Ireland bounced back from last week's dismal defeat to England with a much-improved display and a 22-17 win in Wales in their latest Rugby World Cup warm-up.

Jacob Stockdale scored twice in the first half to secure bragging rights for the Irish in the first match of a double-header between the sides across consecutive weekends.

The display was extremely encouraging considering what had gone before for Joe Schmidt's side, although they were kept off the top of the rankings, having needed a 15-point victory against the world's number one side.

A late flourish from Wales in Warren Gatland's final home match could not quite complete a comeback.

Ireland's improvement was evident from the off and Jack Carty kicked the game's first points after nine minutes, although Jarrod Evans - making his first Test start - levelled the scores for Wales with a penalty in front of the posts.

Opportunities in open play were initially few and far between until a glorious weaving run from Andrew Conway created the opening try.

The winger raced away from three challenges and then unselfishly passed to Stockdale on the left to dash through.

And Stockdale had his second before the break as he preyed on a loose Wales pass and toed the ball clear of the recovering red shirts to dart across the line.

Wales enjoyed a better spell immediately after half-time but were soon on the back foot again and saw Leon Brown sent to the sin bin following a collapsed scrum as Ireland piled on the pressure.

A blatant forward pass denied Conway a try on the right, yet there was no let-up and Rory Best helped drive Wales back to secure a penalty try following a series of re-set scrums.

The home side belatedly got a breakthrough try with some lovely footwork from Owen Lane, with Ireland then suddenly hanging on as Elliot Dee lunged just short of the try-line.

Bundee Aki's challenge on an airborne James Davies meant Garry Ringrose's counter-attacking score was struck off, and Rhys Patchell's impressive late try could not rescue a Welsh result.

France gave coach Jacques Brunel plenty of food for thought ahead of the Rugby World Cup as they thumped Italy 47-19 in Paris on Friday.

A seven-try show from the home side masked disappointing spells in the game for France, who do not yet look like a side that could challenge for glory at the global tournament in Japan.

Brunel's starting XV for the Stade de France clash showed nine changes in personnel from the side beaten in their previous game by Scotland, as they chased an eighth straight win in their rivalry with Italy.

Maxime Medard fed Yoann Huget to score France's opening try in just the third minute, but Les Bleus put themselves in trouble when they lost their early composure and had both Louis Picamoles and Rabah Slimani sin-binned in quick succession.

Mattia Bellini crossed as Italy took advantage, and Tommaso Allan added the extras to put the visitors in front, albeit still early in the contest.

Italy were the next to be penalised, with Bellini yellow-carded for hauling down Huget off the ball. France were handed a penalty try, and it was briefly a game of 13 players against 14.

Camille Chat grounded the ball for another France try shortly after the half-hour mark, and they led 19-7 at half-time.

Scrum-half Antoine Dupont was next to cross, threading his way through to the line, and France were rampant early in the second half as Arthur Iturria barrelled over for another, his first for the team.

Jake Polledri replied for Italy only for Wenceslas Lauret to counter for France as the tries kept coming, the hosts going 40-14 up by the hour.

Bellini narrowed the gap, but it was France's night and their seventh and final try arrived when Thomas Ramos spotted a gap and darted through from a central position before diving over in the left corner.

France begin their World Cup campaign with a tricky test against Argentina on September 21. Italy, meanwhile, start against Namibia a day later.

Wales' Josh Navidi has vowed to embrace the captaincy role against Ireland on Saturday having been handed the chance to lead his country for the first time.

Ireland visit the Principality Stadium for Wales' final match on home soil before the Rugby World Cup, with head coach Warren Gatland ringing the changes.

He announced 14 alterations to his starting XV following the victory over England, with Navidi one of those coming into the team.

It caps a fine rise for the Cardiff Blues back-rower, who has only played 17 times for his country.

"It is a massive honour. I've had loads of messages from people, which is nice. My family are ecstatic as well, and it will be nice to lead the team out," Navidi said on Friday.

"Gats [Gatland] came up to me after a units session and asked me would I like to lead the team. It's something you can't turn down, really.

"I will try and keep the emotions down. It's another game of rugby, but obviously nice to lead the team out, embrace the moment and then get into it.

"I am not much of a talker, to be honest. Hopefully, I can lead from the front, and everyone else will follow.

"As a youngster I captained Bridgend Athletic, and my school. I have done it a bit with the Blues over the years too.

"Alun Wyn [Jones], I have played quite a lot with him recently, and obviously Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees at the Blues, and it's little things you pick up on through them. It just brings your game forward, and hopefully I can pass it on to others.

"But to be honest, I have never thought about it [being captain], with the leaders in the group with Wales.

"You have got Alun Wyn, Ken Owens and Jonathan Davies, who are massive figures in the team, and it's something that I've never thought I would come across - I thought just getting the red jersey is enough - so it will be nice."

Wales will face Ireland again on September 7 in Dublin for their final pre-World Cup warm-up.

Their campaign begins 16 days later, against Georgia in Toyota City.

South Africa wing Aphiwe Dyantyi is facing a long-term suspension after being formally charged with a doping violation.

Dyantyi, who last week denied taking any prohibited substances, was provisionally banned after returning an adverse finding in a test at a Springboks training on July 2 and requested for his B-sample to be tested.

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) said on Friday the B-sample indicated the presence of the same three banned anabolic steroids and metabolites: metandienone, methyltestosterone and LGD-4033.

The 25-year-old has the right to contest the charge in front of an independent disciplinary panel.

If found to have breached anti-doping regulations, the 2018 World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year could receive a four-year ban.

Speaking last week, Dyantyi maintained his innocence after being made aware of the initial test results.

"I want to deny ever taking any prohibited substance, intentionally or negligently, to enhance my performance on the field. I believe in hard work and fair play," he said in a statement.

"I have never cheated and never will. The presence of this prohibited substance in my body has come as a massive shock to me and together with my management team and experts appointed by them, we are doing everything we can to get to the source of this and to prove my innocence."

Dyantyi has played 13 Tests for South Africa since making his debut against England at Ellis Park in June 2018 but was not included in the Rugby World Cup squad.

Warren Gatland has urged his Wales players to prove their Rugby World Cup credentials against Ireland and highlighted a shoot-out for the fly-half position.

Wales have made 14 changes for their warm-up fixture against Ireland at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, with Jarrod Evans getting the nod at number 10 and Rhys Patchell among the replacements.

Owen Lane and Rhys Carre will make their Test debuts as Josh Navidi captains the side in their final match before Gatland names his 31-man squad for the tournament in Japan.

James Davies is the only survivor from the team that beat England 13-6 on August 17, while Ireland come into the game following a 57-15 thrashing at the hands of Eddie Jones' side at Twickenham on Saturday.

"There are a number of positions still up for grabs. Players are well aware of how important this game is and the opportunity they have," said Gatland.

"They're under pressure after last week's performance so it's a great challenge for us.

"They're coming here knowing they've been criticised, they'll be hurting. I couldn't ask for a better game for this group of players."

On the race to compete with Dan Biggar for the fly-half position at the World Cup, Gatland added: "Jarrod gets an opportunity. We know a little bit more about Rhys Patchell, so the pressure is on him [Evans] and he understands that fully.

"It's about coming out, starting a game and controlling a game. Rhys will get the second half and it's about him coming on and making an impression.

"The two of them are aware they'll get the chance and it's probably a shoot-out between the two of them."

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt has also rung the changes for the meeting in Cardiff, with Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony, Jacob Stockdale and Bundee Aki the only players to retain their spot.

Niall Scannell comes in for captain Rory Best, who is named among the replacements, while Johnny Sexton, Keith Earls and Robbie Henshaw miss out again.

 

Wales: Hallam Amos, Owen Lane, Scott Williams, Owen Watkin, Steff Evans, Jarrod Evans, Aled Davies; Rhys Carre, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Adam Beard, Bradley Davies, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rob Evans, Leon Brown, Jake Ball, Ross Moriarty, Tomos Williams, Rhys Patchell, Jonah Holmes.

Ireland: Will Addison, Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O'Mahony, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Rory Best, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Jordi Murphy, Luke McGrath, Garry Ringrose, Dave Kearney.

Rugby World Cup hosts Japan have named their squad for the tournament, with veteran Hiroshi Yamashita missing out but uncapped Takuya Kitade included.

Jamie Joseph announced his 31-man group for the finals on Thursday and included a number of stars of the 2015 World Cup under former boss Eddie Jones, though Yamashita was not among them.

The 33-year-old prop was one of 10 players cut from a 41-man training squad.

Yamashita went to the last World Cup in England, although he did not make it off the bench to take part in Japan's historic defeat of South Africa.

There are several familiar faces in Joseph's final list, though, with Michael Leitch again captaining the side.

Hooker Kitade is also selected, along with Pieter Labuschagne and James Moore, who are both relatively new to the squad having secured eligibility in June.

Japan play Russia in the opening game of this year's edition of the competition, on September 20. Ireland, Scotland and Samoa make up the rest of Pool A.

 

Japan's 31-man Rugby World Cup squad in full:

Forwards: Keita Inagaki, Yusuke Kizu, Jiwon Koo, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Takuya Kitade, Atsushi Sakate, Shota Horie, Luke Thompson, Wimpie van der Walt, Uwe Helu, James Moore, Hendrik Tui, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Michael Leitch, Pieter Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno, Amanaki Lelei Mafi.

Backs: Kaito Shigeno, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yutaka Nagare, Yu Tamura, Rikiya Matsuda, Kenki Fukuoka, Ataata Moeakiola, Lomano Lava Lemeki, William Tupou, Ryoto Nakamura, Timothy Lafaele, Kotaro Matsushima, Ryohei Yamanaka.

Israel Folau is claiming Rugby Australia has enforced "an unreasonable restraint of trade", according to a statement of claim lodged with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Folau, a devout Christian, had his contract terminated for a "high-level breach" after he posted "hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" on Instagram.

Rugby Australia and Folau failed to reach a settlement in June over the full-back's sacking and an unfair dismissal case began in court earlier this month.

A statement of claim published by the Federal Circuit Court showed Folau is stating his inability to play international rugby due to the termination of his contract constitutes "unreasonable restraint", referring to "public policy".

It also suggests the direction of a tribunal was "void" and there was an "absence of any valid finding".

A section of the 26-page document reads: "The decision of the tribunal that termination of the player contract was the appropriate sanction to be imposed, and its direction to that effect, has the consequence that Mr Folau can no longer play rugby union at an international level [because he is only eligible to play for the Wallabies] or an Australian team in the Super Rugby competition and is therefore an unreasonable restraint of trade, contrary to public policy, and void.

"By reason of the decision and subsequent direction of the tribunal being void and of no effect, it was a breach of the player contract for Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW to terminate the player contract in the absence of any valid finding by the tribunal."

Another part of the statement adds: "It is injurious and inimical to the public interest, and therefore against public policy, for a condition in a contract of employment to allow an employer to prohibit an employee, in their own time, from having or adopting any religion or belief, manifesting their religion or belief or imparting or sharing religious information and ideas, provided that the employee otherwise acts lawfully.

"Insofar as any term of the player contract, including any term of the code of conduct, prohibited Mr Folau, in his own time, from manifesting his religion or belief or from imparting or sharing religious information and ideas, provided he acted lawfully, the term - to the extent that it otherwise would have had such an operation and effect - was against public policy and therefore void at law and of no effect.

"In the premises, under the player contract, Mr Folau was free, in his own time, to manifest his religion or belief or to impart or share religious information and ideas, provided he acted lawfully, and as a consequence, the social media posts were not a breach of the player contract by Mr Folau."

In an open letter to Rugby Australia members in June, Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle wrote: "I want to make clear that RA has acted with complete professionalism and integrity at all times through the process by which Israel was found, by an independent three-member tribunal panel, to have made multiple, serious breaches of the professional players code of conduct.

"This is an employment matter and does not concern his religious beliefs or his ability to express them freely. If some of you follow Israel's social accounts, you will have noticed he has posted religious material freely and openly over the last few years."

The case will go to mediation in December but, if a resolution is not found, the parties could face trial in February.

Brian O'Driscoll is concerned by Ireland's form a month out from the Rugby World Cup but believes they can swiftly turn their fortunes around.

Ireland were the dominant team in world rugby in 2018, winning the Six Nations Grand Slam and defeating world champions New Zealand.

But this year has been a different story, with a humbling 57-15 reverse to England in Saturday's World Cup warm-up at Twickenham providing cause for concern.

Yet former Ireland star O'Driscoll is backing Joe Schmidt's men to respond, potentially starting with back-to-back fixtures against Wales before the tournament in Japan.

"It's concerning in that you would prefer to be playing with huge confidence," O'Driscoll, a Land Rover ambassador, told Omnisport.

"In the first warm-up games, you have a stuffy victory against Italy and then a resounding defeat to England, who just looked like a completely different level.

"Of course, I'd be concerned that the confidence appears to have taken a dent and you want to go in [to the World Cup] feeling as though you can play your best rugby or you have your best rugby in close parameters to where you're at. That doesn't seem to be the case at the moment.

"But sport can be fickle and it can turn around very, very quickly as well. We saw the All Blacks beaten badly by Australia and coming around the following week and hammering them at home, nilling them. You can turn it around.

"What I'm sure will disappoint Joe Schmidt the most is that the lads just didn't seem like the same accuracy and same levels expected of them were delivered at the weekend.

"But they have a chance this weekend of putting that right. That's the beauty of having a game the following week after a big defeat."

If Ireland can rediscover some confidence, O'Driscoll suggests recent results should not quell optimism ahead of the World Cup.

"It's happened with New Zealand for a number of World Cups, where they've peaked in between and not quite been able to manage it on the biggest stage," he said.

"That's the question with Ireland now, they've not quite delivered at a World Cup level. But that doesn't mean this time [they] can't turn that around.

"It's not ideal preparation so far, but the way the group works, playing Scotland and Japan - they're capable of winning both of those games and also the two other games [against Russia and Samoa].

"Finish top of the group and you have the game of your life against New Zealand or South Africa - win that and you're in a semi-final.

"That really simplifies it, but any team will tell you, get to a semi-final and of course you're capable of winning a World Cup. You're one game away from playing in a World Cup final."

 

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Jamie Heaslip is confident Rory Best is the right man to lead Ireland and will prove his worth as the pressure builds heading into the Rugby World Cup.

Captain Best's role has come under scrutiny this year as Ireland have failed to build on an outstanding 2018 in which they won the Six Nations Grand Slam and then defeated world champions New Zealand.

Joe Schmidt's men finished third in the 2019 Six Nations and then, in last week's World Cup warm-up, crashed to a record loss against England.

But 95-cap former Ireland international Heaslip, who played with Best, is confident the skipper will take the right approach following that reverse, calmly rallying the side as they face Wales in consecutive weeks before travelling to the tournament in Japan.

Best has confirmed he will retire from professional rugby following the World Cup.

"Rory's come in for a lot of criticism, particularly over the last week," Heaslip, a Land Rover ambassador, told Omnisport.

"But you look back at his tenure now – I think it's three years he's been captain – and the success of that team while he's been at the helm.

"Ireland have beaten every Tier 1 nation in the last two years. That type of consistency shows the leadership he's obviously showing day in day out in that camp.

"He would have been disappointed with his own performance last week and will be very eager to get another opportunity – just like every other player in that matchday squad from last week – to showcase what he can do on the field.

"And I would imagine his leadership qualities are coming out in full force this week, in terms of being up against it and the performance not being good enough.

"They were exploited by the other team, the pressure is starting to pile up, and it takes a really calm, level-headed person – just like Rory is – to this week get the players together and focus on the new task.

"He will captain them in that way. That's where Rory will show his real value to the team."

Heaslip is not overly concerned by the team's form either, with the exception of a "one-off" against England, and believes performance levels are not too far from where they were last year.

"I think they're in the exact same position [as in 2018], if I'm honest," he said. "Less than 12 months ago, everyone was saying these guys were going to win the World Cup after beating New Zealand.

"If you actually look at the games, the margin of winning and losing is so fine.

"You look at the first game of 2018, straight out of the gate, they don't score any tries, kick all the points, France score a try against them, and if it wasn't for a 41-phase drop goal effort from the halfway line – you couldn't write this stuff – they don't win the Six Nations, they don't win the Grand Slam.

"In 2019, you could say the same thing where the margin for the opposition to win the game is not that big. The margin for losing at international level is so fine.

"I think Ireland have actually been very consistent over the last 18 months, two years, the past World Cup cycle even. I think they're in exactly the same position. They're a bloody good team."

 

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England prop Mako Vunipola will be sidelined for around 10 days with minor hamstring complaint.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed Vunipola sustained "a small tear of scar tissue" while featuring as a second-half replacement during Saturday's 57-15 win over Ireland at Twickenham.

News of a small setback comes as a relative boost to England coach Eddie Jones after the Saracens front row was ruled out for three months with a hamstring injury in May – the Ireland game marking his return to action.

Exeter Chiefs' Ben Moon will join up with the squad at their training base in Treviso as a temporary replacement.

Moon's club team-mate Jack Nowell could miss the Rugby World Cup as he battles to overcome an ankle problem

Nowell has not featured in any of England's three warm-up Tests to date and was named in the 31-man squad despite suffering his injury during the Premiership final defeat to Saracens in June.

"I think he's going to be touch and go for involvement in the World Cup," Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon.

"But let's cross our fingers and hope that he can come through."

England play their final warm-up game against Italy at St James' Park next Friday before heading to Japan two days later on September 8.

Jones' men begin their World Cup campaign against Tonga on September 22.

France coach Jacques Brunel admits he still has decisions to make on his Rugby World Cup squad as the final announcement looms on Monday.

Brunel initially named a young group of 31 plus six reserves on June 18, more than three months before the start of the tournament in Japan, leaving out Mathieu Bastareaud and Morgan Parra entirely.

But having since worked with the extended squad of 37 and made various changes for injuries, while beating Scotland at home and losing away in back-to-back warm-up matches, Brunel is still pondering his options.

Les Bleus host Italy on Friday in their final match before heading to Japan, where they begin their campaign with a tricky test against Argentina on September 21.

Brunel said on Wednesday: "I do not have the 31 for the World Cup yet. We will see this weekend what will happen.

"There are still players who are very close to each other. There are uncertainties. I also hope we will not have any injuries after the match against Italy. I will take everything into account."

The coach revealed his main issue will be selecting players for the back row, with Charles Ollivon and Francois Cros - two reserves - both impressing.

"This is obviously the thorniest area. We have seven players for five places," Brunel said. "This is where it's going to be the most complicated.

"There will be painful choices to make, difficult, like every World Cup. This is a very special moment, we will have to do it, we will see according to what will happen during this last match.

"I do not have a fixed idea. [Louis] Picamoles plays big, like [Wenceslas] Lauret and [Yacouba] Camara. There is competition to start.

"There were two substitute players, namely Ollivon and Cros, who they showed that they wanted to compete for a place in the World Cup. It is up to the three starters against Italy to show that they have a role to play."

Paul Gabrillagues looks as though he will make the squad after World Rugby reduced his ban for an incident against Scotland from six to three matches following appeal.

"Paul has the opportunity to be on the list for the World Cup," Brunel said. "Yes, he will not be able to play the first match against Argentina.

"It is a handicap, but it is not insurmountable. The six-week sanction ruled him out entirely."

 

France XV to face Italy: Maxime Medard, Yoann Huget, Sofiane Guitoune, Wesley Fofana, Gael Fickou, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Jefferson Poirot (captain), Camille Chat, Rabah Slimani, Arthur Iturria, Romain Taofifenua, Wenceslas Lauret, Yacouba Camara, Louis Picamoles.

Replacements: Guilhem Guirado, Cyril Baille, Emerick Setiano, Felix Lambey, Francois Cros, Baptiste Serin, Virimi Vakatawa, Thomas Ramos.

Steve Hansen acknowledges New Zealand "rolled the dice" with the selection of Brodie Retallick in their Rugby World Cup squad as he will not be fit for the pool stage.

Retallick dislocated his shoulder in the All Blacks' Rugby Championship draw against South Africa last month, but he has been named in the 31-man group to travel to Japan.

Hansen, explaining his selection on Wednesday, admitted Retallick is unlikely to feature for the defending champions until the knockout stages.

"The update is his shoulder is still sore. We don't expect him to play in the round robin," he said, with his side set to face the Springboks, Italy, Namibia and Canada in Pool B. 

"But we're reasonably sure that – no disrespect to anyone else in our pool – we should make the quarter-finals. From there, we don't know.

"So, at this point, we've rolled the dice to take him for that quarter-final, and we'll see what happens from there.

"We think he's worthy of that risk. He's a quality player – and he'll add plenty to us off the park, as well."

Meanwhile, Liam Squire was not named in the squad, having previously made himself unavailable for international duty.

Hansen insisted it was a joint decision with Squire, who is leaving New Zealand at the end of the season to join Japanese club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, but the 28-year-old could yet join the group as a replacement.

"We had a phone call, a really good phonecall actually, and discussed things," he said.

"While Liam is playing really well for Tasman and enjoying his rugby, at the end of that conversation, it was agreed that he would make himself available if required as a replacement."

Owen Franks was surprisingly left out of the All Blacks' 31-man Rugby World Cup squad on Wednesday.

Franks has made 108 Test appearances for New Zealand, but the 31-year-old was overlooked for the showpiece tournament beginning in Japan next month.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said it was tough for the two-time defending champions to leave Franks out.

"He is one of the great All Blacks, he's played over 100 Tests, but unfortunately we believe the game requires us to have big mobile one and threes and in this case we think the other guys are more so," he told a news conference.

"It was a tough decision."

There was also no room in the squad for Ngani Laumape, who has scored eight tries in 13 matches for the All Blacks.

Kieran Read will again captain the All Blacks as he heads to his third World Cup along with Sam Whitelock and Sonny Bill Williams.

Of the 31-man squad, 19 players are set for their first World Cup appearances.

"The All Blacks selectors would like to congratulate all those selected for Rugby World Cup 2019," Hansen said.

"It's a special moment being named in any All Blacks squad but especially when it's the Rugby World Cup and they and their families can be incredibly proud of what they've achieved.

"As always, we'd also like to take a moment to respect the effort and disappointment of those who've missed out. It's a tough time in anyone's career.

"The selectors wanted to point out that it wasn't a case of anyone not being good enough to be selected, but more the fact that we can only take 31, so there was always going to be some very talented athletes that would miss out.

"Having said that, as we know from previous Rugby World Cups and other campaigns, we may have injuries so those players who missed out may get an opportunity."

The All Blacks will open their Pool B campaign against South Africa on September 21 before facing Canada, Namibia and Italy.

 

New Zealand's 31-man Rugby World Cup squad in full:

Forwards: Scott Barrett, Sam Cane, Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Luke Jacobson, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Kieran Read, Brodie Retallick, Ardie Savea, Angus Ta'avao, Codie Taylor, Matt Todd, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tuungafasi, Samuel Whitelock.

Backs: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Richie Mo'unga, TJ Perenara, Sevu Reece, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Brad Weber, Sonny Bill Williams.

Sam Skinner will miss the Rugby World Cup following a hamstring injury, with Scotland calling up Tim Swinson to train with the squad.

Skinner sustained the issue in Saturday's 17-14 win over France at Murrayfield as Scotland continued their preparations before heading to Japan.

Scans later the same day revealed an injury and projected recovery time meaning he would be unable "to play a meaningful part" at the World Cup, Scotland revealed on Tuesday.

Glasgow Warriors forward Swinson, who has 38 caps for his country, will provide training cover in Skinner's absence.

Tommy Seymour and Blade Thomson were also forced off in Scotland's victory at the weekend.

Eben Etzebeth was included in South Africa's Rugby World Cup squad on Monday after denying physical or racial abuse in an alleged incident in Langebaan.

The Springbok group was cut from 32 players to 31 for the upcoming finals and the squad reveal had threatened to be marred by social media allegations of an incident involving the lock.

However, responding to the reports, Etzebeth provided a categorical denial - and the South African Rugby United (SARU) insisted it will stand by its man unless further informed by authorities.

"It is completely untrue and unfounded to claim that I physically or racially abused anyone in Langebaan as has been reported on social media," he posted on Facebook. "Multiple witnesses can corroborate that.

"I am and will always strive to be a true ambassador to this beautiful rainbow nation and the sport that I love."

A SARU statement read: "The South African Rugby Union is a law-abiding member of South African society and has no tolerance of acts of violence or racial abuse.

"We will co-operate with the authorities in any way necessary. Our Rugby World Cup squad will have no place for anyone who transgresses those principles.

"But we also trust our people to act responsibly and tell the truth. We have spoken to Eben and he categorically denies any physical or racial abuse on his part as has been alleged in social media.

"He is a member of the Springbok squad and will remain so unless police authorities require our reconsideration."

Erasmus said: "I am very happy with the squad we have been able to select. We have been developing this squad since the start of last season and, in the 31, we have a good balance of established experience and some exciting youth.

"We set out with the goal of growing the depth of the squad and I am confident that any of this 31 can step into a play-off match at the Rugby World Cup and deliver an outstanding performance."

Rugby Championship winners South Africa begin their World Cup campaign against defending champions New Zealand in Pool B on September 21.

 

South Africa squad in full:

Forwards: Schalk Brits, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Kwagga Smith, RG Snyman, Duane Vermeulen.

Backs: Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Faf de Klerk, Warrick Gelant, Elton Jantjies, Herschel Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, S'bu Nkosi, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Frans Steyn.

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