Here are the latest rugby headlines on Monday, September 25.
Dan Biggar injury fate revealed
Dan Biggar faces a number of weeks on the sidelines as he recovers from an arm injury. The Wales fly-half was an early departure from his side’s monumental 40-6 win over Australia on Sunday, and head coach Warren Gatland revealed post-match that he had strained a pectoral muscle and could be rested for the clash against Georgia on October 7 to fully recover.
A third successive Pool C victory sent Wales into the last eight for a fourth successive World Cup under head coach Gatland. They are guaranteed to top the group if they defeat Georgia next month, setting up a likely quarter-final clash against Argentina in Marseille.
Gatland said: “He’s stretched his pec. We’re not too sure. I’ve haven’t spoken to the medics, but I’ve spoken to Dan. They’re saying it’s probably a couple of weeks. We’ve got 13 days’ break now before we take on Georgia so that potentially rules him out of that match, just to recover. It’s not a significant injury. It’s just a pec strain.”
Replacement fly-half Gareth Anscombe was drafted in just 12 minutes into the fixture but put in a masterclass display to guide his side to a phenomenal win, picking up the official man of the match gong. Reacting post-match, he said: “I’m just absolutely delighted, so relieved. We knew they were going to be desperate. We talked a lot this week about family and the people we care about. We talk about the red wall and to concede only six points against Australia, just remarkable. Delighted for the boys.
“Dan Biggar means so much to this team, he’s a real spiritual leader. I knew I had to just come on and do my role and that was all I was focused on. The boys were really calm and we got off to a really good start. Our boys up front were outstanding, they dominated the set-piece and I was just able to keep rolling forward.”
Gatland said of Anscombe: “He wasn’t 100 per cent happy with his game last week. He’s come back from injury and been under-done. He hadn’t had a lot of the preparation time with the squad as he’d broken his thumb. We leaned on that experience and I think he really stepped up tonight. Last week’s game was one he needed under his belt to get through that. He defended well, some gritty tackles, kept the scoreboard ticking over with threes and the drop-goal as well. It was a pleasing performance from him.” To get the latest rugby news sent straight to your inbox, sign up to WalesOnline’s daily rugby newsletter here.
Jac Morgan lost for words
Wales captain Jac Morgan was lost for words after leading his side to their epic win over the Wallabies. Morgan got through a mountain of work, always winning in the contact area, slowed down ball at the breakdown, played a crucial role in Wales’ opening try and scored a second half one for himself, too.
Speaking post-match, he said: “Words can’t really explain how proud I am for us to put in a performance like that. It’s been a tough couple of months and we’ve worked really hard, so that was massive for us.
“Over the last couple of games, in areas we’ve played really well, but today our discipline was much better, which hasn’t put us under as much pressure. The crowd was amazing, it’s fantastic to see all that red in the crowd.”
Scotland boss thinks standard of officiating needs to improve
By Anthony Brown, PA, Nice
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend insisted the standard of officiating at the World Cup needs to improve after being left perplexed by the decision not to issue a red card to Tonga’s Afusipa Taumoepeau for a high tackle that forced his captain Jamie Ritchie off and ruled him out of the next match against Romania. The Scots scored seven tries as they defeated the Pacific islanders 45-17 in Nice on Sunday to get the bonus-point win they needed to kick-start their tournament and keep alive their hopes of progressing to the knockout phase.
However, Townsend was astonished that Taumoepeau did not have his yellow card upgraded to a red for the 33rd-minute flashpoint that left his skipper with a head injury and unable to take part in full contact training until the eve of what is shaping up to be a critical showdown with Ireland in Paris a week on Saturday. The head coach’s anger was heightened by the fact there was a similar scenario in Scotland’s first game when South Africa’s Jesse Kriel dodged a red card despite appearing to make head-on-head contact with Jack Dempsey.
“It’s very disappointing that our captain, one of our key players, was hit in the head and had to be removed from the game,” said Townsend. “It’s twice now that’s happened. Against South Africa, Jack was hit in the head. Nothing happened that day, and today it was only a yellow card.
“I just don’t understand what the TMO bunker and the three officials who are there to say if it’s a red card are looking at. They are trying to look at ways to not give red cards rather than referee what isn’t a legal tackle and should be a red card, in my opinion.
“This is our showcase, our opportunity to show what is legal and what is illegal, what we want out of the game. That’s two tackles now, both upright, both hit the head of our players, one had no sanction, not even a penalty, and the second one just had a yellow card. I don’t think that’s good enough.”
Marcus Smith says playing alongside Owen Farrell and George Ford ‘an honour’
By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent, Lille
Marcus Smith finished England’s World Cup rout of Chile in the same back line as Owen Farrell and George Ford – six years after rushing his A-level maths exam to train with his heroes. England experimented by deploying all three of their fly-halves for the final half-hour of Saturday’s 71-0 victory in Lille that places them on the brink of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Smith was operating in his new role of full-back while Ford stepped off the bench to form a creative axis with Farrell designed to run spirited but outclassed Chile off their feet. For Smith it was a special moment after his first encounter with the duo came in May 2017 when he took part in England’s camp in his native Brighton, where he was studying as an 18-year-old.
“Those two have been really influential ever since I was invited to train with England when I was very young,” he said. “I was very lucky that England went to Brighton College – I went to Brighton College – and I had to beg my teachers because when I heard that opportunity was available because I was desperate to take it.
“I rushed my maths exams so I could get on the field. I had my rugby socks on and I was ready to go. I got a B, I think. I’ll take that – maybe I rushed it too much!
“To be able to learn from the best two fly-halves in England was special for me. They’ve been really helpful to me. It was class to play with Owen and George against Chile. To have two guys who are unbelievably skilful inside, able to see space, and for me to have slightly more space in the outside channels was a pleasure. They managed to find me a few times and I really enjoyed running in the wider channels. To all be out there at the same time was an honour. It was a day I’ll never forget.”
Stuart McInally gets emotional Scotland send-off as injury ends World Cup
By Anthony Brown, PA, Nice
Stuart McInally was given an emotional send-off from the Scotland squad following Sunday’s victory over Tonga after the veteran hooker was forced out of the World Cup with a neck injury just over a week after being given a late call-up. Glasgow’s Johnny Matthews has been added to the group in place of the 33-year-old Edinburgh forward, who announced in April that he was retiring from rugby after the tournament to pursue a new career as an airline pilot.
McInally has had a roller-coaster few months after being included in the provisional 41-man training squad, then cut when Gregor Townsend trimmed his pool to 33 in August. He was then called to join the squad after his long-time Edinburgh team-mate Dave Cherry suffered concussion when falling down the stairs at the team hotel a fortnight ago. It raised the prospect of McInally – currently on 49 caps – getting the chance to make his 50th appearance for Scotland at the World Cup before retiring, but that chance is now gone and he is preparing to fly back to Scotland after feeling pain in his neck in training.
“Right now he is very emotional,” said Townsend. “He got a presentation in the changing room from the players and (long-time Scotland and Edinburgh team-mate) Grant Gilchrist gave him a fantastic speech. It’s a very emotional time for all of us, especially Stuart.
“To get the news on Saturday that he wasn’t going to recover in time from a neck injury he picked up in training is so disappointing for him. We all thought this would be a great way for him to end his career, coming out and getting his 50th cap and contributing to our World Cup career.
“That was something he deserved and had earned given what he had put into that jersey over his career and what he has put in over the last three months. It’s just bad luck – it wasn’t even an injury in the session, it was more that at the end of the session he felt pain in his neck. He didn’t recover for two days and we had him scanned on Saturday, to see if there was a bigger issue, which there is.”