Makazole Mapimpi scored a hat-trick as South Africa rounded off their Rugby World Cup preparations with a resounding 41-7 win over Japan in Kumagaya on Friday.

Japan stunned the Springboks at the World Cup in England four years ago but there was no chance of a repeat as Rassie Erasmus' side surged to a commanding victory that maintained their unbeaten record in 2019.

Cheslin Kolbe opened the scoring in the corner before Mapimpi got off the mark following some excellent work from Willie le Roux, who plucked down a high ball and shook off his marker to send the wing through.

Despite Japan enjoying plenty of possession, the Springboks took a 22-0 lead into half-time when Handre Pollard added a penalty to a routine second from Mapimpi.

Mapimpi showed incredible pace when he motored away with Pieter-Steph du Toit's pass to complete his hat-trick, but Kotaro Matsushima – born in Pretoria – pulled one back to the delight of the home support.

South Africa finished the match a man light due to Francois Louw being sent to the sin bin following repeated team infringements, but Kolbe charged home from inside his own 22 and Herschel Jantjies scored his fourth try in as many Tests to send the Rugby Championship winners into the World Cup full of confidence.

Wallabies flanker David Pocock will retire from internationals after the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

Pocock, 31, is set to make his 78th Test appearance for Australia in a clash against Samoa in Parramatta on Saturday.

But the flanker will end his Test career after the Rugby World Cup, which begins in Japan on September 20, he announced on Friday.

"I think looking at the flankers coming through, I think we're in good hands and that's exciting for Australian rugby," the former Wallabies captain told a news conference.

"I feel like I've put a lot into it, I've really enjoyed it, benefitted a huge amount.

"As an immigrant to Australia, rugby's provided me with somewhere to make friends, to feel like I belong and obviously gone on to get huge opportunities playing professional rugby – Force, Brumbies and for the Wallabies.

"So, I feel like it's time to move on to other things and contribute in other areas."

Pocock is the third Wallaby to announce their international retirement this week, joining Sekope Kepu and Tatafu Polota-Nau.

Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray will feature together for the first time since March when Ireland host Wales at the Aviva Stadium in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up match on Saturday.

Joe Schmidt - who will be overseeing his final match in Dublin - and Warren Gatland named largely second-string teams for their first encounter at the Principality Stadium last weekend, which the visitors won 22-17.

Ireland have made 12 changes to their line-up, with Sexton returning from a thumb injury and half-back Murray making his first appearance since going off in the defeat to England at Twickenham on August 24.

Keith Earls and Robbie Henshaw will make their first pre-World Cup appearances, while Rory Best will captain the side in his last Test on home soil.

James Ryan, Jack Conan and Bundee Aki are the only players to have retained their spots in the starting line-up.

On the returns of Sexton, Henshaw and Earls, defence coach Andy Farrell said: "They've been held back for a week or two and are raring to go.

"It's important that we put in a cohesive performance and have the right mental attitude heading into the World Cup.

"It's about trying a few different combinations, too. The squad is down to 31 players but there is still massive competition for places.

"It's our last game before we get on the plane on Wednesday and we're after a performance that we're proud of."

 

Ireland: Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Keith Earls, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan, Jean Kleyn, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Iain Henderson, Rhys Ruddock, Jack Carty, Garry Ringrose.

Alun Wyn Jones returns to captain Wales for their final Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture against Ireland in a starting line-up featuring 15 changes.

Coach Warren Gatland has opted to make wholesale alterations for the fixture in Dublin following last weekend's 22-17 defeat against the same opponents in Cardiff.

Skipper Jones is joined by fellow powerhouse forwards Ross Moriarty and Justin Tipuric, while Aaron Wainwright makes up the back-row.

Rhys Patchell impressed enough off the bench against Ireland last time out to earn a place on the plane to Japan and is named at fly-half, with Tomos Williams starting at nine.

An exciting backline sees Hadleigh Parkes link up with Jonathan Davies at centre, while Josh Adams, George North and Leigh Halfpenny make up Wales' back three.

"This is our final preparation match so it is important we get enough rugby into us, get rugby ready ahead of our opener against Georgia which is just over two weeks away," said Gatland, whose squad depart for Japan on Wednesday.

"It is important we hit the ground running in Japan and we give the players enough time on the field.

"Saturday is the first time these players would have taken to the field as members of the World Cup squad, it has been a big week and it is a big opportunity for players to put their hand up and secure spots for the starting XV in Japan."


Wales team to face Ireland: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Rhys Patchell, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty

Replacements: Ken Owen, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Josh Navidi, Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar, Liam Williams

Joe Marchant will make his first Test start against Italy in England's final Rugby World Cup warm-up game in Newcastle, even though he is not in the squad for the tournament itself.

England named their 31-man squad on August 12 and Harlequins centre Marchant was absent from the final list, but head coach Eddie Jones has selected the 23-year-old alongside Piers Francis in the midfield to face Italy in what the head coach has termed "a mix-and-match selection policy".

Ruaridh McConnochie, who was the only uncapped player named in the World Cup squad, will make his debut on the wing for a team that will be captained by Owen Farrell and will once again feature Billy Vunipola.

Marchant's previous two appearances - against Wales last month and Ireland two weeks ago - have both come from the bench.

His inclusion raises doubts about the long-term fitness of Jonathan Joseph, who pulled out of the Ireland game with muscle soreness, and Henry Slade, who has not featured in any of the World Cup warm-up games due to a knee injury.

"We are delighted to be playing against Italy, one of our traditional Six Nations rivals and the game for us is another important step to develop our game fitness and game strategy," Jones said in quotes published on England's website.

"We have gone with a mix-and-match selection policy to develop our adaptability and the team’s ability to cope with any situation."

 

England: Anthony Watson, Ruaridh McConnochie, Joe Marchant, Piers Francis, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs, Joe Marler, Jamie George, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Mark Wilson, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Kyle Sinckler, Charlie Ewels, Matt Kvesic, Willi Heinz, George Ford, Joe Cokanasiga.

Wallabies veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau has announced he will retire from Tests at the end of the year.

Polota-Nau, 34, is set to make his 90th appearance for Australia against Samoa in Parramatta on Saturday.

It could be his last game for the Wallabies, the Leicester Tigers hooker having only been named on standby for the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

"It is [special] because the west has given me the opportunity to take rugby with both hands and go for it," Polota-Nau said on Wednesday.

"If it wasn't for Parramatta Two Blues picking up the skill set I possessed back in schoolboys days, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to don the green and gold.

"It's a privilege really to wear the Wallabies jersey.

"It's another opportunity to wear the gold jersey, most likely for the last time, and it's been a hell of a journey and I have been incredibly fortunate to wear the jersey every time."

Polota-Nau joins fellow Wallaby Sekope Kepu in announcing his retirement from Tests this week.

Johnny Sexton felt he was "blessed" after it was confirmed a thumb injury would not keep him out of Ireland's Rugby World Cup squad.

Sexton has not featured for Ireland this season but is likely to feature against Wales in their final warm-up match on Saturday.

The 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year had been struggling with a thumb injury over recent weeks, but Joe Schmidt included him in the squad for Ireland's World Cup campaign, which begins against Scotland on September 22.

Sexton has confirmed he sustained the injury during a training game and, after a month in a splint, his thumb has healed sufficiently enough for him to be able to make his 84th appearance for Ireland on Saturday, before heading to Japan.

"It’s all good, it was just an unfortunate injury really," Sexton told RTE.

"[I was] playing touch rugby, fitness games and got my hand caught in between someone's legs and I dislocated my thumb.

"Look, I was blessed that it ended up being fine. It was four weeks in a splint and then looking after it, then get out and get comfortable with the ball again and reintroduce the contact.

"Yeah, it could have been a hell of a lot worse. It could have been one of them nightmare scenarios where you have to get an operation and then you are struggling to play any rugby before you go."

Though Sexton acknowledged it was difficult to cope with the thought of possibly missing out on the World Cup, the 34-year-old said the injury did enable him to focus on other areas in order to boost his fitness.

"I did a lot of extra running sessions and conditioning, which is good for me. It's been a long time since I got a long block," Sexton said.

"Sometimes after Lions tours you get a few weeks and then you are back into it and then the next season you are looking after injuries [so] it was good to get an extended pre-season really.

"Hopefully I’ll see the benefits of it on Saturday if I get out there. That first match back is always a shock to the system so I'm nervous about that but looking forward to it as well."

Stuart McInally will captain Scotland at the Rugby World Cup but there is no place for Huw Jones in the 31-man squad.

Edinburgh hooker McInally was confirmed in the role on Tuesday by coach Gregor Townsend, who has selected 12 players from Glasgow Warriors for the tournament in Japan.

However, Warriors centre Jones failed to make the cut for one of the midfield spots, with Northampton's Rory Hutchinson also missing out.

Peter Horne and Chris Harris have instead been chosen alongside expected first-choice pairing Sam Johnson and Duncan Taylor, while Adam Hastings will provide cover for fellow fly-half Finn Russell.

John Barclay - the most-capped player in the squad with 74 international appearances - will be involved in a third World Cup campaign, having also featured at the 2007 and 2011 editions.

"We're delighted with the squad and believe we've picked a group capable of playing our best rugby and doing this consistently throughout the tournament," said Townsend, who announced his final list of players at an outdoor ceremony held at a rainy Linlithgow Palace.

"The players have worked hard to be in the best physical shape of their careers and we know that when they play to their potential they are capable of beating any team in the world."

On selecting McInally for the captaincy, Townsend revealed: "Stuart has done a really good job in the opportunities he's had to captain Scotland.

"We have a number of leaders in our squad and it was great to see them work well together out in Georgia last week."

Scotland open their Pool A campaign against Six Nations rivals Ireland in Yokohama on September 22. Host nation Japan, Russia and Samoa are also in the same group.

 

Scotland Rugby World Cup squad in full:

Forwards: John Barclay, Simon Berghan, Fraser Brown, Scott Cummings, Allan Dell, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Stuart McInally (captain), Willem Nel, Gordon Reid, Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thomson, Ben Toolis, George Turner, Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson.

Backs: Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg, George Horne, Pete Horne, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, Greig Laidlaw, Sean Maitland, Ali Price, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor.

Rassie Erasmus is adamant South Africa will not underestimate Japan again on Friday after naming arguably his strongest XV for the Springboks' final Rugby World Cup warm-up match.

Captain Siya Kolisi, fit again following a knee injury, is the only man included in the starting line-up who did not feature in the 16-16 Rugby Championship draw with New Zealand in July.

An experimental team beat Argentina 24-18 in the Springboks' most recent game but Erasmus has rolled out his big guns in South Africa's final fixture before they face the All Blacks again in their World Cup opener.

Pieter-Steph du Toit will make his 50th Test appearance in the back row alongside Kolisi, with Erasmus mindful about taking World Cup hosts Japan seriously after they pulled off a stunning 34-32 win when the two teams last met four years ago.

"I hope this selection will send a strong message that we have the utmost respect for Japan," Erasmus told reporters.

"Perhaps we made the mistake of complacency against them in the past but we've been hammering the message all week that we should never do that again against Japan.

"They're a smart team of great athletes, playing at home, having won a title in the past month and now desperate to prove something. This Test is as big a challenge as any we've had this season.

"They made a movie about the last time they played us - it's our job to make sure there's no sequel."


South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel.

Felix Lambey and Dany Priso have been cut from France's final Rugby World Cup squad.

Lyon lock Lambey and La Rochelle prop Priso were part of an original 31-man selection named by head coach Jacques Brunel in June, well in advance of next Monday's deadline for squad announcements.

However, their places have now been taken by Charles Ollivon of Toulon and Cyril Baille, the Toulouse prop who was not even among Brunel's initial reserve list but then earned a call-up to replace the injured Etienne Falgoux.

Francois Cros, Anthony Belleau and Vincent Rattez miss out on a trip to Japan having been among the six reserves named in June. Cros was thought to be a particularly strong contender to make the cut.

There is also no place for Romain Taofifenua, who was called up when Paul Willemse was forced off the reserve list due to injury.

The only other change from Brunel's June squad - which saw the likes of Mathieu Bastareaud and Morgan Parra omitted - was confirmed last month, when Geoffrey Doumayrou was ruled out and replaced by Virimi Vakatawa.

France, who beat Italy 47-19 at the weekend, are in Pool C at the World Cup, along with England, Argentina, the United States and Tonga.

Les Bleus' first match in Japan is a potentially pivotal meeting with Argentina in Tokyo on September 21.

 

France squad for the Rugby World Cup:

Forwards: Guilhem Guirado (captain), Gregory Alldritt, Cyril Baille, Demba Bamba, Yacouba Camara, Camille Chat, Paul Gabrillagues, Arthur Iturria, Wenceslas Lauret, Bernard Le Roux, Peato Mauvaka, Charles Ollivon, Louis Picamoles, Jefferson Poirot, Emerick Setiano, Rabah Slimani, Sebastien Vahaamahina.

Backs: Antoine Dupont, Gael Fickou, Wesley Fofana, Sofiane Guitoune, Yoann Huget, Camille Lopez, Maxime Machenaud, Maxime Medard, Romain Ntamack, Damian Penaud, Alivereti Raka, Thomas Ramos, Baptiste Serin, Virimi Vakatawa.

Mamuka Gorgodze will make a stunning return to Georgia's squad for the Rugby World Cup, more than two years after announcing his retirement from international rugby.

The iconic Toulon back-row forward - arguably the finest player in Georgia's history - called time on his career with the national team in May 2017, specifically citing the fact he did not believe he would be capable of shining at the 2019 World Cup.

However, after head coach Milton Haig saw his options limited by injuries, Gorgodze, 35, has agreed to reverse his retirement.

Gorgodze and Davit Kacharava will each play at their fourth World Cups, but injury has denied Merab Kvirikashvili a fifth appearance at the showpiece.

At the other end of the experience scale is 19-year-old hooker Vano Karkadze, one of 13 players heading to the World Cup for the first time.

Georgia open their campaign against Wales on September 23 before further pool games against Uruguay, Fiji and Australia.

 

Georgia squad for the Rugby World Cup

Forwards: Jaba Bregvadze, Levan Chilachava, Beka Gigashvili, Otar Giorgadze, Guram Gogichashvili, Beka Gorgadze, Mamuka Gorgodze, Vano Karkadze, Lasha Lomidze, Shalva Mamukashvili, Giorgi Melikidze, Kote Mikautadze, Mikheil Nariashvili, Giorgi Nemsadze, Beka Saghinadze, Shalva Sutiashvili, Giorgi Tkhilaishvili.

Backs: Tedo Abzhandadze, Gela Aprasidze, Giorgi Begadze, Zurab Dzneladze, Davit Katcharava, Lasha Khmaladze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Vasil Lobzhanidze, Lasha Malaghuradze, Soso Matiashvili, Mirian Modebadze, Tamaz Mtchedlidze, Merab Sharikadze, Sandro Todua. 

Devin Toner has missed out on Ireland's 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.

Toner has been a regular since Schmidt took charge in 2013, but the 33-year-old will not travel to Japan.

South Africa-born second row Jean Kleyn, who only recently qualified to play for Ireland under the residency rule, has made the cut and the Munster man is one of 19 World Cup debutants in coach Joe Schmidt's selection.

Rory Best, set to feature at his fourth and final World Cup before retirement, captains the squad, with Sean Cronin, Keith Earls, Cian Healy, Rob Kearney, Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton having also appeared at the showpiece event in 2011 and 2015.

Luke McGrath has overcome competition from Kieran Marmion to take the second scrum-half spot, behind first-choice Conor Murray.

"It was a difficult thing right from the start to have the 45 that we had," said Schmidt, whose side sit second in the world rankings after their win over Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

"We went down to 40 players and to go from 40 down to 31 was really difficult, but we had a process whereby we looked back through every training, looked through the games.  

"There were some guys who obviously had more experience and probably had more credit in the bank and were more established, and there were other guys who were trying to force their way into group and trying to get a balance of current form versus previous performance, it's always a very difficult conundrum to try to solve."

Ireland start their tournament against Scotland at the Yokohama Stadium in Tokyo on September 22.

Ireland's Rugby World Cup squad in full:

Forwards: Rory Best, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Dave Kilcoyne, Iain Henderson, Jean Kleyn, Peter O'Mahony, Andrew Porter, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier.

Backs: Bundee Aki, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Luke McGrath, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Jonathan Sexton, Jacob Stockdale.

Sekope Kepu will call time on his Australia career following the Rugby World Cup.

Kepu became the first prop to play 100 Tests for Australia last year, having made his Wallabies debut in 2008.

The 33-year-old Waratahs front rower will join London Irish after the World Cup, which he confirmed on Monday will be his final international tournament.

Saturday's Test against Samoa – against whom Kepu made his first start for Australia in 2011 – will be his final home match.

"I'll let my wife contact all the friends and relatives that want to come along to the game but it will just be a great day to play against Samoa. It's going to be a hell of a week and I'm definitely looking forward to it," Kepu told the Wallabies' official website.

"I never thought I would have achieved that milestone [100 Tests] and to have done so, it's something that makes me feel very privileged and fortunate.

"There's guys pushing for spots everywhere now. We have quality depth in Australian rugby and I'll be looking from afar and just excited about what we have."

While Kepu will travel to Japan, Jack Maddocks and Rob Valetini did not make the cut, though the duo have been included in Michael Chieka's extended squad for the Samoa match.

Nick Phipps, Joe Powell, Liam Wright, Tom Banks, Luke Jones and Tatafu Polota-Nau could also feature on Saturday, despite not making the travelling party.

Brian O'Driscoll feels England have "all the attributes" to win a Rugby World Cup, making Eddie Jones' side a "huge threat" in Japan.

England have one World Cup warm-up match remaining against Italy at Newcastle's St James' Park this week, having impressed in recent weeks with home victories over Wales and Ireland.

The defeat of Ireland was particularly striking, with Jones' men running up a record margin of victory over one of the world's best sides.

Manu Tuilagi, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola all starred in that victory and retired Ireland great O'Driscoll, who played at four World Cups, was impressed.

"I feel as if England are in a phenomenal position at the moment," O'Driscoll, a Land Rover ambassador, told Omnisport. "They are playing great stuff, they've got all their main players fit and in rude health, they're trying different combinations.

"If they can go into it with a limited injury list off the back of the final game against Italy, I think they are really humming at the moment and they'll be a very, very difficult team to beat.

"They look fit, they look strong, powerful, good variety to their game.

"I think they've got all the attributes we've seen in other previous World Cup-winning teams if they're able to implement that on the big stage. I think they'll be a huge threat."

Jamie Heaslip, O'Driscoll's ex-Ireland team-mate, similarly sees England challenging in Japan, suggesting injuries have prevented the team from getting the credit they deserve previously.

"Ireland, England and Wales have shown their form over the last two years – particularly England in the last 12 months," said Heaslip, also a Land Rover ambassador.

"People forgot they had a lot of players who were injured. They have a very fit squad right now available for selection.

"Look at Manu Tuilagi and his impact [against Ireland]. You've got Billy Vunipola, who impacts the game at number eight, and Joe Marler and the difference he makes."

As a former number eight, Heaslip has paid particular attention to Vunipola and the balance England have been able to strike in their back row with Tom Curry and Sam Underhill.

"Billy carries unbelievably well – he's so dynamic for such a big man, he's fast, he's got really good footwork – so you need balance," he said.

"I think you saw that [against Ireland]. There was a really balanced back row. That's going to be the trick for Eddie Jones in the back row, finding that balance.

"You can't just carry the ball, you need guys who rook, guys who do some hard yard work at times, and I think England have a very vast pack to be able to do that.

"They've got some players who are really dynamic and I look at that England back row and it's pretty formidable."


Land Rover is official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019. With over 20 years of heritage supporting rugby at all levels, Land Rover is celebrating what makes rugby, rugby. #LandRoverRugby

Warren Gatland believes the quality of the players he has left out of his Wales squad shows they have the strength in depth to win the Rugby World Cup.

Gatland announced his final 31-man selection on Sunday, with Rob Evans and Samson Lee missing out while Rhys Patchell was preferred to Jarrod Evans.

The Wales coach had revealed on the eve of the squad announcement that six positions were still "up for debate" and, on Sunday, acknowledged the difficulty of the decisions he had to make.

But Gatland feels it has left Wales with a squad capable of going all the way through the tournament in Japan and building on their Six Nations Grand Slam success.

"I think it's good enough to win [the World Cup]," he said of the group, as reported by WalesOnline.

"The most difficult thing about this squad is the depth we've created over the last three or four years, so we've left out some real quality players.

"In the past when you've picked a World Cup squad, you may have been happy with 24 or 25 players and the others, making up the numbers, you're not sure about their quality.

"But this time we've left out some class players. I thought Owen Lane played well [in Saturday's warm-up against Ireland] and is definitely a player for the future.

"We've left out two experienced props and Bradley Davies, an experienced player, has been left out as well.

"Then you've got players who aren't available - someone like Rhys Webb - so the depth of the squad and the difficult decisions we've made is a sign of the preparation that's gone into the last three or four years.

"So I think we go there with a lot of belief and self-confidence."

Gatland said of Jarrod Evans, "I'm sure his time will come sometime in the future", while he explained the decision to look for more "durable" options than Rob Evans or Lee.

"Rob hasn't trained a lot in the lead up to the warm-up matches," Gatland said. "He came in with a shoulder injury, then he's picked up a neck injury and a couple of back issues. Rob hadn't played a lot.

"Samson has missed a few campaigns through injury, had a hamstring issue during the campaign. We looked at the durability of the props coming in.

"Someone like Rhys Carre has made incredible progress. He's dropped 10 kgs, I thought he did well yesterday, he's a big man. Apart from one day, where his calves were a bit tight, he hasn't missed a training session or been in the physio room.

"All the other props are also pretty durable."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.