England score seven tries in Rugby World Cup thrashing of USA but Owen Farrell gets flattened by dangerous tackle

26 Sep

England secured their second win in as many games at the Rugby World Cup after over-powering the United States 45-7 in a match that was marred by a savage challenge on Owen Farrell that led to the first red card of the tournament.

Farrell, who was a second-half replacement at the Kobe Misaki Stadium, was attempting to pick the ball up off the ground before being struck with a shoulder charge by American flanker John Quill that caught him on the jaw.

This is the sickening moment when Farrell got shoulder-charged
ITV
The tackle unsurprisingly sent Farrell straight to the deck
ITV

The England captain crashed to the floor but was quickly back on his feet as a brawl erupted with Mark Wilson leading the shoving before being joined by a large group of his outraged team-mates.

Referee Nic Berry reviewed the footage and dismissed Quill, who could have no complaints at being severely punished for such a thuggish tackle.

Eddie Jones predicted that playing the USA would be like facing “15 Donald Trumps – aggressive, brash, ready to take on the world”, but the biggest challenge was dealing with the suffocating humidity in Kobe.

With the roof to the ground closed, the stifling conditions made for an energy-sapping encounter for which England had prepared with two ‘heat camps’ in Treviso in the build-up to the tournament.

Wing Joe Cokanasiga plundered two tries and it was a more accomplished display than the underwhelming victory over Tonga that opened Pool C, producing a second successive bonus-point win ahead of the key battles with Argentina and France.

England’s set-piece battered Gary Gold’s underdogs in the first half before they cut loose, expertly directed by fly-half George Ford who was named man of the match.

Ford scored 15 points in the match
Getty Images - Getty

Piers Francis was lucky to escape any punishment for a reckless tackle on full-back Will Holley in the opening seconds but otherwise Berry had a tidy match just two days after World Rugby released a statement criticising the overall performance of officials in the tournament.

The set-piece dominance England enjoyed was helped when 19-year-old Eagles prop David Ainuu was helped from the pitch in only the third minute after falling awkwardly at a scrum.

And the odds of threatening an upset lengthened shortly after when a muscular run from Billy Vunipola sucked in defenders to create space that was exploited by Ford in the next phase by running through a large gap.

England were playing at a high tempo despite the heat and were successfully stretching the US, creating a chance for Cokanasiga who was well tackled by Blaine Scully.

The kicking game superbly directed by Ford and Willi Heinz was serving them well but their discipline was far less on point after conceding four penalties inside 15 minutes.

A driving line-out sent the USA hurtling backwards so when England were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, Ford opted for touch instead of taking the points and was immediately rewarded.

Once again the Eagles were scattered at the set-piece and Vunipola was at the bottom of the pile of white shirts as the pack crashed over.

Just as their line-out was dismantled, England pulverised the underdogs’ scrum and from the ensuing penalty they launched another arrowing line-out that ended with Luke Cowan-Dickie touching down.

The half ended with Jonathan Joseph scooping up Elliot Daly’s kick only for Cokanasiga to drop the final pass as the line beckoned.

Successive knock-ons by Joe Launchbury interrupted momentum as the second half was launched with a series of English attacks, but the bonus point arrived in the 47th minute when Joseph performed an elaborate dummy to create the opportunity for Cokanasiga to drive over.

Cokanasiga caused the USA all sorts of problems
Getty - Contributor

The one-way traffic continued with Wilson, who had replaced Vunipola at half-time, making an impact through a series of purposeful carries and wing Ruaridh McConnochie was the next to cross as the beneficiary of some quick hands.

Lewis Ludlam pounced on a poor American line-out to restart the charge but with a four-on-one overlap down the left, Ford butchered what should have been a routine pass.

The Leicester fly-half made amends, however, by producing a neat step to enable Ludlam to cross before Quill was given his marching orders.

Having wasted another chance shortly before, Cokanasiga went over for his second try but the US grabbed a late consolation score through replacement Bryce Campbell as England were caught on the counter-attack.

There was one other match on Thursday as Italy went top of their pool with a bonus-point victory over Canada in Fukuoka.

The Azzurri scored seven tries as they ran out 48-7 winners to follow up their opening match triumph over Namibia.

Italy still have to face Pool B heavyweights South Africa and New Zealand.

Italy have continued their perfect start to the 2019 Rugby World Cup
Getty Images - Getty

England score seven tries in Rugby World Cup thrashing of USA but Owen Farrell gets flattened by dangerous tackle

26 Sep

England secured their second win in as many games at the Rugby World Cup after over-powering the United States 45-7 in a match that was marred by a savage challenge on Owen Farrell that led to the first red card of the tournament.

Farrell, who was a second-half replacement at the Kobe Misaki Stadium, was attempting to pick the ball up off the ground before being struck with a shoulder charge by American flanker John Quill that caught him on the jaw.

This is the sickening moment when Farrell got shoulder-charged
ITV
The tackle unsurprisingly sent Farrell straight to the deck
ITV

The England captain crashed to the floor but was quickly back on his feet as a brawl erupted with Mark Wilson leading the shoving before being joined by a large group of his outraged team-mates.

Referee Nic Berry reviewed the footage and dismissed Quill, who could have no complaints at being severely punished for such a thuggish tackle.

Eddie Jones predicted that playing the USA would be like facing “15 Donald Trumps – aggressive, brash, ready to take on the world”, but the biggest challenge was dealing with the suffocating humidity in Kobe.

With the roof to the ground closed, the stifling conditions made for an energy-sapping encounter for which England had prepared with two ‘heat camps’ in Treviso in the build-up to the tournament.

Wing Joe Cokanasiga plundered two tries and it was a more accomplished display than the underwhelming victory over Tonga that opened Pool C, producing a second successive bonus-point win ahead of the key battles with Argentina and France.

England’s set-piece battered Gary Gold’s underdogs in the first half before they cut loose, expertly directed by fly-half George Ford who was named man of the match.

Ford scored 15 points in the match
Getty Images - Getty

Piers Francis was lucky to escape any punishment for a reckless tackle on full-back Will Holley in the opening seconds but otherwise Berry had a tidy match just two days after World Rugby released a statement criticising the overall performance of officials in the tournament.

The set-piece dominance England enjoyed was helped when 19-year-old Eagles prop David Ainuu was helped from the pitch in only the third minute after falling awkwardly at a scrum.

And the odds of threatening an upset lengthened shortly after when a muscular run from Billy Vunipola sucked in defenders to create space that was exploited by Ford in the next phase by running through a large gap.

England were playing at a high tempo despite the heat and were successfully stretching the US, creating a chance for Cokanasiga who was well tackled by Blaine Scully.

The kicking game superbly directed by Ford and Willi Heinz was serving them well but their discipline was far less on point after conceding four penalties inside 15 minutes.

A driving line-out sent the USA hurtling backwards so when England were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, Ford opted for touch instead of taking the points and was immediately rewarded.

Once again the Eagles were scattered at the set-piece and Vunipola was at the bottom of the pile of white shirts as the pack crashed over.

Just as their line-out was dismantled, England pulverised the underdogs’ scrum and from the ensuing penalty they launched another arrowing line-out that ended with Luke Cowan-Dickie touching down.

The half ended with Jonathan Joseph scooping up Elliot Daly’s kick only for Cokanasiga to drop the final pass as the line beckoned.

Successive knock-ons by Joe Launchbury interrupted momentum as the second half was launched with a series of English attacks, but the bonus point arrived in the 47th minute when Joseph performed an elaborate dummy to create the opportunity for Cokanasiga to drive over.

Cokanasiga caused the USA all sorts of problems
Getty - Contributor

The one-way traffic continued with Wilson, who had replaced Vunipola at half-time, making an impact through a series of purposeful carries and wing Ruaridh McConnochie was the next to cross as the beneficiary of some quick hands.

Lewis Ludlam pounced on a poor American line-out to restart the charge but with a four-on-one overlap down the left, Ford butchered what should have been a routine pass.

The Leicester fly-half made amends, however, by producing a neat step to enable Ludlam to cross before Quill was given his marching orders.

Having wasted another chance shortly before, Cokanasiga went over for his second try but the US grabbed a late consolation score through replacement Bryce Campbell as England were caught on the counter-attack.

There was one other match on Thursday as Italy went top of their pool with a bonus-point victory over Canada in Fukuoka.

The Azzurri scored seven tries as they ran out 48-7 winners to follow up their opening match triumph over Namibia.

Italy still have to face Pool B heavyweights South Africa and New Zealand.

Italy have continued their perfect start to the 2019 Rugby World Cup
Getty Images - Getty

England score seven tries in Rugby World Cup thrashing of USA but Owen Farrell gets flattened by dangerous tackle

26 Sep

England secured their second win in as many games at the Rugby World Cup after over-powering the United States 45-7 in a match that was marred by a savage challenge on Owen Farrell that led to the first red card of the tournament.

Farrell, who was a second-half replacement at the Kobe Misaki Stadium, was attempting to pick the ball up off the ground before being struck with a shoulder charge by American flanker John Quill that caught him on the jaw.

This is the sickening moment when Farrell got shoulder-charged
ITV
The tackle unsurprisingly sent Farrell straight to the deck
ITV

The England captain crashed to the floor but was quickly back on his feet as a brawl erupted with Mark Wilson leading the shoving before being joined by a large group of his outraged team-mates.

Referee Nic Berry reviewed the footage and dismissed Quill, who could have no complaints at being severely punished for such a thuggish tackle.

Eddie Jones predicted that playing the USA would be like facing “15 Donald Trumps – aggressive, brash, ready to take on the world”, but the biggest challenge was dealing with the suffocating humidity in Kobe.

With the roof to the ground closed, the stifling conditions made for an energy-sapping encounter for which England had prepared with two ‘heat camps’ in Treviso in the build-up to the tournament.

Wing Joe Cokanasiga plundered two tries and it was a more accomplished display than the underwhelming victory over Tonga that opened Pool C, producing a second successive bonus-point win ahead of the key battles with Argentina and France.

England’s set-piece battered Gary Gold’s underdogs in the first half before they cut loose, expertly directed by fly-half George Ford who was named man of the match.

Ford scored 15 points in the match
Getty Images - Getty

Piers Francis was lucky to escape any punishment for a reckless tackle on full-back Will Holley in the opening seconds but otherwise Berry had a tidy match just two days after World Rugby released a statement criticising the overall performance of officials in the tournament.

The set-piece dominance England enjoyed was helped when 19-year-old Eagles prop David Ainuu was helped from the pitch in only the third minute after falling awkwardly at a scrum.

And the odds of threatening an upset lengthened shortly after when a muscular run from Billy Vunipola sucked in defenders to create space that was exploited by Ford in the next phase by running through a large gap.

England were playing at a high tempo despite the heat and were successfully stretching the US, creating a chance for Cokanasiga who was well tackled by Blaine Scully.

The kicking game superbly directed by Ford and Willi Heinz was serving them well but their discipline was far less on point after conceding four penalties inside 15 minutes.

A driving line-out sent the USA hurtling backwards so when England were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, Ford opted for touch instead of taking the points and was immediately rewarded.

Once again the Eagles were scattered at the set-piece and Vunipola was at the bottom of the pile of white shirts as the pack crashed over.

Just as their line-out was dismantled, England pulverised the underdogs’ scrum and from the ensuing penalty they launched another arrowing line-out that ended with Luke Cowan-Dickie touching down.

The half ended with Jonathan Joseph scooping up Elliot Daly’s kick only for Cokanasiga to drop the final pass as the line beckoned.

Successive knock-ons by Joe Launchbury interrupted momentum as the second half was launched with a series of English attacks, but the bonus point arrived in the 47th minute when Joseph performed an elaborate dummy to create the opportunity for Cokanasiga to drive over.

Cokanasiga caused the USA all sorts of problems
Getty - Contributor

The one-way traffic continued with Wilson, who had replaced Vunipola at half-time, making an impact through a series of purposeful carries and wing Ruaridh McConnochie was the next to cross as the beneficiary of some quick hands.

Lewis Ludlam pounced on a poor American line-out to restart the charge but with a four-on-one overlap down the left, Ford butchered what should have been a routine pass.

The Leicester fly-half made amends, however, by producing a neat step to enable Ludlam to cross before Quill was given his marching orders.

Having wasted another chance shortly before, Cokanasiga went over for his second try but the US grabbed a late consolation score through replacement Bryce Campbell as England were caught on the counter-attack.

There was one other match on Thursday as Italy went top of their pool with a bonus-point victory over Canada in Fukuoka.

The Azzurri scored seven tries as they ran out 48-7 winners to follow up their opening match triumph over Namibia.

Italy still have to face Pool B heavyweights South Africa and New Zealand.

Italy have continued their perfect start to the 2019 Rugby World Cup
Getty Images - Getty

Rugby World Cup: England make ten changes for second Pool C game as Joe Cokanasiga comes into side

24 Sep

George Ford will captain a much-changed England team in Thursday’s World Cup clash with the USA at Kobe Misaki Stadium.

Head coach Eddie Jones has made ten changes to the starting XV that launched the Pool C campaign with a 35-3 victory over Tonga in Sapporo.

Joe Cokanasiga will add firepower to the back line after being picked on the left wing in place of Jonny May, while Ruaridh McConnochie gets his chance on the wing.

Cokanasiga gets his chance for England in their second Pool game
AFP

Cokanasiga, the giant Fijian-born 21-year-old, has been struggling with a knee injury but has been passed fit for the second match of England’s four-day turnaround.

His presence makes up for Manu Tuilagi’s absence after the Leicester wrecking ball is rested in the wake of laying waste to Tonga with a devastating two-try salvo.

Captain Owen Farrell drops to the bench so Ford, who leads the team, continues at fly-half inside a new-look centre combination of Piers Francis and Jonathan Joseph.

McConnochie wins his second cap on the right wing with Elliot Daly continuing at full-back and Willi Heinz getting the nod ahead of Ben Youngs at scrum-half.

There are three survivors from the pack that started against Tonga in prop Joe Marler, flanker Tom Curry and number eight Billy Vunipola.

Lessons Learned: England ready to make Scotland pay for Ireland setback
Ford will captain England in Kobe
Getty

Vunipola started throughout the warm-up series and continues his run of games after a frustrating spell of injury that saw him suffer three broken arms in a year.

Henry Slade is absent despite making his comeback against Tonga after three months out with a knee injury incurred during last season’s Gallagher Premiership final.

Slade came on at full-back at the Sapporo Dome and hurt the same knee that resulted in his summer on the sidelines but was able to finish the match after receiving treatment.

Openside flanker Sam Underhill drops out of the squad completely and there is a return for back row Mark Wilson on the bench following his struggle with a knee injury.

Eddie Jones said: “The four-day turnaround is something we experimented with against Japan last autumn and so the players have had some experience of it.

“You have to make sure the two days before the game are exactly the same as you would normally have for any other game.

“What I see now is players handling it really well but the game on Thursday will be the litmus test.”

Rugby World Cup: England make ten changes for second Pool C game as Joe Cokanasiga comes into side

24 Sep

George Ford will captain a much-changed England team in Thursday’s World Cup clash with the USA at Kobe Misaki Stadium.

Head coach Eddie Jones has made ten changes to the starting XV that launched the Pool C campaign with a 35-3 victory over Tonga in Sapporo.

Joe Cokanasiga will add firepower to the back line after being picked on the left wing in place of Jonny May, while Ruaridh McConnochie also gets his chance on the wing.

Cokanasiga gets his chance for England in their second Pool game
AFP

Cokanasiga, the giant Fijian-born 21-year-old, has been struggling with a knee injury but has been passed fit for the second match of England’s four-day turnaround.

His presence makes up for Manu Tuilagi’s absence after the Leicester wrecking ball is rested in the wake of laying waste to Tonga with a devastating two-try salvo.

Captain Owen Farrell drops to the bench so Ford, who leads the team, continues at fly-half inside a new-look centre combination of Piers Francis and Jonathan Joseph.

McConnochie wins his second cap on the right wing with Elliot Daly continuing at full-back and Willi Heinz getting the nod ahead of Ben Youngs at scrum-half.

There are three survivors from the pack that started against Tonga in prop Joe Marler, flanker Tom Curry and number eight Billy Vunipola.

Lessons Learned: England ready to make Scotland pay for Ireland setback
Ford will captain England in Kobe
Getty

Vunipola started throughout the warm-up series and continues his run of games after a frustrating spell of injury that saw him suffer three broken arms in a year.

Henry Slade is absent despite making his comeback against Tonga after three months out with a knee injury incurred during last season’s Gallagher Premiership final.

Slade came on at full-back at the Sapporo Dome and hurt the same knee that resulted in his summer on the sidelines but was able to finish the match after receiving treatment.

Openside flanker Sam Underhill drops out of the squad completely and there is a return for back row Mark Wilson on the bench following his struggle with a knee injury.

Eddie Jones said: “The four-day turnaround is something we experimented with against Japan last autumn and so the players have had some experience of it.

“You have to make sure the two days before the game are exactly the same as you would normally have for any other game.

“What I see now is players handling it really well but the game on Thursday will be the litmus test.”

Rugby World Cup 2019: Manu Tuilagi brace helps England secure comfortable bonus-point victory over Tonga in opening game

22 Sep

England’s World Cup campaign began with a solid 35-3 victory over Tonga as Manu Tuilagi produced a stand-out display for Eddie Jones’ men.

Tuilagi’s two first-half tries put England on course for victory in an otherwise otherwise workmanlike performance from the 2003 winners.

Manu Tuilagi, right, was superb for England as they got their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start with a thumping victory over Tonga
Getty Images - Getty

The Lions powerhouse has been used sparingly by Jones, whose only focus has been making sure he is at his most effective in time for Japan following years of injury-induced misery and in the northern island of Hokkaido he was magnificent.

But around him England struggled to subdue spoiling and tactically astute opponents who recently leaked almost 100 points to New Zealand, albeit in a warm-up match with nothing at stake.

It took until the 77th minute to secure the bonus point as Jonathan Joseph wriggled into space and sent Luke Cowan-Dickie sliding over, but it was the only highlight of a disjointed final quarter.

The match ended with Tonga pouring forward in search of a deserved try and they will be emboldened by their success in frustrating England’s strongest available side.

Henry Slade made his comeback from a knee injury but he needed treatment after going down and was later involved in an exchange of views with Elliot Daly over a botched chance.

Slade came on for Jonny May, who departed with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

From the start England’s pack were met with a wall of red shirts but out wide they created openings with ease as Sam Underhill and Tuilagi roamed into space.

It was not the kind of slick performance that manager Eddie Jones was hoping for from his side
Getty Images - Getty

In a rare sight, Billy Vunipola was sent hurtling backwards by openside Zane Kapeli and the Tonga bench celebrated the tackle with pumping fists, but Tuilagi later evened the score by flattening Sonatane Takulua.

Owen Farrell, who ended the game kicking 15 points, and Kurt Morath exchanged penalties and as the first quarter came to an end, England were struggling to generate momentum against opponents who were playing a smart gameplan.

Underhill appeared to have rolled over the whitewash after Tuilagi had rampaged behind enemy lines only for Siale Piutau to squeeze beneath the ball, but a try was imminent and it arrived from its most likely source.

A scrum 20 metres out gave Tuilagi the platform to attack and the Leicester wrecking ball barged his way over with the TMO this time awarding the try.

England’s bizarre attempt at dealing with the ensuing restart incurred the wrath of Jones, who slammed his desk twice in frustration.

Any anger subsided quickly, however, as Courtney Lawes stepped his way through heavy traffic to start an attack that accelerated through the gas of Daly and May and ended with Tuilagi strolling in for his second.

Having entered half-time 18-3 ahead, England began to lose their way and the scrappy flow to the game played into Tonga’s hands.

Even Tuilagi dropped the ball as he was launched once again, but the lack of impetus was in part due to the vast number of changes made by Jones, including the arrival of Slade at full-back.

A driving line-out bolstered by arriving backs arrowed over the whitewash in the 58th minute with Jamie George touching down and when play resumed Jones had used his entire bench except Joseph.

On came Joseph and with him the bonus point as he created the opening for Cowan-Dickie to touch down under the posts.

Rugby World Cup 2019: Manu Tuilagi brace helps England secure comfortable bonus-point victory over Tonga in opening game

22 Sep

England’s World Cup campaign began with a solid 35-3 victory over Tonga as Manu Tuilagi produced a stand-out display for Eddie Jones’ men.

Tuilagi’s two first-half tries put England on course for victory in an otherwise otherwise workmanlike performance from the 2003 winners.

Manu Tuilagi, right, was superb for England as they got their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start with a thumping victory over Tonga
Getty Images - Getty

The Lions powerhouse has been used sparingly by Jones, whose only focus has been making sure he is at his most effective in time for Japan following years of injury-induced misery and in the northern island of Hokkaido he was magnificent.

But around him England struggled to subdue spoiling and tactically astute opponents who recently leaked almost 100 points to New Zealand, albeit in a warm-up match with nothing at stake.

It took until the 77th minute to secure the bonus point as Jonathan Joseph wriggled into space and sent Luke Cowan-Dickie sliding over, but it was the only highlight of a disjointed final quarter.

The match ended with Tonga pouring forward in search of a deserved try and they will be emboldened by their success in frustrating England’s strongest available side.

Henry Slade made his comeback from a knee injury but he needed treatment after going down and was later involved in an exchange of views with Elliot Daly over a botched chance.

Slade came on for Jonny May, who departed with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

From the start England’s pack were met with a wall of red shirts but out wide they created openings with ease as Sam Underhill and Tuilagi roamed into space.

It was not the kind of slick performance that manager Eddie Jones was hoping for from his side
Getty Images - Getty

In a rare sight, Billy Vunipola was sent hurtling backwards by openside Zane Kapeli and the Tonga bench celebrated the tackle with pumping fists, but Tuilagi later evened the score by flattening Sonatane Takulua.

Owen Farrell, who ended the game kicking 15 points, and Kurt Morath exchanged penalties and as the first quarter came to an end, England were struggling to generate momentum against opponents who were playing a smart gameplan.

Underhill appeared to have rolled over the whitewash after Tuilagi had rampaged behind enemy lines only for Siale Piutau to squeeze beneath the ball, but a try was imminent and it arrived from its most likely source.

A scrum 20 metres out gave Tuilagi the platform to attack and the Leicester wrecking ball barged his way over with the TMO this time awarding the try.

England’s bizarre attempt at dealing with the ensuing restart incurred the wrath of Jones, who slammed his desk twice in frustration.

Any anger subsided quickly, however, as Courtney Lawes stepped his way through heavy traffic to start an attack that accelerated through the gas of Daly and May and ended with Tuilagi strolling in for his second.

Having entered half-time 18-3 ahead, England began to lose their way and the scrappy flow to the game played into Tonga’s hands.

Even Tuilagi dropped the ball as he was launched once again, but the lack of impetus was in part due to the vast number of changes made by Jones, including the arrival of Slade at full-back.

A driving line-out bolstered by arriving backs arrowed over the whitewash in the 58th minute with Jamie George touching down and when play resumed Jones had used his entire bench except Joseph.

On came Joseph and with him the bonus point as he created the opening for Cowan-Dickie to touch down under the posts.

England Rugby World Cup fixture sees them come up against heaviest player in Tonga prop Ben Tameifuna

20 Sep

Good luck, England. You’ll need it when you come up against Ben Tameifuna.

The Tonga and Racing 92 prop last year weighed 24 stone to make him the heaviest player in Test rugby.

Tameifuna, at 24 stone, is the heaviest, while Japan scrum half Fumiaki Tanaka is the shortest at 5ft 5in and 11.5 stone

Tameifuna arrived in Europe from Super Rugby in 2015. “When I came to France I was 148kg (23st 4lbs) so I’ve put on five kilos (11lbs),” he said in 2018.

When asked if that extra weight is muscle, he joked: “I bloody hope so. Mate, too many croissants and baguettes! Obviously I don’t have a six-pack – I look at food and put on weight!”

Eddie Jones has selected his strongest available starting XV for their World Cup opener, with Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler his front row, to take on the big-hitting Islanders at the Sapporo Dome on Sunday.

Tameifuna is the heaviest player in Test rugby
Getty Images - Getty

The coach has made just two changes to the side that beat Ireland 57-15 last month, with only Joe Cokanasiga and George Kruis missing.

“The focus this week has been about getting right for Tonga. We have had a good seven days in Japan where we have acclimatised really well,” Jones said.

“Our sleep patterns are good and the physical conditioning of the players is outstanding. We have been able to add a bit more on our team togetherness and cohesion too.

“Now it is about putting in a game plan against Tonga and it is important to be tactically right. We know they are going to be ferocious and full of pride and passion.

“They are a side that if they get a bit of momentum they can be very dangerous and are well-coached by Toutai Kefu.

“They have a great World Cup record and we will need to be at our best on Sunday.

“I don’t think there is anyone who isn’t excited about getting out there on Sunday and there is a good feeling around the place.

“We are delighted to be up here in Sapporo and to play at the stadium will be a unique experience for us and something the team is looking forward to.”

Eddie Jones appears to be going to the Tonga game all guns blazing
Getty Images - Getty

England Rugby World Cup fixture sees them come up against heaviest player in Tonga prop Ben Tameifuna

20 Sep

Good luck, England. You’ll need it when you come up against Ben Tameifuna.

The Tonga and Racing 92 prop last year weighed 24 stone to make him the heaviest player in Test rugby.

Tameifuna, at 24 stone, is the heaviest, while Japan scrum half Fumiaki Tanaka is the shortest at 5ft 5in and 11.5 stone

Tameifuna arrived in Europe from Super Rugby in 2015. “When I came to France I was 148kg (23st 4lbs) so I’ve put on five kilos (11lbs),” he said in 2018.

When asked if that extra weight is muscle, he joked: “I bloody hope so. Mate, too many croissants and baguettes! Obviously I don’t have a six-pack – I look at food and put on weight!”

Eddie Jones has selected his strongest available starting XV for their World Cup opener, with Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler his front row, to take on the big-hitting Islanders at the Sapporo Dome on Sunday.

Tameifuna is the heaviest player in Test rugby
Getty Images - Getty

The coach has made just two changes to the side that beat Ireland 57-15 last month, with only Joe Cokanasiga and George Kruis missing.

“The focus this week has been about getting right for Tonga. We have had a good seven days in Japan where we have acclimatised really well,” Jones said.

“Our sleep patterns are good and the physical conditioning of the players is outstanding. We have been able to add a bit more on our team togetherness and cohesion too.

“Now it is about putting in a game plan against Tonga and it is important to be tactically right. We know they are going to be ferocious and full of pride and passion.

“They are a side that if they get a bit of momentum they can be very dangerous and are well-coached by Toutai Kefu.

“They have a great World Cup record and we will need to be at our best on Sunday.

“I don’t think there is anyone who isn’t excited about getting out there on Sunday and there is a good feeling around the place.

“We are delighted to be up here in Sapporo and to play at the stadium will be a unique experience for us and something the team is looking forward to.”

Eddie Jones appears to be going to the Tonga game all guns blazing
Getty Images - Getty

England starting XV named for Rugby World Cup opener: George Ford at fly-half, captain Owen Farrell at inside centre against Tonga

20 Sep

Eddie Jones has selected his strongest available side for England’s Rugby World Cup opener against Tonga.

The England head coach has reverted almost entirely to the XV that sent Ireland spinning to a record defeat at Twickenham last month, with only Joe Cokanasiga and George Kruis missing from that team.

Jones will lead England out against Tonga in Sapporo

The midfield that engineered a 57-15 victory that day is back with George Ford chose at fly-half and playing inside a centre duo of captain Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi.
Cokanasiga has been struggling with a knee injury and despite being passed fit by the England management, is unable to even win a place on the bench for Sunday’s clash with Tonga at the Sapporo Dome, which kicks off at 11.15am UK time.

Instead, Anthony Watson has been given the chance to continue his strong form of the warm-up Tests by starting on the right wing, with Jonny May and Elliot Daly completing the back three.

Providing three-quarter cover on the bench is Jonathan Joseph and Henry Slade, both of whom have overcome knee injuries to take part.

Slade was unable to play a single minute of the four warm-up Tests but the Exeter playmaker is finally ready for his comeback as England look to launch the tournament with a statement performance.

Mako Vunipola is close to returning from a hamstring injury, so his deputy Joe Marler is preferred at loosehead prop and the only surprise pick up-front is Courtney Lawes’s presence at lock, with Kruis settling for a place on the bench.

Making a 10th successive appearance at number eight is Billy Vunipola. Either side of the big Saracen of Tongan heritage are flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill. Both are natural opensides but it is Curry who starts at six.

“The focus this week has been about getting right for Tonga. We have had a good seven days in Japan where we have acclimatised really well,” Jones said.

“Our sleep patterns are good and the physical conditioning of the players is outstanding. We have been able to add a bit more on our team togetherness and cohesion too.

Six Nations 2018: Owen Farrell to captain England against France as Dylan Hartley misses out
Captain Farrell will play at inside centre for England
GETTY

“Now it is about putting in a game plan against Tonga and it is important to be tactically right. We know they are going to be ferocious and full of pride and passion.

“They are a side that if they get a bit of momentum they can be very dangerous and are well-coached by Toutai Kefu.

“They have a great World Cup record and we will need to be at our best on Sunday.

“I don’t think there is anyone who isn’t excited about getting out there on Sunday and there is a good feeling around the place.

“We are delighted to be up here in Sapporo and to play at the stadium will be a unique experience for us and something the team is looking forward to.”


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England team to play Tonga:

E Daly (Saracens); A Watson (Bath), M Tuilagi (Leicester), O Farrell (Saracens, capt), J May (Leicester); G Ford (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); J Marler (Harlequins), J George (Saracens), K Sinckler (Harlequins), C Lawes (Northampton); M Itoje (Saracens), T Curry (Sale), S Underhill (Bath), B Vunipola (Saracens).

Replacements: L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), E Genge (Leicester), D Cole (Leicester), G Kruis (Saracens), L Ludlam (Northampton), W Heinz (Gloucester), H Slade (Exeter), J Joseph (Bath).