, despite their shock defeat to Japan on the opening weekend.

Announcing eight changes to the side for the match against Samoa at Villa Park, Birmingham, Meyer said: “Whenever we are physical and play our style of rugby, nobody in the world can beat us. That’s what I try to get through to the players. We have to be leaders in our own field.

“We’ve won two World Cups and we can still win this one if we play South African rugby.”

The 33-year-old Fourie du Preez will make his first start at any level since February, and will team up with 21-year-old Handre Pollard

Adriaan Strauss, meanwhile, will win his 50th cap – but has refused to run out alone at the head of his side to mark the occasion. He replaces Bismarck du Plessis, who has dropped out of the squad altogether.


Finn continues birthday tradition

Birthday try for Finn Russell
A birthday try for Finn Russell

Scotland’s Finn Russell continued a Rugby World Cup tradition that started in 1999 when he touched down against Japan on Wednesday.

It was his birthday – and a birthday boy has scored a try at every World Cup since All Black Jeff Wilson became the first to do so 16 years ago. In Australia in 2003, three birthday boys scored – Italy’s Manuel Dallan, Tevita Tu’ifua of Tonga, and Romanian Gheorge Chiriac.

Wallaby Chris Latham kept the tradition alive in 2007, and Ireland’s Keith Earls followed suit in 2011. Now Russell has done it, too…

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About James Harrington 196 Articles
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!"