Here are your rugby evening headlines for Wednesday, 30 September.
England face World Cup strike disruptions
A proposed one-day strike by French air traffic controllers could cause problems for England during the upcoming World Cup.
The largest Air Traffic Controller union in France has announced its intention to strike on September 15, which could impact travellers heading to the country.
The Syndicat national des contrôleurs du trafic aérien is pressing for pay rises. It said in a press release that it is acting due to “the silence of the French civil aviation authority in the face of inflation.”
Steve Borthwick’s side could be affected by the strike if it goes ahead. They are due to fly to Nice on September 15, before facing Japan there on September 17. The same journey by train could take 10 hours.
The Wales team are unlikely to be affected by the proposed strike, given they travel directly to Nice from Bordeaux following their match against Fiji on September 10.
While there’s no need for the Welsh players to be flying ahead of their second pool match against Portugal on September 16, it’s feasible Welsh fans could struggle to get to Nice to see Warren Gatland’s men in action.
The strike will take place from the beginning of the morning shift on Friday September 15 to the end of the night shift that same day – with potential to affect flights on the days before and after.
South Africa free to use 7-1 bench in France
South Africa are free to use their 7-1 bench split at the Rugby World Cup in France.
The Springboks loaded their replacement bench with seven forwards and one back for last week’s hammering of New Zealand. Having won the World Cup on the back of a 6-2 split dubbed the ‘Bomb squad’, some have turned on the fact that the world champions seem ready to lean upon their incredible roster of forward power even more.
Former Scotland coach Matt Williams accused the Springboks of “abusing” the bench, before adding that limits should be set as he said it was “against the spirit of the game”. Editorials in the Irish media have also questioned the safety of the tactic.
Despite that, the Evening Standard report that World Rugby are satisfied there is no heightened risk to players and have no plans to change the regulations to outlaw a 7-1 split.
Teams have tended to select five forwards and three backs as replacements, although sides with a strong set of forwards might opt for a 6-2 split. But beyond being required to have a full replacement front-row, there are no other regulations in place for how you compile your bench.
Ntamack opens up on World Cup-ending injury
Injured France fly-half Romain Ntamack has opened up on the injury that ruled him out of a home World Cup.
Speaking to Canal+, Ntamack discussed the ruptured ACL suffered against Scotland that has left him needing surgery.
“It’s going pretty well,” he said. “I spent two simple weeks. Let’s say, I spent some holidays with my family and loved ones. They made me move on. Of course, I kept in touch with my team-mates and I am also very happy with their victory (versus Australia).
“I’m going to have surgery this Thursday so I can’t wait to start my own World Cup and get back on the pitch as soon as possible, without going too fast to avoid a relapse.
“There is always more serious [things in life], it remains only rugby. I’m lucky to be quite young and maybe be able to play another World Cup if I give myself the means, but it’s frustrating. I had given myself the means to participate and start on September 8. I was blessed in the final of the Top 14 two months ago, and today a twist of fate fell on me.
“I’m taking this injury to rest mentally and physically. It’s been a very long time since I cut. I will take all the positives to help my teammates at Stade Toulousain.
“I hope France go as far as they can. I have been watching all the games. I try to take a step back as much as possible so as not to feel sorry for myself. It will take as long as it takes but I will come back. It’s just one knee, I still have a long way to go.”
Boks must improve discipline – Vermeulen
South Africa No. 8 Duane Vermeulen says that sharpening up their discipline will be a key focus as they head to Corsica for a final training camp before the World Cup.
The defending champions signed off their warm-up campaign with a convincing 35-7 victory over the All Blacks at Twickenham that reinforced their credentials as contenders in France.
Despite that impressive win in London, the Springboks feel it wasn’t a perfect performance.
“We made mistakes against New Zealand and there were a few things that didn’t go our way and discipline was one of them,” Vermeulen said.
“We got a yellow card and penalties can make you lose a game, so we have to sharpen up on that. There’s still a lot in the tank. All the focus 1693420724 is on Scotland.
“We wanted to lay a marker going into the World Cup [against the All Blacks] and wanted to show each other what lies inside every person. We played for one another and it was a fantastic result for us.
“It was our biggest margin over New Zealand so it was a good one and good preparation — but it’s now just the start of the World Cup and hopefully we can go into it with a bit of confidence.
“We wanted to play a full 80 after the last time we met and the guys played their part. Our previous game against New Zealand wasn’t great and our first 20 minutes was our worst performance against New Zealand ever.
“They capitalised on our mistakes. In the week we’d worked on those small things that didn’t go well.
“This is one step in the right direction — there are still one or two little things we can tweak. The coaches are happy and the team’s happy with the performance and hopefully we can build on that.”