France name team as New Zealand worry over injuries plus latest England updates

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The first match of the highly anticipated Rugby World Cup is almost upon us and will see hosts France take on New Zealand at the Stade de France in Paris on Friday night.

Just days before the start of the tournament, preparations are underway from all the different camps with Steve Borthwick’s England rugby squad situated in Le Touquet. “We’ve found a town in France that really likes English people, which is quite unique,” joked the head coach earlier this week.

The players and management have presented a happy and relaxed front since arriving in France and have all spoken about their pride and excitement of being at the Rugby World Cup but England arrive here with little form and momentum due to injuries, suspensions, and three warm-up defeats.

They will no doubt address these concerns when talking to the media this morning and give some insight into the camp ahead of the start of the tournament before representatives from Scotland, Ireland and Wales do the same throughout the day.

Follow along for all the latest Rugby World Cup updates:

Rugby World Cup latest news

  • France name team to face New Zealand in World Cup opener

  • Tom Curry to start England’s World Cup opener against Argentina

  • England expect to be fully fit for World Cup opener after Courtney Lawes fears

  • Fiji fly-half Caleb Muntz has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup

How Scotland can overcome cruel luck to thrive at Rugby World Cup

13:03 , Mike Jones

Pessimism can sometimes seem to come a little too naturally to Scottish rugby fans, a certain fatalism worn almost as a badge of honour after too many days of disappointment and dejection, of squandered opportunities and wondering what might have been.

It perhaps feels somewhat appropriate, then, for Gregor Townsend to have assembled perhaps the finest side in the nation’s long rugby history and still know a second successive World Cup pool stage effort is on the cards if the tournament goes to form. Plenty has already been written about the lopsided draw but it feels particularly cruel to the Scots, inarguably among the top five sides in the world but drawn together with two of the four top favourites in the pool.

Townsend’s band of history makers have risen to new heights over these last four years, turning Calcutta Cup hope almost into expectation and building further through these last few months. Top to bottom, the likely 23 that will begin the tournament against South Africa in Marseille contains few clear weaknesses.

How Scotland can overcome cruel luck to create World Cup history

Rugby World Cup 2023: Felipe Contepomi expecting ‘very difficult’ encounter with England

12:56 , Mike Jones

Argentina assistant coach Felipe Contepomi expects England to be ready for their World Cup opener against the Pumas.

The 2019 runners-up have endured a difficult build up to the tournament, with injury and discipline issues adding to a strign of uneven warm-up performance on the pitch.

Contepomi, who captained Argentina at the 2011 tournament, nonethless expects England to be at their best come Saturday as the two sides prepare to kick off their campaigns in Marseille.

“England is the ‘big team’ in the group. They say they are ready for the Rugby World Cup and we expect a very tough match,” Contepomi said.

“You can analyse each rival thoroughly, but you also have to take into consideration what you can do. So you have to concentrate on everything you’ve been working on. It’s about us and doing our game in the best way possible.

“They are the strongest team in our group, if someone wants to call us favourites, it’s up to them. I don’t read the press much and I don’t use social media, so I don’t know what’s being said. But what I can tell you is that we are focused on what we have to do and that we know the power that England have.

“They’ve said they are prepared for the Rugby World Cup, so we expect a very complicated and very difficult match, very physical and strategic, the first match of the Rugby World Cup. But we are very focused on what we know how to do and want to do.”

Wales squad fit and firing

12:49 , Mike Jones

Wales boss Warren Gatland has reported a clean bill of health among his World Cup squad heading into their tournament opener against Fiji.

Co-captain Dewi Lake and No. 8 Taulupe Faletau were among a handful of players who nursed injuries during Wales’ World Cup warm-ups with Faletau playing no part in those fixtures due to a calf muscle problem.

“The last couple of weeks we’ve had a few niggles – we had eight or 10 players not taking a full part in training,” Gatland said. “Nothing serious, but just a few bumps. They’ve all been rehabbed and everyone is now fit, which is a positive place for us to be in.

“He (Faletau) has been taking a full part in training for the past three weeks. There is no doubt in the first week he was blowing pretty hard in terms of some of the set-piece stuff the boys have been doing for a number of weeks.

“That has taken a little bit of time, but we’ve kept a close eye on his GPS figures and they have been excellent for him. Even though he hasn’t been running around, he has done a lot of off-feet conditioning. Some of the work on the side of the pitch is harder than being on the pitch, and he is definitely in contention for the weekend.”

‘It’s an honour and a priviledge’ says Wales’ Dillon Lewis

12:43 , Mike Jones

There was a press conference earlier this morning for the Wales team and Dillon Lewis spoke about what it is like returning to the World Cup after featuring in the last edition in Japan.

“It’s always an honour and privilege to be selected.” he said, “It’s a massive weight off your shoulders but it’s the business end now. I’m excited for the game now. Their set-piece is probably a strength of theirs.

“Japan was a fantastic World Cup. I’m sure France will be the same. You see the crowds they get out here. The chance to travel across these fantastic places and then the most important bit is the rugby.”

New Zealand midfielder Jordie Barrett is in doubt for the World Cup opener against France

12:37 , Mike Jones

Jordie Barrett, who has proved a revelation at inside centre this season after shifting forward, had not trained this week in the lead up to Friday’s game at Stade de France, All Blacks assistant coach Scott Mcleod said.

“He’s had the night off and the day off today,” Mcleod told New Zealand media from training in Lyon.

“We’ll have to see how he wakes up tomorrow. He’ll have an assessment before (training) to see where he’s at, and we’ll go from there.”

The three-times world champions suffered their worst ever test defeat with the recent 35-7 drubbing by South Africa at Twickenham, having won all four previous tests in 2023.

Mcleod said the players were more switched on at camp after the Springboks setback.

“Their ears have been open a lot more, they’ve searched a lot deeper in terms of their execution and understanding of what they have to do, and they want to build to a level they want to play at,” he said.

“The legacy of the jersey means a great deal to the players, and they don’t want to let that down.

“From my knowledge of All Blacks teams, when they lose, they hurt a lot,” he added. “They don’t like losing and want to rectify it.

“That will be our motivation first and foremost, that’s what we’ve been building towards, and France just adds to that motivation in terms of being the host nation, and one of our great opponents.”

(Reuters, reporting by Ian Ransom)

France urged to drop lock convicted of racially motivated assault

12:31 , Mike Jones

France are facing calls to drop Bastien Chalureau just days before their home Rugby World Cup begins after the lock’s conviction for a racially motivated assault.

Chalureau was given a six-month suspended prison sentence in 2020 by a Toulouse court after assaulting two former players.

The 31-year-old, now of Montpellier, is appealing the conviction and denies the incident had any racial element.

Fabien Galthie had initially left him out of his 33-man squad for the tournament, but called up the second row after Paul Willemse’s injury last week.

But the France head coach’s decision to add Chalureau, who won his first international cap last November, to his squad has been criticised ahead of the tournament hosts’ opening game against New Zealand on Friday night.

France urged to drop lock convicted of racially motivated assault

Yoram Moefana to start at centre for France

12:24 , Mike Jones

Yoram Moefana will start at centre to make up for the absence of the injured Jonathan Danty, while flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert will pair up with Antoine Dupont for France’s World Cup opening match against New Zealand on Friday.

Les Bleus will also have to do without prop Cyril Baille and flyhalf Romain Ntamack, who are missing out on the tournament through injury.

“We’re getting into this match with the best France team,” head coach Fabien Galthie told a news conference on Wednesday.

Les Bleus, who are gunning for a maiden World Cup title, finished their preparations with a convincing 41-17 victory against Australia.


England expect to be fully fit for World Cup opener after Courtney Lawes fears

12:18 , Mike Jones

England expect to have a clean bill of health for their vital World Cup opener against Argentina on Saturday after downplaying concerns over Courtney Lawes’ fitness.

Lawes took part in the first training session held since the squad arrived at their tournament base in Le Touquet on Thursday, but the Lions flanker missed Saturday’s capping ceremony because of “soreness”.

Attack coach Richard Wigglesworth revealed that England’s likely captain against the Pumas in the absence of the suspended Owen Farrell sat out the function merely as a precautionary measure.

Wigglesworth also issued positive updates on Tom Curry, Kyle Sinckler, Elliot Daly and George Martin, all of whom are carrying knocks ahead of the Marseille opener on September 9.

“Courtney is a bit sore from training on Friday so we decided the best thing for him was to not sit in a chair for an hour or so then have to stand up,” Wigglesworth said.

“He is resting at the hotel. He is bit sore from training – the pitch was heavy because of the rain. Nothing too serious, we are just looking after him.

“We have a few little bumps and bruises like everyone has, but I think we will go into next weekend with a pretty full bill of health.”

England expect to be fully fit for World Cup opener after Courtney Lawes fears

Eddie Jones brings noise and unpredictability – but also gives Australia a proven route to success

12:12 , Mike Jones

Few would have expected a quiet ride to the World Cup when Australia rehired Eddie Jones in January, but even by his headline-a-minute standards, these last few months have felt particularly rich in debate and drama.

Call it the increasingly outdated approach of a populist pretender clinging to a final chance at glory, or the masterful manoeuvres of a veteran schemer successfully taking the attention off his struggling side, but since his return to Sydney as Dave Rennie’s replacement, Jones has most certainly played the hits.

There was the jettisoning from the most inexperienced Australia squad in recent memory of Michael Hooper, presumed skipper, and Quade Cooper. There was the talking up of uncapped flanker Josh Kemeny as a potential wing option. There was the eve-of-tournament departure of attack coach Brad Davis, which brought about the “worst press conference ever” (Jones, 2023), where Australia’s head coach told journalists to give themselves “uppercuts” in his final press engagement before departing for the World Cup.

Eddie Jones brings noise – but also gives Australia a proven route to success

Rugby World Cup stadiums: Which cities in France are hosting matches?

12:06 , Mike Jones

Stade de France, Paris


The French national stadium is one of only two arenas in the world (Yokohama Stadium) to have held both a football and rugby World Cup final, and hopes will be high that the host nation can replicate the achievement of their 1998 footballing counterparts and secure a World Cup crown on home soil. The problems fans encountered at last year’s Champions League final will worry organisers, though World Rugby are confident there will be no repeat.

The sixth largest stadium in Europe will host the athletics during Paris 2024.


France vs New Zealand, Pool A, Friday 8 September

Australia vs Georgia, Pool C, Saturday 9 September

South Africa vs Ireland, Pool B, Saturday 23 September

Ireland vs Scotland, Pool B, Saturday 7 October

Quarter Final 2 (Winner Pool B vs Runner-up Pool A), Saturday 14 October

Quarter-Final 4 (Winner Pool A vs Runner-up Pool B), Sunday 15 October

Semi-Final 1 (Winner QF1 vs Winner QF 2), Friday 20 October

Semi-Final 2 (Winner QF3 vs Winner QF 4), Saturday 21 October

Bronze Final, Friday 27 October

Final, Saturday 28 October

Rugby World Cup stadiums: Which cities in France are hosting matches?

12:02 , Mike Jones

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Capacity: 67,847

A regular haunt for the French national team when away from the Stade de France, the Marseille amphitheatre was also the venue for La Rochelle’s win over Leinster in last year’s Champions Cup final. The Stade Velodrome is scheduled to host two quarter finals, just as it did in 2007.


England vs Argentina, Pool D, Saturday 9 September

South Africa vs Scotland, Pool B, Sunday 10 September

France vs Namibia, Pool A, Thursday 21 September

South Africa vs Tonga, Pool B, Sunday 1 October

Quarter-Final 1 (Winner Pool C vs Runner-up Pool D), Saturday 14 October

Quarter-Final 3 (Winner Pool D vs Runner-up Pool C), Sunday 15 October

Rugby World Cup stadiums: Which cities in France are hosting matches?

11:58 , Mike Jones

OL Stadium, Lyon

Capacity: 58,883

Located in the Lyon suburb of Décines-Charpieu, the venue otherwise known as Groupama Stadium will host five tournament games. The brainchild of former Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas, the final of the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup was held at the venue. Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour will visit for two dates next June, while the stadium will also host the encounter between France and England on the final weekend of the 2024 Six Nations.


Wales vs Australia, Pool C, Sunday 24 September

Uruguay vs Namibia, Pool A, Wednesday 27 September

New Zealand vs Italy, Pool A, Friday 29 September

New Zealand vs Uruguay, Pool A, Thursday 5 October

France vs Italy, Pool A, Friday 6 October

Rugby World Cup stadiums: Which cities in France are hosting matches?

11:54 , Mike Jones

Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille

Capacity: 50,096

The impressive Stade Pierre-Mauroy, named after the former French prime minister and sponsored by sporting retail giants Decathlon, has established itself as the marquee arena in northern France. Located in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, which sits between Lille and Roubaix in a sprawling metropolis close to the border with Belgium, the stadium will host France’s Six Nations game against Italy next year with the Stade de France unavailable ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics


France vs Uruguay, Pool A, Thursday 14 September

England vs Chile, Pool D, Saturday 23 September

Scotland vs Romania, Pool B, Saturday 30 September

England vs Samoa, Pool D, Saturday 7 October

Tonga vs Romania, Pool B, Sunday 8 October

Rugby World Cup stadiums: Which cities in France are hosting matches?

11:50 , Mike Jones

Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse

Capacity: 33,150

The smallest of the nine venues, the Stadium de Toulouse is an occasional home of the city’s rugby side, the reigning French champions and provider of many of the national team’s best players. A third renovation was completed in 2016 to an arena first built for the 1938 Fifa World Cup.


Japan vs Chile, Pool D, Sunday 10 September

New Zealand vs Namibia, Pool A, Friday 15 September

Georgia vs Portgual, Pool C, Saturday 23 September.

Japan vs Samoa, Pool D, Thursday 28 September

Fiji vs Portugal, Pool C, Sunday 8 October

Rugby World Cup stadiums: Which cities in France are hosting matches?

11:46 , Mike Jones

Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes

Capacity: 35,520

Another returning venue from 2007, Ligue 1’s FC Nantes are the regular tenants of the Stade de la Beaujoire. It had been marked for demolition, with a proposed new build entitled YelloPark due to be built for this tournament and next year’s Paris Olympics, but the city council elected not to go ahead with the project. It was here in 2007 that Fiji stunned Wales to knock the Six Nations side out in the pool stages.


Ireland vs Tonga, Pool B, Saturday 16 September

Argentina vs Chile, Pool D, Saturday 30 September

Wales vs Georgia, Pool C, Saturday 7 October

Japan vs Argentina, Pool D, Sunday 8 October

Rugby World Cup stadiums: Which cities in France are hosting matches?

11:42 , Mike Jones

Stade de Nice, Nice

Capacity: 35,983

More commonly known as the Allianz Riviera, the World Cup marks a decade since the Nice venue was opened. Occasionally used by Toulon, the stadium is a few kilometres in-land from the hub of the Mediterranean hotspot, adjacent to the river Var. There is a museum of sports history on site for visitors to enjoy and the structure features a three-dimensional wooden frame that was the largest ever designed for a venue of this kind at the time of opening.


Wales vs Portugal, Pool C, Saturday 16 September

England vs Japan, Pool D, Sunday 17 September

Italy vs Uruguay, Pool A, Wednesday 20 September

Scotland vs Tonga, Pool B, Sunday 24 September

Rugby World Cup stadiums: Which cities in France are hosting matches?

11:38 , Mike Jones

Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne

Capacity: 41,965

Nicknamed “le Chaudron” (the Cauldron), or “l’enfer vert” (the Green Hell), AS Saint-Etienne’s home has been upgraded since hosting a handful of games during the 2007 tournament. English football fans may remember Stade Geoffroy-Guichard from their side’s 1998 Fifa World Cup exit on penalties to Argentina, while the stadium will celebrate a centenary year in 2031.


Italy vs Namibia, Pool A, Saturday 9 September

Australia vs Fiji, Pool C, Sunday 17 September

Argentina vs Samoa, Pool D, Friday 22 September

Australia vs Portugal, Pool C, Sunday 1 October

Rugby World Cup stadiums: Which cities in France are hosting matches?

11:34 , Mike Jones

Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux

Capacity: 42,060

Home to Bordeaux’s top football team, now in Ligue 2, this impressive arena was opened in 2015 and is sponsored by French insurance company Matmut. Nestled next to a nature reserve towards the north of the city on the banks of the Garonne, the stadium features quirky architecture and hosted five games during Euro 2016 – though is yet to hold an international game of rugby.


Ireland vs Romania, Pool B, Saturday 9 September

Wales vs Fiji, Pool C, Sunday 10 September

Samoa vs Chile, Pool D, Saturday 16 September

South Africa vs Romania, Pool B, Sunday 17 September

Fiji vs Georgia, Pool C, Saturday 30 September

France team to face New Zealand in World Cup opener

11:32 , Mike Jones

France head coach Fabien Galthie named the following team to face New Zealand in their Rugby World Cup Pool A match at the Stade de France on Friday:

15-Thomas Ramos, 14-Damian Penaud, 13-Gael Fickou, 12-Yoram Moefana, 11-Gabin Villiere, 10-Matthieu Jalibert, 9-Antoine Dupont (cap), 8-Gregory Alldritt, 7-Charles Ollivon, 6-Francois Cros, 5-Thibaud Flament, 4-Cameron Woki, 3-Uini Atonio, 2-Julien Marchand, 1-Reda Wardi

Replacements: 16-Peato Mauvaka, 17-Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18-Dorian Aldegheri, 19-Romain Taofifenua, 20-Paul Boudehent, 21-Maxime Lucu, 22-Arthur Vincent, 23-Melvyn Jamine

‘We’ve got to be better across the board’ says Sinfield

11:28 , Mike Jones

Kevin Sinfield has no doubt that Tom Curry will make an instant impact upon his return to the matchday squad against Argentina as England hope to put their defensive frailties behind them.

“We just miss Tom Curry the player,” said Sinfield. “He speaks very well, he tidies a lot of things up, he is an incredible athlete and he does things a lot of other players can’t do.

“Being a defence coach, people back home might see different things than I do, the nitty gritty stuff that is really important, that pulls teams together, Tom does every single day, in many, many different actions.

“Just to have him available, what it does and why we have seen a little lift in intensity this week would be around competition for places. You suddenly throw Tom back out there and he is in the mix and there are a couple of back rows looking over their shoulder and understanding they have got to raise their game.

“Throughout my experience of being a player the best teams I was involved in, was when there were some wonderful names getting left out of a team. It shows the strength of your squad and having Tom available means there is a good quality player who is going to be left out.

“We’ve just got to get better across the board. I won’t hide or shy away from that. We need to be better across the board in our defence. We missed too many tackles last time out and that’s something we’ve got to rectify. I’m firmly in there with the players. I’m accountable, I’m responsible.”

Rugby World Cup 2023: Security beefed up ahead of tournament start

11:22 , Mike Jones

France will deploy up to 7,000 security personnel across the country as part of measures to ensure safety during the Rugby World Cup, sports minister Amelie Oudea Castera said on Monday.

The World Cup starts with a much-awaited clash between France and New Zealand at Stade de France on Friday, but the situation around the venue will be heavily monitored well before the 9 p.m. kick-off.

“It will be an outstanding moment of sport, this Rugby World Cup is set to be exceptional as France organises it alone for the first time,” Oudea Castera told a press conference.

Between 5,500 and 7,000 security personnel would be mobilised, added Oudea Castera, who also promised smooth travel conditions for visiting fans at airports and train stations.

“We have recruited 600 agents in airports to make it easier to go though customs and also reinforced the staff in the train stations,” she added.


Farrell ‘made a mistake’ with high tackle on Taine Basham

11:15 , Mike Jones

England captain, Owen Farrell says he “made a mistake” with the dangerous tackle on Taine Basham that led to a red card against Wales last month and admitted he is gutted to be banned for the start of the Rugby World Cup.

Farrell will miss England’s tournament opener against Argentina on Saturday as well as their second match against Japan eight days later, having also been absent for the warm-up matches against Ireland and Fiji.

“I made a mistake and I got banned for it in the end,” said Farrell. “I am not going to sit here and moan about it now, I am excited for this World Cup to start, I am excited to see what this team can do and I look forward to being available again.

“I knew when it came on the big screen. It is what it is. I’ve been banned, I accept that I’ve been banned. I’m gutted not to be playing but I’m trying to do everything I can for this team.”

Despite England’s rocky build-up to the tournament Farrell insists everything can click into gear at the right in time.

“I have massive confidence in the group,” he said on Monday, “I know what the group is capable of. I know it is something that can turn pretty quickly.”

Lowest ranking for England before a World Cup

11:09 , Mike Jones

England’s troubled build-up to the World Cup is reflected in their descent to eighth in the last global rankings to be published before the tournament begins.

World Rugby has confirmed that Steve Borthwick’s side have fallen two places from sixth following their 30-22 defeat by Fiji in their final warm-up game – registering their joint lowest position in the standings’ 20-year history.

Fiji climbed from ninth to seventh on the back of their stunning victory at Twickenham while Argentina – England’s main pool rivals in France – are up one place to sixth.

What is the TMO Bunker and how will the foul play process work at the Rugby World Cup?

11:03 , Mike Jones

The 2023 Rugby World Cup will see a revamped foul play process in place, with the introduction of the “TMO bunker” system at the tournament for the first time.

The introduction follows a number of World Rugby trials during the course of the last year, including the Summer Nations Series and Rugby Championship.

The “bunker” system is designed to improve accuracy of decision making and avoid significant disruptions to the flow of games, and has already been utilised in a couple of high profile moments ahead of the World Cup.

What is the TMO Bunker and how will it work at the Rugby World Cup?

Tom Curry to start England’s World Cup opener against Argentina

10:56 , Mike Jones

Back-rower Tom Curry is set to go straight into England’s starting XV for their opening Rugby World Cup match against Argentina more than three months after his last outing.

Curry has yet to feature under head coach Steve Borthwick after missing the Six Nations with successive hamstring strains before suffering an ankle injury at the start of England’s series of World Cup warm-up matches.

Defence coach Kevin Sinfield says England have been given a clean bill of health heading into Saturday’s game against Argentina in Marseille and the return of Curry will act as a huge boost to their chances.

They have shipped 30 tries in nine games under Borthwick and the last match, a first ever defeat by Fiji, saw England miss 27 tackles.

When asked what was wrong in defence, Sinfield referenced Curry’s absence saying: “I think it really helps having Tom Curry back available,

“He’s got a number of caps under his belt now and he’s been doing it for years. He can play a number of positions across the back row for us too. Delighted he’s available.”

Rugby World Cup 2023: Fabien Galthie defends selection of Bastien Chalureau

10:48 , Mike Jones

Fabien Galthie has had to defend the selection of lock Bastien Chalureau after heavy criticism related to Chalureau’s 2020 conviction for a racially motivated assault.

The second row was called up last week after Paul Willemse’s injury, and has denied the incident had anything to do with race, but politicians in France have suggested that Galthie was wrong to pick him.

“We have said the same thing now for four years and we carry this mission with heart and commitment: we have to unite and share with French rugby and all French people,” the French head coach said.

“For four years, racism has had no place in our team, it has no place in rugby. Integrity is a fundamental value of our team and our sport. Bastien has informed us of this affair and firmly and formally denies the allegations.”

France World Cup lock Bastien Chalureau insists ‘I’m not racist’ despite conviction

10:42 , Mike Jones

France lock Bastien Chalureau has denied accusations he is racist during an emotional press conference following his controversial call-up for the Rugby World Cup.

The 31-year-old Montpellier player is appealing against a suspended six-month prison sentence for a racially-motivated attack in 2020.

Chalureau, who has six Test caps, was added to Les Bleus’ 33-man squad by head coach Fabien Galthie following the injury withdrawal of Paul Willemse.

France World Cup lock insists ‘I’m not racist’ despite conviction

Fiji fly-half Caleb Muntz has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup

10:36 , Mike Jones

Andrew Baldock, the PA’s Rugby Union Correspondent, says that Fiji fly-half, Caleb Muntz is out of the Rugby World Cup after picking up a knee injury.

Writing from Versailles, Baldock gave an update earlier this morning:

‘Fiji fly-half Caleb Muntz has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup due to injury.

‘The 23-year-old looked set to start Sunday’s Pool C clash against Wales in Bordeaux, but he suffered a knee injury during training on Monday and will miss the tournament.

‘Muntz played a key role in Fiji’s World Cup warm-up victory over England at Twickenham, kicking 15 points from three conversions and three penalties.

‘“Caleb sustained a knee injury in a non-contact session and is out of the Rugby World Cup,” Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui said on Fiji Rugby‘s website.

‘“It’s most devastating for us as a group and for Caleb. He has worked so hard for the past two years.”

‘Raiwalui added that replacement options for Muntz were being considered.’

Rugby World Cup 2023 talking points

10:31 , Mike Jones

Magnifique! France to triumph

Since the first World Cup in 1987, France have won 11 Five and Six Nations titles, including five Grand Slams, yet the biggest prize of all has eluded them.

World Cup finalists 36 years ago, then again in 1999 and 2011, they finished as runner-up each time. But if Les Bleus can cope with host nation expectation and pressure, something they failed to do when France last staged the tournament in 2007, then this could be their time.

They have the players – Antoine Dupont, Gregory Alldritt, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou and Charles Ollivon, to name just five – and coaching team to thrive. If France beat New Zealand in game one, then their momentum could prove unstoppable.

Rugby World Cup 2023 talking points

10:25 , Mike Jones

Warren Gatland back for more

Warren Gatland could not have imagined a year ago that he would be back as Wales head coach and preparing for a fourth World Cup.

His original 11-year stint in the job ended after the last tournament in Japan, but the Welsh Rugby Union turned to him following Wayne Pivac’s departure after a miserable 2022 when Wales lost nine Tests, including demoralising home defeats against Italy and Georgia.

Gatland’s World Cup record with Wales is impressive – two semi-final appearances and one quarter-final – while he relishes an underdog status that regularly accompanies his players.

A 33-1 shot, Wales might not be expected to feature at the tournament’s business-end, but Gatland will have other ideas.

Rugby World Cup 2023 talking points

10:19 , Mike Jones

Discipline in the spotlight

The widespread hope is that France 2023 will be remembered above anything else for the quality of rugby on show – but it is not guaranteed.

High tackles, red cards, yellow cards and disciplinary hearings are an inevitability, while spectators are becoming accustomed with the foul play review bunker, where a second television match official can decide – on referral from the referee – if a yellow card should become red.

Coaches will want consistency, too, on punishments handed out by disciplinary chiefs – England captain Owen Farrell’s recent case highlighting that need – and all matters being efficiently and promptly dealt with.

Rugby World Cup 2023 talking points

10:13 , Mike Jones

England up against it

It is 20 years since England conquered the rugby world – a success built from an imposing platform provided by players like Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Jason Robinson and Richard Hill.

Two more finals followed in 2007 and 2019 – England lost both – and they will arrive in France following a difficult build-up.

New head coach Steve Borthwick, appointed earlier this year, oversaw an underwhelming Six Nations campaign, while key players Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola are suspended for opening World Cup pool action after being sent off during warm-up games.

There is little to suggest that England will be title contenders.

Rugby World Cup 2023 talking points

09:47 , Mike Jones

A wide-open tournament?

Only four countries – New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and England – have won the World Cup during its nine previous stagings.

The All Blacks and Springboks are once again expected to feature prominently, but Ireland and France can be confidently added to that mix.

Six Nations champions Ireland, under the coaching direction of Andy Farrell, surged to top spot in rugby union’s world rankings, while Les Bleus’ thrilling playing style and power game are an irresistible combination.

A lop-sided draw – it was carried out in December 2020 – has all the heavy-hitters in its top half, which could assist teams like the Wallabies and Wales merely adding to the intrigue.

Rugby World Cup latest news

09:38 , Mike Jones

Good Morning and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of the latest news from the Rugby World Cup in France.

The start of the tournament is eagerly awaited and the first match kicks off on Friday night when the hosts take on New Zealand in what should be an electric and entertaining clash of titans.

Before then, the different teams have set up their training camps across the country and are preparing for their own opening games.

England take on Argentina on Saturday and as today is an access day for the media there will be news filtering through about how well Steve Borthwick’s men are readying themselves for this tricky match-up.

We’ll also have updates from the Irish, Scottish and Welsh camps as well as any breaking news that comes out too so stick around throughout the day for the latest updates from the Rugby World Cup.

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