Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies says he is enjoying his rugby again during a World Cup campaign that has seen him produce record-breaking form.

Davies’ early touchdown in the 40-6 rout of Australia set a new World Cup best of eight tries for a scrum-half.

And it represents an impressive return to international rugby after he missed out on Wales’ South Africa tour last year, the 2022 autumn Tests and Six Nations campaign two months later.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland’s predecessor Wayne Pivac preferred players like Tomos Williams, Kieran Hardy and Dane Blacker in the scrum-half position.

And although Gatland was in charge for last season’s Six Nations, Williams, Hardy and Rhys Webb fought for the number nine shirt.

Crucially, though, a door opened for the 33-year-old when Gatland named Davies in the World Cup training squad, and he has not looked back.

He starred in the tournament warm-up victory over England and regained the number nine shirt for key Pool C wins against Fiji and Australia

“I love World Cups,” Davies said. “I love the build-up to them.

“It is the only time that we really get a full pre-season (with Wales). It has been a tough couple of months, but I have enjoyed it.

“Physically and mentally, I feel like I am in the best shape of my life. I am really enjoying my rugby again.

“We are all back to where we want to be under this management. We are fighting for each other, playing for each other and the environment is good, which is the main thing.

“We are enjoying our time off the pitch as well. We’ve got a good bunch of boys, and it shows.”

Davies, who made his Wales debut nine years ago and was the team’s starting scrum-half during the 2015 and 2019 tournaments, is once again excelling under Gatland’s direction.

He scored five tries at the 2015 World Cup, then two more in Japan four years later – including an interception effort in a pool-stage win against Australia.

“Warren has got his way,” Davies added. “It works for me and it obviously works for everyone else in the squad. It gets us all going.

“The other coaches as well, Mike (Forshaw) with defence, Kingy (Alex King) in attack and Humphs (Jonathan Humphreys) with the forwards. We’ve had a lot of changes with coaches, and I think that’s made the difference, to be honest.”

Wales’ crushing success against Australia secured a quarter-final place – the fourth World Cup in a row for them to achieve that under Gatland – and has set up a potential last-eight appointment with Argentina in Marseille on October 14.

“I thought our win in 2019 against Australia in the World Cup was big, but this is right up there,” Davies said.

“Momentum is key, especially in World Cups. We had a good week’s training preparing for the game, and I thought it showed on the pitch.

“We obviously won’t look too far ahead of ourselves. We have got a few days off to recover, and then we will focus on Georgia the following weekend.

“We have still got a job to do against them first, and then we will start looking at the quarter-final draw.”

Tom Curry has been pushing himself through a punishing training regime to ensure he is ready to face Samoa in England’s final World Cup group match.

Curry has played less than three minutes of the tournament in France after being sent off in the opener for a dangerous tackle against Argentina, resulting in a two-match suspension.

It continued his challenging start to the Steve Borthwick era, having missed the entire Six Nations and build-up campaign to the World Cup because of injury.

Now poised to make his comeback against Samoa on October 7, the squad’s most influential player in defence has been defying the instructions of England’s fitness guru Aled Walters to perfect his conditioning.

“Tom is a unique player in that I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone so fit, or so willing to work hard and put himself through pain,” scrum coach Tom Harrison said.

“He just seems to be able to enjoy it and keep going. There was a conditioning session the other day where he finished his reps and Aled Walters was shouting at him, ‘Get out, get out’. And he just carried on running.

“He just stayed in and carried on running. And when he did finally decide it was time for time for him to get out, he left the drill and Ellis Genge started hammering him for leaving the drill! And you just saw him getting so angry about it!

“He is in phenomenal shape. He has been brilliant. Unfortunately he was suspended, but he was brilliant by not going, ‘Oh I’m suspended for these two games’. Instead he went, ‘How can I help England win?’.

“And the work he was doing to help make training hard and difficult for the guys playing, and also the work he was doing with the back rows, to add his experience and his knowledge to our team meetings has been exceptional.”

Ireland fly-half Jack Crowley joked about spending his well-earned days off in Disneyland following the fairytale of sealing his country’s statement Rugby World Cup win against South Africa.

Test rookie Crowley capped a thrilling 13-8 victory over the reigning champions by calmly slotting a crucial late penalty after stepping off the bench to replace captain Johnny Sexton at Stade de France.

The 23-year-old was visiting Paris for the first time and had the chance to remain in the French capital for a brief escape from reality ahead of a turning his attention to a pivotal Pool B finale against Scotland on October 7.

Crowley, who expects the Scots to be “gunning” for Ireland, could not resist a light-hearted quip at the expense of his diminutive team-mate Craig Casey and some of the senior members of Andy Farrell’s squad, including 38-year-old Sexton, as he humorously imagined a group theme park visit.

“We have a few days off to recover because it has been a few intense weeks,” he said.

“(I’m going to) take it easy. Disneyland Paris! We have to get a pass for Craig though. There’s a few old-age pensioners as well. Yeah, maybe Disneyland, we’ll see.

“We go back in on Wednesday and the preparation begins for Scotland.

“I suppose they are going to grow throughout the competition, aren’t they?

“We have come against them in the Six Nations and they have been one the toughest competitors because of the way they play.

“Our eyes are firmly on them. I’m sure they will be gunning for us.”

Ireland led South Africa by just two points for the majority of a tense final quarter of Saturday’s epic encounter.

In front of massive Irish support, Crowley nailed a nerveless 77th-minute kick on the occasion of his eighth cap to alleviate mounting pressure before a heroic defensive effort secured success.

The Munster player revealed team-mate James Lowe was audibly counting down the seconds on the shot clock ahead of the conversion to eat into the time the Springboks would have to hit back.

He described the physicality of a bruising contest as “through the walls”, while playing down his “nice easy penalty” on an evening when the opposition’s wayward goal-kicking proved costly.

Speaking of his key contribution, which came four seconds inside the permitted time, Crowley said: “(It was) pretty special.

“When you’re sitting on the bench looking up at the clock as the time is dwindling away, you see the magnitude grow larger.

“It was a proper Test match. The physicality was through the walls.

“When you’re coming on you’ve got to know the magnitude of the game and the responsibility.

“I got a nice easy penalty in front of the posts. If I’d missed that I think you’d be saying a different story to me. But that’s the gig.”

While Ireland have a weekend off, South Africa face Tonga on Sunday with work to do.

Crowley suggested the world’s top two teams could meet again in the final at the end of next month.

“They’re a World Cup-winning side because they disrupt team’s plans,” he said.

“They play rugby the way they want to play and that’s how they won a World Cup just by doing that.

“We knew since we played them in November last year (a 19-16 win for Ireland) just what a challenge this was going to be.

“You’ve got to trust your plan and as a coaching staff and players we all bought into it and thankfully in the end we got the result but it’s not easy.

“And I’m sure we won’t see the last of them in the competition.”

Jeremie Boga’s stoppage-time goal earned Nice a 1-0 victory over Monaco in Ligue 1.

Boga fired home in the first minute of six added on in the battle of the two previously unbeaten sides, moving above their opponents at the top of the early standings before the rest of the weekend’s action.

Inaki Williams scored one and set up the other as Athletic Bilbao won 2-0 away to Alaves in LaLiga.

Williams opened the scoring in the 18th minute after being teed up by Mikel Vesga, and then turned provider for Oihan Sancet to make sure of the points 14 minutes from time.

Lecce continued their strong start to the Serie A season as they edged out the 10 men of Genoa 1-0 on Friday night.

Remi Oudin got the winning goal seven minutes from time with a left-footed strike from outside the area.

By then, Genoa had played more than half the match a man down, with Aaron Martin having collected two yellow cards inside the opening 36 minutes.

Salernitana and Frosinone shared the points from a 1-1 draw, with Simone Romagnoli scoring for Frosinone 13 minutes in before Jovane Cabral levelled for the hosts early in the second half.

Stuttgart came from behind to beat Darmstadt 3-1 as Serhou Guirassy scored a brace.

The visitors led when Dan-Axel Zagadou put through his own net 17 minutes in, but Enzo Millot levelled for the hosts five minutes later.

Guirassy then completed the turnaround before half-time, adding his second of the night in the final minute.

Warren Gatland believes there will be degrees of desperation on both sides when Wales tackle Rugby World Cup rivals Australia on Sunday.

Victory for Wales would send them into a fourth successive World Cup quarter-final with one group game to spare.

Australia, meanwhile, know that defeat realistically condemns them to a pool-stage exit for the first time in World Cup history.

“It will be one hell of a game, and that will be down to not just them being desperate, but us being desperate to progress through this pool,” Wales head coach Gatland said.

“There is definitely desperation for us because a loss or no points and the group could potentially come down to points difference.

“That is the last position we want to be in. I think that, when you’ve worked so hard and made as many sacrifices as the coaches and players have made in the past four months, that creates its own desperation.

“Why give yourself a get out of jail card when you don’t need to do that? We are desperate for the right reasons.”

Wales co-captain and hooker Dewi Lake has missed out on a place in Wales’ matchday 23 for the Lyon showdown.

Gatland has named the same team that defeated Fiji 12 days ago, with Ryan Elias starting at hooker in a side skippered by flanker Jac Morgan.

Elliot Dee provides cover for Elias on the bench, while lock Adam Beard will win his 50th cap. There is also a spot among the replacements for former England prop Henry Thomas, who is on course to make his Wales World Cup debut.

Flanker Tommy Reffell, a late withdrawal due to a tight calf muscle before Wales faced Portugal last weekend, also misses out, with Taine Basham providing back-row bench cover.

“He (Lake) was disappointed. He hasn’t had a lot of rugby, he has been carrying an injury and that was probably the decision we made for that one,” Gatland added.

“I have always been a fan of Elliot Dee in terms of his lineout throwing and how he brings energy off the bench. I know Dewi was disappointed, but it doesn’t mean that he is not going to feature in further games.”

Gatland is relishing another coaching encounter with Australia head coach and former England boss Eddie Jones, who has come in for considerable criticism following the Wallabies’ 22-15 defeat against Fiji last weekend.

That result has left Australia in the last-chance saloon as they look to navigate their way out of Pool C and onwards in the competition.

“You have come to realise what to expect from an Eddie team,” Gatland said.

“With regards to the way they are going to play on Sunday, we have prepared for a couple of scenarios.

“I was surprised at their tactics against Fiji. There were 11 less minutes ball-in-play time to us (Wales against Fiji), so I am not 100 per cent sure tactically how they will come at us.

“As coaches, we all come under pressure at times – it is part of the job.

“In fairness to Eddie, he is trying to take as much pressure off the players as he can, saying he is responsible for the results and that things aren’t good enough.

“Our relationship has always been good. We have been out on a number of occasions and had meals together. I find his company good – he is engaging.

“If you look at the recent record of games between Wales and Australia, there is never much in it. They won’t lie down and roll over for us.

“What I am happy about at the moment is putting some pride back in that Welsh jersey. It doesn’t take long to lose it.

“I don’t think we had the respect of the rugby world in terms of performance and results. That has been an objective of ours over the last few months, and players have made a lot of sacrifices.”

France captain Antoine Dupont’s Rugby World Cup campaign is in doubt after he sustained a facial fracture.

Dupont, 26, suffered the injury in France’s record 96-0 win against Namibia on Thursday following a clash of heads with with Johan Deysel.

The Namibia centre’s yellow card for the collision in the 45th minute, with France leading 54-0, was upgraded to red following a review by the television match official.

The FFR confirmed the extent of Dupont’s injury on Friday, but said it was uncertain how long its star scrum-half will be unavailable for.

A statement from the FFR, quoted by Sky Sports News, read: “Antoine Dupont has suffered a maxillo-zygomatic fracture.

“A specialist surgical opinion has been requested to determine the exact length of the player’s unavailability. Antoine Dupont remains with the France squad.”

France, who have beaten New Zealand, Uruguay and Namibia so far, play Italy in their final pool match on October 6.

Les Bleus are set to face world number one side Ireland or defending champions South Africa in the quarter-finals on October 14/15.

British and Irish Lions pair Rory Sutherland and Chris Harris have been restored to the Scotland XV for Sunday’s World Cup pool B match against Tonga.

Head coach Gregor Townsend has made four changes in total to his starting line-up for the must-win encounter in Nice, with Scott Cummings and Kyle Steyn also added.

Prop Sutherland will make only his second start for the national team in 19 months after slipping down the pecking order since his involvement with the Lions two years ago. The 31-year-old takes the place of Pierre Schoeman, who drops to the bench.

Similarly, centre Harris, who also toured South Africa with the Lions in 2021, will make only his second international start of 2023 after losing his place to Huw Jones at the start of the year. Jones drops to the bench.

Wing Steyn is back in the team in place of Darcy Graham after declaring he was “absolutely gutted” to be left out of the 23 for the South Africa match.

The other change to the starting line-up sees lock Scott Cummings step in for Grant Gilchrist, who drops out of the matchday squad. Scrum-half George Horne and hooker Ewan Ashman are both on the bench after missing the 18-3 defeat against the Springboks with concussion.

England are ready to step up their experiment of playing Marcus Smith at full-back in the belief he is able to perform the fundamentals of the position.

Smith will make his first start in the number 15 jersey in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup clash with Chile having made cameo appearances off the bench in the previous four Tests, providing a lively counter-attacking threat and extra playmaking option.

On each occasion his arrival acted as a catalyst for England with the ball in hand, particularly in Sunday’s 34-12 victory over Japan.

While unlikely to oust first-choice full-back Freddie Steward, Smith has the opportunity to persuade head coach Steve Borthwick that he is a viable alternative.

Borthwick appears to have found an important role for one of the most exciting talents in English rugby and is confident that his dependability under the high ball and defence match his creative skills.

“Everyone knows Marcus’ ability with ball in hand. Everyone knows he’s got a great tactical kicking game,” Borthwick said.

“Having that ball in space at 15 gives him even more time to find opportunities and find more space.

“What we are seeing from him is that his ability under the high ball is very good and he’s a really tough, brave defender.

“You don’t want your full-back to make many tackles but when they do they are usually pretty important ones. Marcus has shown himself to bring a real intensity to his defence as well.

“Having Marcus as an option there is a great strength for us. Given the way he has come on to the field and played in the position, he deserves this opportunity.”

Owen Farrell returns from suspension to lead the team at fly-half as one of 12 changes in personnel for the clash against the lowest ranked side in Pool D at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

Borthwick has taken the opportunity to rest the bulk of his frontline stars such as stand-in skipper Courtney Lawes, full-back Freddie Steward, hooker Jamie George and centre Manu Tuilagi.

Ford is not among those rotated out, however, with England’s first-choice fly-half poised to step off the bench in the second half and be paired with Farrell in a playmaking axis for the first time since 2021.

“George Ford has been in superb form,” said Borthwick, who confirmed that Farrell remains the squad’s captain despite Lawes performing well in the role against Argentina and Japan.

“Will we see George Ford and Owen Farrell at 10 and 12? I think that could happen at some point in the game,” Borthwick said.

“They’ve been a great partnership in the past. They have been working together in training.

“They have known each other for a very, very long time and you have seen the way they can work together. There’s a great synergy between them.”

Henry Arundell makes his World Cup debut on the right wing with clear instructions from Borthwick to go hunting for the ball.

“Henry has got a special talent and ability to beat people. Henry is a very instinctive player so I talk about backing his instincts,” Borthwick said.

“If he makes a decision to go, then go. Beat people. It’s what he does so very, very well. He has added other dimensions to his game.

“His defence has really, really stepped forward, his high ball has really improved. He has been working exceptionally hard on it.

“His point of difference is his ability to beat people, so I encourage him to go and beat people.”

 Eight-time Caribbean Cup champions Trinidad and Tobago have surged inside the top 100 on the FIFA World Rankings list for the first time in almost five years following recent wins over El Salvador and Curacao.

The Soca Warriors – in the latest list published Thursday – climbed four places up to 98th from 102, a spot they held in the last rankings in July. They were last inside the FIFA top 100 at 92nd in December 2018. Based on their world position, the twin island republic remains the fourth highest rated in Caribbean Football Union (CFU).

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz jumped two places up the FIFA list to 56th and remain number in CFU ahead of Haiti at 87th world ranked and Curacao (90th). Antigua and Barbuda complete the CFU’s top five at 137th.

In the only change to the CFU’s top 10, Guyana have climbed into 10th position with a three place move to 165th in the world, as Barbados – the result of Nations League losses to Montserrat and Nicaragua – slipped out of the top 10. The fell six places on the world list from 166th to 172nd.

World champions Argentina strengthened their grip at the summit of the world rankings. The Argentines, who dethroned Brazil at the top in April, defeated Ecuador and Bolivia in their 2026 World Cup qualifiers earlier this month to improve their status.

Despite losing to Germany in a friendly last week, France retained second place, followed by Brazil (third), England (fourth) and Belgium (fifth).

England are set to to accelerate their experiment of deploying Marcus Smith’s running skills at full-back in Saturday’s World Cup clash with Chile.

Smith has filled the position as a second-half replacement in the last four Tests, adding an extra playmaker to the backline and providing a dynamic counter-attacking threat.

The Harlequins fly-half is now poised to make his first start at 15 as Steve Borthwick takes the opportunity to rotate his squad against the weakest opposition of England’s group campaign.

Owen Farrell has completed his four-match suspension for a dangerous tackle and is ready to make his first appearance since the illegal challenge against Wales on August 12.

Farrell is set to be reinstated at fly-half and resume as captain when Borthwick names his team for the Lille showdown on Thursday evening.

Additional changes will see hooker Theo Dan start and lock David Ribbans and flanker Jack Willis make their World Cup debuts as part of a revamped 23 that will enable many of England’s frontline stars to be rested.

Willis has been competing for a spot in the ultra-competitive back row, but so far Courtney Lawes, Ben Earl, Tom Curry, Lewis Ludlam and Bill Vunipola have commanded all the game-time.

Those overlooked for selection for the victories against Argentina and Japan have been forced to complete gruelling extra training sessions, but Willis insists there has been no sense of grievance among those waiting for their opportunity.

“I don’t feel we’re a group that would let that happen, I honestly don’t. There’s no resentment towards the players that are playing,” Willis said.

“We want the team to be successful. We want to get as far as we can in this tournament, no matter whether you’re starting, on the bench, travelling reserve or not involved; you want the best for the team.”

Reflecting on his own position, the 26-year-old Toulouse flanker said: “We all know how competitive the back row is.

“I don’t think anyone of us would feel aggrieved because of the quality in the back row. I think we all bring different strengths and qualities. Depending on the opposition that can change.

“I’ve got to keep my head down and keep working hard, making sure I’m in the best shape physically I can be so that when that opportunity comes I can come out the blocks.”

Making his first World Cup appearance will be the latest episode of a rollercoaster 12 months for Willis, who was forced to leave Wasps when they entered administration and then join Toulouse.

He now has a Top 14 title winners medal to his name and is ready to realise a boyhood dream.

“If and when that chance comes you end up reflecting a little bit, thinking back to the little lad who was watching World Cup matches with his dad and his brother in the front lounge and trying to realise how special it is to be pulling on that shirt and running out at a World Cup.

“Steve Borthwick did say when the squad was named that it was in the low hundreds of how many people had pulled on a World Cup jersey for England.

“Sometimes you don’t think about that, how few people get the opportunity to do it and how special it is. Just be grateful of every moment and try and maximise it.”

Ireland must be adaptable and prepared to grind out an “ugly” win against reigning world champions South Africa, according to defence coach Simon Easterby.

Andy Farrell’s men head to Paris for the standout fixture in Pool B seeking to secure a spot in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a fixture to spare.

Ireland have won 27 of their last 29 Tests after beginning the tournament with thumping bonus-point victories over Romania and Tonga and have often entertained during that remarkable run of results.

The world’s top-ranked nation will once again look to deliver their easy-on-the-eye style on Saturday evening at Stade de France.

Yet Easterby accepts that may not be possible for the full 80 minutes against a physical Springboks side sporting an intimidating seven-one split of forwards and backs among their replacements.

“We know that when we play well and we play a certain way that we’re going to be difficult to play against and difficult to beat,” he said.

“We’ll be looking to implement a lot of the stuff that you’ll have seen over the last couple of years in what we do on Saturday as we have tried to do in the Tonga and Romania games.

“We haven’t had to win ugly maybe too many times.

“It would be great if we could throw the ball around and score plenty of tries, but we know that we have to do things in the moment and make sure we’re adaptable and that might mean playing certain ways in certain parts of the game.”

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber made a statement of intent on Tuesday afternoon when announcing a stacked bench containing just one back, scrum-half Cobus Reinach.

Easterby admits the bold selection is a talking point, but does not change Ireland’s approach.

“Every team has a particular strategy and it’s up to them to believe that that strategy is the right thing for each game,” he said.

“Obviously, they believe that’s the way they need to set themselves to beat us on Saturday, just like we’ll be playing the way we want to beat South Africa.

“Listen, it’s a talking point. I don’t think it changes anything for us, to be honest.

“What will determine it in the end is hindsight, which will allow everyone to say it was the right or wrong thing to do. It’s their strategy and not something that we can control.”

Every member of Ireland’s 33-man squad has trained this week at their base in Tours.

Hooker Dan Sheehan (foot) and prop Finlay Bealham (head injury assessment) are in contention to feature against the Springboks.

But number eight Jack Conan (foot) may have to wait until the Scotland game on October 7 for his first outing since August 5.

“Everyone trained really well today,” said Easterby. “Probably Jack’s the only one that’s slightly behind in terms of being able to get himself right for this weekend.

“He’s done incredibly well, as have the medics, conditioners to get him up to speed.

“He’s actually probably on track from where we thought he’d be, so he’s done really well, happy with his progress.

“Finlay and Dan both trained really well today, so they’re back in the mix.”

Kyle Steyn has warned Scotland they must be ready to match Tonga’s physicality and passion if they are to secure the bonus-point win they require in the Rugby World Cup this weekend.

The Scots go into their second match at the tournament in Nice on Sunday knowing they have no margin for error remaining after losing their opening game to South Africa.

Gregor Townsend’s side will be hot favourites to get the result they need, but wing Steyn insisted it would be a mistake to underestimate the patriotic Tongans, who are ranked 15th in the world and looking to bounce back from a 59-16 defeat by Ireland.

“It will be a physical test, especially at a World Cup,” he said. “Tonga has a really passionate culture, they’re big on family and they really play for each other.

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“We know they’re going to be out to represent their country and their families, and that’s going to bring a lot of physicality. It’s about dealing with that and matching it.”

Having been idle last weekend, Scotland have had plenty time to reflect and regroup since their demoralising 18-3 defeat by South Africa.

Glasgow back Steyn views the Tonga match as a big opportunity for the Scots to get their World Cup up and running and restore the sense of optimism that had been building among their supporters prior to the setback against the Springboks.

“We pride ourselves on the connection we’ve managed to build with the fans and the people back home,” said the 29-year-old. “We didn’t give our best showing against South Africa so it’s important we go out there and right some of those wrongs.

“Every game is must-win for us now. We can’t look too far ahead but this weekend is big because it is the one that gives us the chance to get back on track and get the momentum rolling.”

Scotland, who have reported no fresh injuries since the South Africa game, are on course to have a full-strength squad available for Sunday’s match, with hooker Ewan Ashman and scrum-half George Horne back in contention after concussion and back-rower Luke Crosbie having overcome a rib problem.

Horne declared that, after stewing over the Springboks defeat, the players are eager to get back into action as they bid to revive their hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

“Coming off the back of a disappointing loss last week, everyone just wants to get back out there,” said the Glasgow scrum-half. “We’ve had the week to lick our wounds and everyone’s raring to get back out there and get involved in another World Cup game.”

Scotland have been staying near Nice and training at Stade Nicois’ rugby ground – less than two miles from Stade de Nice – since arriving in France at the start of September.

After their opening match took place in Marseille, they are looking forward to playing in their base city for the first time this weekend.

“We’ve got our base here in Nice and everyone’s at home now,” said Horne. “The stadium looks amazing, the atmosphere has been unbelievable in the games that have been played there already so everyone’s buzzing to get out there and play.”

David Ribbans accepts that his decision to join Toulon means he could be making his final appearances for England at this World Cup.

Former Northampton second-row Ribbans switches to the Top 14 club at the end of the tournament after signing a three-year contract that sees him join the exodus of English players heading across the Channel.

While there are greater riches available in the French league, they come a cost because Rugby Football Union eligibility rules state only those competing in the Gallagher Premiership are available for selection by Steve Borthwick.

It means that Saturday’s clash with Chile in Lille has the potential to become Ribbans’ ninth and final cap for England – a prospect with which he has made peace given the RFU will not soften its stance.

“When I signed for Toulon, the rules were in place and the rules will remain in place. So it was a decision I had to make,” Ribbans said.

“Unfortunately England will no longer be available so this will be the end of the road for now.

“I’m really looking forward to that challenge at Toulon, but for now I’m fully focused on England and being part of this World Cup and seeing how far we can go as a team.”

Of Borthwick’s 33-man World Cup squad, Jack Willis, Joe Marchant and Henry Arundell will also be playing for French clubs next season.

Ribbans knows that their availability for the Six Nations lies in hands of the RFU, which wants to keep England’s stars in the Premiership.

“That’s up to the RFU,” the 28-year-old said. “There would have to be some conversations had, but for now the rules are the way they are.”

Ribbans is set to start in the second row for England’s third Pool D encounter as Borthwick takes the opportunity to rest his front-line stars in the wake of emphatic victories over Argentina and Japan.

It will be Ribbans’ World Cup debut as he takes the next step on a professional career that began at Western Province in 2015.

“I never expected this a couple of years ago, so to come out of a small town called West Somerset in South Africa and to be playing for England has been amazing,” said Ribbans, who qualifies on ancestry grounds.

“My journey to the World Cup has been full of ups and downs but it’s exciting to be here. To be part of this England set-up is really special and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

While eager to make his first appearance in the tournament, Ribbans also appreciates the break from the arduous training sessions for non-playing squad members that are overseen by head of strength and conditioning Aled Walters.

“It’s been a tough two weeks on the sidelines for the fitness sessions! Aled puts us through our paces because we’ve got to keep up with the team,” he said.

“The players bring the hard yards on the Saturday so we’re busy chasing them and want to get our opportunity.

“We’re training hard and training has been good, but there’s always time for some downtime afterwards. But it will be good to get a run-out this weekend.”

England’s second row giants Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum have told Steve Borthwick they do not want to be rested against Chile.

Borthwick is expected to overhaul his starting XV against the weakest opposition England will face in their World Cup group campaign, taking the opportunity to give some of his stars a breather.

Itoje and Chessum have started the last three Tests together, including the Pool D victories over Argentina and Japan, and are candidates to be given the weekend off given the tougher assignments that lie ahead.

But Itoje is eager to retain his place in the starting XV – even though Chile are placed 22nd in the global rankings.

“I always want to play. I want to put my hand up for selection, I want to play for England. If there is an opportunity to play, I want to play,” Itoje said.

“You can’t take these moments for granted, you never know when the last time is that you’re going to play for England. I want to get as many caps as possible so I definitely would want to play.

“Steve has the big plan and he has to look after the whole squad, not just individuals. He is the final decision maker.”

The challenge facing Borthwick is to ensure his key personnel are battle hardened for the quarter-finals, which England have all but reached after dispatching the Pumas and Brave Blossoms.

Yet the break week each team observes at different stages during the World Cup means that after Chile their next assignment is the final group game against Samoa on October 7.

Itoje could therefore go three weeks without a game if he is omitted from the team that will be named by Borthwick on Thursday.

“A three-week break is neither here nor there. If I play – great,” Itoje said.

“When you’re not playing you do way more fitness. The guys who haven’t been in the squad have been getting flogged – so that’s motivation enough to play,” Itoje said.

“If I’m not playing I’ll be getting flogged. I’d much rather play because I don’t want to get flogged!”

Chessum, Itoje’s partner in England’s first choice engine room, is is also looking to keep his place, although the Leicester lock has a stronger case for inclusion as he is on the comeback trail from a serious ankle injury.

“You want to hold your hand up to play at every opportunity possible,” Chessum said.

“I have not played a lot of rugby at all in the last six months so I want to keep playing.

“It is not up to me, it is up to the coaches so I will hold my hand up in training this week and it is up to them, the selection process.”

Chile are expected to be overrun in Lille on Saturday but Portugal and Uruguay have already demonstrated against Wales and France in this World Cup that the minnows can cause a scare.

The tournament’s last great upset was when Japan toppled Ireland four years ago and Chessum does not want England to be the next big-name scalp.

“If you sleepwalk into games or sleepwalk into anything in this World Cup you will get caught out and exposed,” he said.

“You have seen from the games last week that there is not a big disparity between the teams – the tier-two nations have taken some of the best teams right to the wire.

“We will be firing on all cylinders in training and on the job to take the game to Chile.”

Great Britain must win a deciding doubles rubber against France to keep alive their Davis Cup hopes for this season after Cameron Norrie was beaten by Ugo Humbert in Manchester.

Dan Evans fought back from a set and a break down to see off teenage debutant Arthur Fils 3-6 6-3 6-4 to give Britain the lead in front of a 13,000 sell-out crowd at the AO Arena, a single day record for the competition in this country.

An out-of-form Norrie also battled from behind to force a deciding set against Ugo Humbert but was unable to take it, the Frenchman winning 7-6 (5) 3-6 7-5.

It will therefore come down to the final match of the week to decide who joins Australia in qualifying for the final eight event in Malaga in November.

Team selection has been one of the most intriguing aspects of this week and here it was France springing a surprise by turning to 19-year-old Fils ahead of the experienced Adrian Mannarino, against whom Evans has a great record.

Smith opted for his two highest-ranked singles players, overlooking Jack Draper, who made his own impressive debut in beating Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis on Wednesday, and Andy Murray.

Fils is the highest-ranked teenager in the world at 44 and the most exciting of a crop of young French players.

It was immediately clear this was not a comfortable match-up for the 5ft 9in Evans, who struggles to impose his finesse-based game against power hitters, and he was in deep trouble when he was broken for a second successive game at the start of the second set.

Fils had been landing everything but he played a poor game serving at 3-2 to allow Evans back into the contest and from there a combination of the crowd, smart play by the British number two and his opponent’s inexperience turned things around.

Fils managed to stay in touch in the deciding set and Evans had to come through a tense final game, leaping and punching the air before expressing annoyance at his opponent for a very perfunctory handshake.

“He’s a super nice guy,” the 33-year-old said later. “I understand it now.

“Obviously I’m a bit fired up when I was at the net as well. It’s fine, he’s a little younger than me.

“I’ve been in that situation, you just want to get off the court.

“He played very good at the start. A very unorthodox forehand.

“It took me a little while to get into it. It’s been a pretty long week. Maybe I was a tiny bit flat at the start but I got the crowd involved.

“It’s an amazing crowd today. You really helped me get through when I was a set and a break down and not feeling exactly how I wanted to be playing.

“To be playing in front of such a big crowd for the country again, it’s everything to me.”

Evans’ victory gave Norrie the chance to clinch the tie, with Smith keeping faith with his number one despite his disappointing last few months and a loss to Stan Wawrinka on Friday.

Norrie saved a set point to force a tie-break in the first set against his fellow left-hander Humbert but blazed a backhand wide after fighting back from 2-6 to 5-6.

Norrie was not playing badly, though, and he secured the first break of the match to take a 2-0 lead in the second set.

Against Stan Wawrinka on Friday he had wilted from a similar position but here Norrie passed a real test by saving two break points at 4-2 and then another at 5-3 after three set points had come and gone.

It was the sort of gritty tennis that carried Norrie to the top 10 not so long ago, and he clinched his fourth chance to send the match to a deciding set.

Norrie seemed in the ascendancy for much of it but could not force a break and it was he who cracked serving to stay in the match, a double fault handing Humbert  a victory the Frenchman described as one of the best of his life.

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