These daily files will give you the latest reporting from around the World Cup as well as betting lines, what to watch for information and best reads. Check in with ESPN throughout the tournament as we bring you the latest from France.
THE LEAD: FRANCE ROCKED BY SUSPECTED FRACTURED JAW
France have been rocked with captain and star player Antoine Dupont rushed for scans after he suffered a suspected jaw fracture in his team’s 96-0 victory over Namibia on Friday morning (AEST).
While the nation holds its breath, coach Fabian Galthie has watered down any hopes the team will receive any positive news, saying the group “is extremely concerned”.
“There is suspicion of a crack or fracture of the maxillary bone,” Galthie said after the match. “He currently is in hospital, he’s being tested, I can’t tell you more than that. I’m staying connected and will tell you more if I hear [from him]. I’m writing to him now — live.
“We are never happy when a player gets injured. We are extremely concerned. It’s not the same as if we’d had no injuries.”
Dupont sustained the injury in the 46th minute in a head-to-head clash with Johan Deysel, whose initial yellow card was upgraded to a red.
The 26-year-old walked from the field with an icepack on his cheek before he left the Stade de Marseille to undergo medical assessments.
It’s a crushing blow for the host nation who are already without star fly-half Romain Ntamack who was ruled out of the tournament with an ACL tear in the side’s warmup Test last month.
Choosing to name his strongest side for a clash perceived as an easy win, Galthie was forced to defend his decision to not just name Dupont but to also keep him on the pitch after half-time when the side were already leading 54-0.
“What do you want me to say? You can’t change 15 players at half-time. We planned to change number 1 [loosehead prop], 3 [tighthead prop], and 5 [lock] at half-time and rotate around 55 percent [of the team],” he said.
“The role of this game was to give people game time.”
Dupont and almost all Galthie’s usual starters had been rested for France’s second game against Uruguay, which they scrapped through unconvincingly with a 27-12 win. He chose to revert to his usual starting side to build consistency and get minutes into their legs. But it appears to have come at a massive cost to the side and their hopes for a maiden World Cup title.
— Brittany Mitchell
AROUND THE CUP
Controversial 2019 decision a distant memory for Kerevi
Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi knows a thing or two about dramatic Tests against Wales, having been in arguably the most controversial contest of all, four years ago in Japan.
And as Australia are to meet their nemesis from Rugby World Cup 2019 once more, Kerevi on Thursday reflected on the incident that saw him later quip “maybe I should go and play rugby league” when he was penalised for a raised forearm when carrying the ball into Wales’ Rhys Patchell.
The decision turned out to be a pivotal call with Wales slotting a penalty goal after the Television Match Official interjection in a game they would go on to win 29-25.
“It’s all a blur now. We probably didn’t play to our full potential last time and there were a few little incidents in the game that were a bit bizarre for me,” Kerevi reflected when asked about his recollections of the match.
“But I feel like it’s gone so quick now, four years ago doesn’t seem that long ago, but I think Jordie [Petaia] and I were thinking about that last World Cup, it was kind of the last time we played together, and you fast forward and we’re here again. I’m a bit older and he’s a bit older, he’s not that young pup anymore.
“But that game was another important game, it’s always an important game against Wales and with anyone in our pool, no game is guaranteed. So I’m really excited for this challenge to turn the tide on what happened last time.”
The rugby world was certainly a different place back then. While Warren Gatland has since departed, and returned, as coach of Wales, Eddie Jones has jumped from England to Australia and Michael Cheika from the Wallabies to Argentina.
Back in 2019, a flabbergasted Cheika bemoaned that he no longer understood rugby’s lawbook, following a tackle earlier in the tournament that later earned Reece Hodge a three-week ban; the then-Australia coach likening Patchell’s upright technique to that which had seen his winger suspended.
“It was pretty funny, because I thought I had seen it before, might have been Reece Hodge, I am not sure,” Cheika said with a heavy dose of sarcasm.
“When our player does it, we get suspended and then this time we get penalised. As a former rugby player, I am embarrassed about it. As a player, I am embarrassed about it.”
Four years on, Kerevi again looms as a key player in what will be the third straight World Cup meeting between Australia and Wales — the ledger square a one win apiece with an average margin of only 5.5 points.
— Sam Bruce
While Namibia was soundly beaten by France in their Pool A clash on Thursday night [CET], there was still some happy news to come out of the camp with flanker Richard Hardwick announcing he and his partner will be expecting a daughter next year.
In an Instagram post a day before the match, Hardwick and his partner Mikaela took a quirky photoshoot at the Stade de Marseille stadium with the pair holding a child size Namibia jersey between them as they announced the baby was set to arrive in February.
Perhaps we’ll see baby Hardwick running out in Namibian or Australian colours at the women’s Rugby World Cup in 2043!
Argentina vs. Samoa:
TAB [tab.com.au] Argentina $1.16, -12.5 $1.85; Samoa $5.20, +12.5 $1.95
Argentina and Samoa meet in a crunch game in Pool D in Saint Etienne, with the Pumas looking to bounce back from a listless first-up showing against England. Michael Cheika’s men played against 14 men for 77 minutes in that match, but had no answer for the boot of George Ford and suddenly find themselves playing sudden-death rugby for the remainder of the pool phase.
Samoa, meanwhile, got their campaign off to a perfect start, picking up a bonus-point win over Chile last weekend after sitting out the opening round of games. They certainly have the attacking firepower to worry the Pumas, and their near miss against Ireland in the build-up reflected the improvement in their set-piece. But you get the feeling Argentina cannot play anywhere near as badly as they did first up in Marseille.
The boots of Emiliano Boffelli and Christian Leali’ifano will be pivotal in this clash, but the Pumas’ greater cohesion and soul searching of the past two weeks should see them scrape home. But there will be only a few points in it, and an upset is not beyond the Samoans.
NEWS OF THE DAY
Eddie Jones appears to have lost faith in his young fly-half Carter Gordon and has put his trust in young utility Ben Donaldson to take on the playmaker role for his side’s must-win clash with Wales on Monday morning [AEST].
Handed the reins for the Wallabies opening two World Cup matches, Gordon has struggled under the pressure and was eventually hooked early in their loss to Fiji last week with Donaldson moving from fullback to No.10 for the final 30-minutes of the match.
While Jones won’t name his team until Friday morning [CET], multiple reports have Donaldson set to replace Gordon in the run-on team, with Andrew Kellaway named for his first World Cup game at fullback.
Jones faced plenty of scrutiny pre-World Cup after he named just the one fly-half in his squad, while leaving experienced playmakers Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley at home.
TOP FEATURES OF THE DAY
For the second year in a row, injuries are killing the Wallabies’ Test season. Now at the Rugby World Cup, it is even more concerning. So what exactly is the problem, and would greater alignment between Super and Test level help fix it?