RWC 2019: Tonga end tournament on a high with 31-19 win over United States

Press Association Sport 13:00 13/10/2019
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Tonga’s Malietoa Hingano is airborne as he dives in for a try.

Tonga captain Siale Piutau was happy to see his international career finish on a high after the 31-19 win over the United States in Hanazono.

Piutau got the third of four Tongan tries as they secured a bonus-point victory over the Eagles to secure fourth place in Pool C.

Piutau said: “We spoke all week about us deserving to play well and to finish on a high.

“This brought out the boys in the face of adversity and we’ve put in a performance and hopefully we’ve made our people proud.

“It’s an awesome way to cap off an international career. It’s my birthday today, it’s probably the best birthday present that the boys can give me. It’s been a huge honour and a privilege to represent this jersey.

“It’s been an emotional year for our family. We lost a sister early this year and it’s been a tough journey but all of this for me personally has been done in her memory.”

USA coach Gary Gold felt his side will take some positives away from the tournament.

He said: “We played some really good teams in this Rugby World Cup.

“It’s been excellent, I think after the disappointment has died down we’ll reflect and we’ll have learned a lot of lessons.”

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RWC 2019: England's Mako Vunipola praying for loved ones as Super Typhoon Hagibis batters Japan

Press Association Sport 10:28 13/10/2019
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England prop Mako Vunipola is praying for his loved ones in Tokyo as Super Typhoon Hagibis batters the Japanese capital.

The nation’s biggest hurricane for 61 years has brought devastation to vast swathes of Honshu after hitting landfall, resulting in evacuation orders, flooding and power blackouts.

England were able to escape Hagibis after their Rugby World Cup group game against France in Yokohama was cancelled, allowing them to travel to Miyazaki where they have begun preparations for the quarter-finals.

But many fans are stranded in Tokyo after jetting in to watch the match and Mako and his young brother Billy have a number of relatives who have been toughing out the 122mph winds and relentless rain accompanying the 870-mile-wide cyclone.

“We have families and friends there. That was probably the hardest thing to deal with – realising that the game wouldn’t be on and trying to make plans for them,” Vunipola said.

“My partner came over but went back before the game. My dad has just arrived and my aunties and cousins also came. My auntie has been here for the whole time.

“My dad had only come over for the France game, but I think he will stay for the Australia game.

“Japan are pretty used to typhoons and they have regulations to deal with it, so it’s just a case of them doing as they’re told and us hoping and praying that they’re safe.

“We’re talking to them as much as we can. It’s worrying, but we’re lucky because we’re pretty sheltered from a lot of it. I just hope the damage isn’t too much and people are OK.

“Obviously you’re focused on rugby but you know it’s not the be-all and end-all, especially when you see things like this typhoon. You worry for people’s safety.”

Vunipola was poised to make only his second appearance of the World Cup against France after making his second comeback from a hamstring injury a week ago when Argentina were toppled at Tokyo Stadium.

The Saracens prop has been limited to 38 minutes of rugby since May 11 and he admits the cancelled game has been a significant blow.

“I wanted to play as much as I can, to get a bit more game time under my belt,” Vunipola said.

“But you can’t control these things and it’s pretty serious. We as players don’t make those calls, so we’ve just got to deal with it.

“We had an idea that it might happen but I didn’t really think there was a chance the game would be cancelled. But two days before the game, we got the news.

“We’d had a tough day in training on Wednesday so I was a bit gutted because I’d worked hard.

“You want to play for your country as much as you can, but this has happened and we’re here now.

“Before we came to the World Cup, we spoke about it and said this could be a reality, and now it has happened. It’s just a case of getting ready for it, dealing with it and moving on as soon as possible.”

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RWC 2019: Ireland flying specialist lawyer into Japan to keep Bundee Aki's World Cup alive

Press Association Sport 10:07 13/10/2019
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Ireland are flying a specialist lawyer into Japan in a bid to keep Bundee Aki’s Rugby World Cup alive.

Connacht centre Aki faces a disciplinary hearing in Tokyo on Monday night, following his red card in Ireland’s 47-5 win over Samoa that booked Joe Schmidt’s men a World Cup quarter-final.

Aki was sent off for a high tackle on UJ Seuteni in Fukuoka, and the 29-year-old could be hit with a suspension that could end his World Cup.

But the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has confirmed that William Fry partner Derek Hegarty is en route to Japan, to act for the union in any eventual hearing.

Defence coach Andy Farrell said Ireland are still awaiting referee Nic Berry’s official match report, but admitted his personal sympathy for any player who is sent off.

“I feel sorry for everyone who gets a red card,” said Farrell.

“I don’t know anyone in world rugby who wants to do anything like that on a pitch.

“I’ll keep my powder dry until after the process; we haven’t had the referee’s report yet, so we’ll wait until after that.

“We believe there will be a hearing in the next 36 hours, so we’ll see how that goes.

“Reaction stuff is very tough to judge, you can slow everything down and everyone has a comment.

“I’d like to think there’s a bit of feel in and around the whole situation.”

Ireland boss Schmidt said Aki was “devastated” to have been sent off against his fatherland Samoa in Saturday’s seven-try win in Fukuoka.

Samoa head coach Steve Jackson immediately pledged to make any possible representation to World Rugby, in the hope Aki would not receive any further punishment than his red card.

World Rugby confirmed Aki’s hearing will take place on Monday in a short statement.

“The player will attend a hearing before an independent judicial committee chaired by Adam Casselden SC (Australia), joined by former international coach Frank Hadden (Scotland and former referee Valeriu Toma (Romania),” read the statement.

“The hearing will take place in Tokyo at 1930 on Monday, October 14.”

Previous red cards have been met with three-match suspensions at this World Cup however, and Aki might suffer the same fate – which would rule him out of any further action at the tournament.

Former Terenure scrum-half Hegarty heads up the sports division at Dublin firm William Fry, who advised the IRFU on its bid to host World Cup 2023.

Schmidt said he would be “pretty disappointed” if Aki’s red card turned into a suspension for him to miss the remainder of the World Cup.

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