RWC 2019

Rugby fans flock to famous dog statue in Tokyo

A constant crowd gathers around Tokyo's most famous dog, tourists lining up to take pictures and selfies.

Adoring fans are nothing new for Hachikō, except now he dons a Japanese rugby jersey, and it's clearly an added thrill for those who have travelled to Japan especially for the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby fans are drawn here, all with strong reckons on which team can lift the World Cup trophy at the end of the tournament.

"Our hearts are always with the ABs," Aucklander Scott Cordes said.

Wales "shocked" by betting allegations

Wales assistant coach Howley was sent home from the Rugby World Cup on Tuesday with former Wales five-eighth Stephen Jones flying out to replace him.

"We were shocked by it," Gatland told a press conference in Kitayushu.

"At the moment these are allegations. Rob is devastated by the allegations."

The 48-year-old former Wales captain has been part of Gatland's coaching team since 2008.

"It took a bit of time to sink in. It is now how we turn a difficult situation into a positive one," Gatland said.

Springboks unchanged for All Blacks

Coach Rassie Erasmus will stick with the same XV and eight replacements that saw off hosts Japan 41-7 in a warm-up game two weeks ago.

It represents the first time the Springboks have stuck with the same side since the 2015 World Cup semi-final, which New Zealand edged 20-18 at Twickenham, while number eight Duane Vermeulen will win his 50th Test cap.

The only alteration from the team that played out a 16-16 Rugby Championship draw against the All Blacks in Wellington in July is fit-again captain Siya Kolisi starting at openside flanker in place of Kwagga Smith.

Rugby World Cup 2019: Japan v Russia

The Brave Blossoms caused an almighty stir at the tournament four years ago by defeating giants South Africa 34-32 in one of the biggest shocks in the sport's history.

Agonisingly for the team, led by now England coach Eddie Jones, that effort in Brighton was not quite enough as they became the first team to be eliminated from the pool stage having won three matches.

It was Japan's best performance at a World Cup to date, but Joseph wants his side to dream big.

'Read deserves RWC win as captain'

Read will retire after the upcoming World Cup, where New Zealand are chasing a third straight title and fourth in total.

The 33-year-old featured in the 2011 and 2015 successes but only replaced Richie McCaw as the All Blacks captain in 2016, meaning he has not yet led the team at a finals.

Warburton was Wales skipper at consecutive World Cups and believes Read fits the role of a successful leader.

"You look at World Cup winners and - I won't say names - some people you come across, it doesn't suit them, no disrespect," Warburton told Omnisport.

Japan capable of shocking Ireland, warns O'Driscoll

Tournament hosts in 2019, Japan provided one of the greatest shocks in World Cup history four years ago with a stunning last-gasp 34-32 defeat of the Springboks in their opening fixture.

The Brave Blossoms are in Ireland's pool this time and former star O'Driscoll is wary of another surprise result when they meet on September 28.

He believes the memory of that South Africa win and the backing of the home support could make Japan a dangerous opponent.

Jones happy with eager England

the "serious preparation" for their Rugby World Cup opener.

The 2003 winners are set up at a training base in Miyazaki ahead of this year's tournament, though the 31-man squad have been given the chance to do a variety of other activities before the focus switches back to rugby.

They visited a local school during the week, with some players trying their hand at archery, while Jones has allowed them the opportunity to relax as they settle into their new surroundings.

All Blacks shut down Sonny Bill Williams rumours

On Sunday, midfielder Williams was rumoured to be heading home from Japan with a calf injury, but those rumours were quickly shut down by the All Blacks. 

Former rugby reporter Hamish McKay told Radio Sport Williams would be replaced by Manawatu Turbos midfielder Ngani Laumape. 

But sources told Newshub that Laumape had not received a call from All Blacks management to join the squad.

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said Williams was carrying an injury, but the team was doing a good job managing it. 

"Is he going home?" said Foster. "No.

England's Launchbury, Slade fit to feature

Launchbury sustained a knock in England's final warm-up fixture against Italy, while head coach Eddie Jones was without Slade for all of the preparation games as the centre recovered from a knee injury.

However, the duo will be able to take part in England's World Cup opener against Tonga on September 22, meaning Jones will have 29 of his 31-man squad available for selection.

Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell will still be missing, with both players expected to be out for at least the first two pool-stage matches.

All Blacks have time to adapt to heat and humidity, says professor

Images of the All Blacks visibly struggling in the heat and humidity in Japan have filtered back to New Zealand but Jim Cotter, a professor at the school of Physical Education at the University of Otago, reassured New Zealanders that they had given themselves enough time to adapt before their Rugby World Cup opener against South Africa on September 21.

"That's plenty of time," Professor Cotter told Stuff. "They'll have full adaption of what they need by then.

"You don't want it too much more, that's too much time away. That's the time you need.