These are the latest rugby headlines on Wednesday, September 6.
Wales opposed to World Rugby intervention
Wales head coach Warren Gatland is against the idea of proposed water breaks during Rugby World Cup fixtures amid soaring temperatures in France.
The tournament hosts are experiencing soaring temperatures, with World Rugby considering allowing intervals during each half to help sides conquer the heat.
But Gatland believes Wales’ punishing fitness camps in Turkey and Switzerland will stand his side in good stead in the challenging climes.
Wales trained amid temperatures of more than 30 degrees on Tuesday, while the forecast for Sunday’s encounter is for 28 degrees at kick-off, even though the game does not start until 9pm local time.
On whether he is a fan of proposed water breaks during games, Gatland told a press conference: “Not particularly. We like the ball on the park as much as possible. But we are not going to argue, if that’s what’s decided.”
Wales co-captain Dewi Lake said: “We did our hard work out in Turkey. It was a nice little camp out there for a week, it set us up well for here. Hopefully with the 9pm kick-offs, it might be less warm than it is with me sweating in here now! It will affect the opposition as much as it affects us, it’s part of the game but something you have to get through together. But it’s something we’ve been prepared for in Switzerland and Turkey. It’s just about cracking on and doing the job.”
Wales hooker Elliot Dee added: “A couple of boys said that earlier: it’s hot, but it was hotter in Turkey. Exactly our words. We’ve put a lot of effort in over the last 15 weeks, gone through a lot of pain, lot of uncompromising conditions… it’s going to be hot for every team, it’s an even playing field.”
As for whether Wales feel they have an advantage in terms of fitness, Gatland said: “If we go to a dark place in our conditioning, hopefully that means they are in a darker pace [with more ball-in-play time]. We have been working incredibly hard as a group. They’ve got some big men and there’s no doubt we would like to move them around as much as possible. There are different ways of doing that, whether with ball in hand or the kicking strategy. Fiji have had five warm-up games so they are definitely rugby fit. But the boys went to a few dark places in the camps in Switzerland and Turkey.”
World Cup facing spying row after teams raise concerns
Chief Rugby Union correspondent Gavin Mairs writes that a “leading tier one nation is understood to have asked World Rugby for clarification about sanctions for any team found spying.” And that “there is a belief that training sessions have been spied on by international teams in recent years.”
There were major concerns about spying during the Lions 2021 tour of South Africa. Four-years-ago Eddie Jones said the England security team became aware of someone using a long-lens camera to film their entire training session at the World Cup.
There are now calls for teams caught spying to face punishment if caught.
World Rugby has so far declined to comment.
Wales ‘in positive place’ with injuries
Wales boss Warren Gatland has reported a clean bill of health among his World Cup squad heading into the crunch 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-up Tests. Faletau played no part in those fixtures due to a calf muscle problem, while hooker Lake went off after suffering a knee injury during Wales’ defeat against England at Twickenham.
Ryan Elias, Dafydd Jenkins and Gareth Anscombe have also recovered to be available for Sunday’s Pool C clash in Bordeaux.
“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.”
Lake departed during the first half at Twickenham, and the hooker added: “It always plays on your mind when you come off injured 20 minutes into a game. I am very grateful to be sat here, to the medical staff who got me through the three weeks at home and the coaching staff for selecting me post-injury. A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to get me ready for this weekend.”
Tom Curry in contention to start England World Cup opener
By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent, Le Touquet
England are ready to start Tom Curry in Saturday’s seismic World Cup opener against Argentina if there are no setbacks in his recovery from an ankle injury.
Curry missed all four warm-up Tests after spraining the joint during training in early August, but is now poised to make his first appearance since the Gallagher Premiership final in May. The influential 25-year-old is so valuable to England – especially in defence – that they are willing to slot him straight into the back row, most likely at openside flanker.
“It’s great to see Tom out there training, he’s been really good. He’s been excellent,” said defence coach Kevin Sinfield, who revealed the squad has a clean bill of health.
When asked if Curry could be recalled immediately, Sinfield replied: “We’ve got no doubt about that. 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. We’re delighted he’s available.”
England will need to be armed with every possible string to their bow when they clash with Argentina in Marseille having complied a record of five defeats in six Tests.
Ireland trio ruled out of World Cup opener
By Ed Elliot, PA, Tours
Ireland trio Jack Conan, Dan Sheehan and Dave Kilcoyne have been ruled out of Saturday’s Rugby World Cup opener against Romania in Bordeaux.
Back-rower Conan, who suffered a foot problem against Italy a month ago, was the only member of Andy Farrell’s 33-man squad to sit out training on Tuesday morning. Hooker Sheehan took part in the session at the team’s training base in Tours but will not be rushed back into action following the foot injury he sustained against England on August 19. Prop Kilcoyne is returning to fitness following a hamstring issue.
Ireland forwards coach Paul O’Connell said: “Everyone’s going well, there are a few guys still finishing their rehab and they won’t be involved at the weekend. But by and large we’re close to a full bill of health. Dan and Jack Conan (will not be involved). David Kilcoyne as well is struggling a little bit but should be OK next week.”
Ireland begin the competition at the top of the world rankings and among the favourites to go the distance.