Around the World Cup (Day 14)

Your round-up of the stories behind the headlines from Day 14 of #RWC2019

Around the World Cup (Day 14)

The Wallaby Way

‘Kind of cool’: that was the reaction of Australia’s Matt To'omua to the indigenous-inspired jersey reflecting the different ethnic backgrounds of the Australia squad that will be worn in Saturday’s Pool D clash with Uruguay.

With seven Wallabies boasting Samoan heritage, five of Tongan descent, four with their cultural roots in Fiji and Kurtley Beale a proud member of Australia's First Nations peoples, the Melbourne Rebels centre cannot wait to wear it.

"To see an indigenous jersey filled with a team full of brown guys is kind of cool and kind of different," said To'omua. "It is very much indigenous art and an indigenous jersey, but it is representative of society changing in a sport that, in the past, was once seen as being upper-class, white-collar.

"It's recognition of quite a few things regarding where we are moving as a society - it's quite exciting. The make-up of the Wallabies team is a lot different culturally than it was 10 years ago. So, we are getting little things like this. While it's just a different jersey, it means a lot to a lot of people back home."

French Tinkerman

Another day, another different French half-back pairing. Les Bleus coach Jacques Brunel has made 11 changes from the team that played the USA in his starting XV for the Pool C match against Tonga on Sunday.

The selection of Baptiste Serin and Romain Ntamack at scrum-half and fly-half, respectively, means that France have selected their third different half-back partnership of the World Cup, and their 16th different half-back partnership in their 43 matches since RWC 2015.

The four players retained from the 33-9 victory in Fukuoka on Wednesday are Camille Chat, Paul Gabrillagues, Sofiane Gitoune and Alivereti Raka.

France: M Medard, D Penaud, V Vakatawa, S Guitoune, Ai Raka, R Ntamack, B Serin; J Poirot (capt.), C Chat, R Slimani, P Gabrillagues, S Vahaamahina, W Lauret, C Ollivon, G Alldritt.

What makes New Zealand special

Interesting thoughts from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen when asked how such a small nation continues to dominate world rugby.

"It's not about money because we don't have much of it. It's not a coincidence that a lot of the coaches around the world at the moment are New Zealanders. It's about rugby education, some natural talent through our bloodlines. Our history as pioneers has created people that want to be first, who want to find a way when it gets tough and so all those things mould you into the nation you become."

A longer World Cup?

The World Cup too long for you? Well, Scotland assistant coach Mike Blair believes the tournament isn’t long enough and wants World Rugby to extend its length and increase the number of players who can travel to the tournament. He reckons the current set-up leaves competing nations "vulnerable".

The Scots face a make-or-break double header with Russia and Japan just four days apart as they seek to reach the quarter-finals in Ireland’s Pool A. They need two wins and at least one bonus point - perhaps two depending on how they fare in their final game with the Brave Blossoms on October 13 - to seal qualification to the last eight.

It is too late to change the rules and schedule for this year's competition in the Far East but Blair says the situation should be looked at in future.

"I think bigger World Cup squads would certainly help. It's a challenging position to be in. You leave yourselves a little bit vulnerable in some positions when you cut down to 31-men. So there's no doubt a couple more players would definitely help, as would potentially extending (the competition) an extra few days so everyone gets similar breaks in between.

Out of this world

To Japan and beyond? Yes, and for one rugby-crazy Italian, far far beyond - like International Space Station beyond. Italian European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano is a massive rugby fan and although he has taken over command of the International Space Station this week some 400kms above Japan, he will be able to watch his beloved Azzurri take on South Africa today.

In a first RWC broadcast in space, World Rugby is providing a special feed for Parmitano..

Marvels of modern medicine

Tonga full-back Telusa Veainu is relieved he is still able to run around a rugby pitch. Because without modern medical care, he might have lost a foot last season.

The Leicester Tiger, who scored the Pacific islanders’ two tries in their 28-12 defeat by Argentina last Saturday, spent much of last season out of action after suffering a serious foot injury playing against Saracens in a cup match.

"It’s called a Lisfranc injury and back in the day they used to just amputate," Veainu told the official Rugby World Cup website. He still wears a protective boot when he travels. "It’s hard to explain, but my foot basically got crushed and the bone split. I think it was two props who came down on top of me."

French surgeon Jacques Lisfranc de St Martin, who died in 1847, discovered the fracture pattern among cavalrymen injured in the Napoleonic wars. He pioneered a number of surgical procedures involving kidney stones, hysterectomy, and removal of the rectum.

His work on foot injuries led to a joint and a fracture being named after him.

Leitch starts for hosts

Pieter Labuschagne remains as captain and fellow flanker Michael Leitch returns to the starting XV for Japan as hooker Atsushi Sakate makes his World Cup debut against Samoa tomorrow.

Blossoms coach Jamie Joseph has made two changes from the win over Ireland with Wimpie van der Walt returning to start in place of Luke Thompson, who misses out from selection in the 23-man squad. Regular hooker Shota Horie starts on the bench, while Kazuki Himeno continues his number eight role after starting as flanker last Sunday.

JAPAN: R Yamanaka, K Matsushima, T Lafaele, R Nakamura, L Lava Lemeki, Y Tamura, Y Nagare; K Inagaki, A Sakate, J Koo, W van der Walt, J Moore, M Leitch, P Labuschagne (capt.), Ki Himeno.

Did you know

Fiji's Semi Radrada carried for 177 metres against Georgia, the most by any player in a single game at RWC 2019. It is also only 31 metres fewer than the entire Tonga team averages per match at the tournament.

Quote of the day

"If I had to bet my farm on a team to win the World Cup – that would be a horrible thing to do, by the way – it would be the Springboks. England have a good chance and Wales are looking good, but South Africa are our neighbours, so I've got to back them."

- Former Namibia captain Jacques Burger has cultivated a healthy respect for his southern Africa counterparts.

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