World Rugby probe England game and Wales urged to follow Edwards' 'violent' plan
These are your rugby headlines on Sunday, September 10.
Sam Warburton has urged Wales to follow Shaun Edwards' "violent" France blueprint to beat Fiji.
Highlighting how Edwards helped inspire the French to a recent 34-17 win over the Fijians, Warburton pinpointed the huge defensive effort that limited offloads and stifled Fiji's attacking ambitions.
He wrote in his Time column: "France’s defence was quite exceptional. They were so quick off the line and Shaun always coaches his players to target the ball against Fiji in order to stop the offloads at which they are so good. Fiji only managed six offloads in that match.
"I know people do not necessarily like this word in a rugby sense, but the defence was “violent” — a word Shaun used a lot when he was with Wales. The France centre Jonathan Danty was at the heart of that.
"It will be very tight but I think Wales will win. The fly half Dan Biggar will be a critical player for me, simply because he is so good at delivering a game plan and demanding that from the players around him."
World Rugby has announced it is looking into what went wrong at the England v Argentina match as many fans missed the start due to concerning congestion entering the stadium in Marseilles.
Wales fans have been advised to allow extra time to travel to the World Cup opener against Fiji in Bordeaux on Sunday after there were also chaotic scenes at the Ireland game earlier in the day.
Ireland fans heading to their country's fixture against Romania in Bordeaux on Saturday afternoon were caught up in chaos on the way to the ground, with thousands left queuing outside the stadium in the blistering heat after public transport in the city was brought to a near standstill due to the increased footfall.
And there were even worse scenes ahead of England's clash against Argentina as fans faced major delays getting into the Stade Velodrome in Marseille as they were stuck in long queues and faced crushes as they desperately tried to make it in in time for kick-off.
With the stadium reportedly just over half-full, many supporters missed the start of the game, which saw England reduced to 14 men after two minutes as flanker Tom Curry was shown a red card.
The delays have been attributed to slow security checks, as well as fans arriving too close to kick-off and gathering around the gates.
A World Rugby statement said: “We are aware of delays experienced by fans entering Stade de Marseille for the Rugby World Cup 2023 Pool D match between England and Argentina match this evening.
“While fans were able to take their seats, fan experience is paramount, and we are working with all stakeholders to establish the facts and implement measures to prevent such delays for the remaining Rugby World Cup 2023 matches at the venue.”
It comes after last year's Champions League final in Paris saw thousands of Liverpool fans stuck in long queues outside the stadium after the entry system became overwhelmed, with French authorities again coming under fire.
England coach Steve Borthwick has said his side had been "written off too quickly" ahead of the World Cup after they beat Argentina in an impressive opening display in Marseille.
Despite seeing Tom Curry sent off in the opening minutes, England rallied to win convincingly against a woeful Argentina side who rightfully found themselves on the wrong side of a 27-10 scoreline.
George Ford delivered a masterclass in the suspended Owen Farrell's absence as he recorded his largest ever haul for his country by kicking all 27 points, but it was a much-improved display from the entire England team who had endured a poor run of pre-tournament form.
But while many had predicted the 2019 finalists' bad run to continue into the tournament, Borthwick said that the spirit and determination that his players showed proved that they had been written off too early with everything to play for in France.
"There was a feeling, a sense that I have from the players that we have been written off too early. It is a really quality group of players that I think are going to keep improving. We have had a short time together as a group and I think we're going to move forward and quickly.
Speaking of his delight at the win, the coach continued: "We will enjoy this and the many England supporters here tonight will enjoy this and I'm sure many people back home in the pubs are enjoying it. But our focus is going to switch to Japan very quickly."
"I enjoy this job, I enjoy working with this group, this group of players and they're a fantastic group. I'm really pleased for them tonight."
Wales legend Scott Quinnell has said that Wales' wide players will make all the difference in their clash with Fiji, with Liam Williams and George North key to getting an opening round victory.
The former international is out in France filming for S4C and ahead of his former side's first game at this year's World Cup has given his thoughts on what has been billed as a 'must-win' clash for Warren Gatland's men.
While he questioned that tag, Quinnell knows how important Sunday could prove to be for Wales later in the tournament and claimed that Gatland should be targeting the semi-finals with his side on the more favourable side of the draw.
"It's funny, it's not a must-win game because you can win this one and still not go through," he said. But it feels like a must-win game. It's one of those where you know both Wales and Fiji have the ability to beat Australia and the ability to beat each other. We know in 2007, 38-34, it was an absolute humdinger down the road in Nantes and I don't see it being any different really on Sunday. I think it'll be a bit nervy because both teams know how much this means to them.
"Of course, Fiji beating England at Twickenham a couple of weeks ago has given them that bounce that they have in their step, but I think Warren Gatland has that ability to get sides up for big tournaments," he added. "He'll be sitting there with a glass of Bordeaux wine tonight looking at this pool and looking at the draw saying, 'semi-final', and then let's have a look from there."
And while he said that he thought captain Jac Morgan would have an "absolutely massive" tournament, Quinnell singled out North and Williams as the potential game-changers against the Pacific Islanders.
"It's the boys out wide I think who will win this one for us," he said. "And not always going forward, I think defensively too. Liam Williams at fullback will have a massive game and George North, these are type of games that he loves, big men running at him, he'll be putting his defensive display in.
"We know how good going forward he is, but with Tompkins in the centre, I think it's gonna be massive. So let's score some tries and let's stop Fiji scoring more".
Allez Quinnell will be available on S4C Chwaraeon’s YouTube and Facebook.
Andy Farrell was delighted to have Johnny Sexton back "firing on all cylinders" following the Ireland captain's record-breaking return in a 12-try demolition of Romania.
Influential fly-half Sexton shrugged off an absence of almost six months by registering two tries and seven conversions as his side launched their Rugby World Cup campaign with a thumping 82-8 win.
The 38-year-old's impressive 24-point haul in the blistering heat of Bordeaux moved him on to a total of 102 in the competition, surpassing the 93 registered by former team-mate Ronan O'Gara. Sexton, who is playing at his fourth World Cup, is now only nine points shy of O'Gara's national record tally of 1,083, while he also took the title of Ireland's oldest international from retired prop John Hayes.
Head coach Farrell could not resist poking fun at his veteran skipper as he backed him to make more history in the coming weeks against Tonga, South Africa and Scotland.
"I heard he broke a few records today," said Farrell. "What was the record, Johnny? The oldest player to play at the tournament, that's the first one. And what was the other one, points scored? Twenty-four points, puts him nine points behind the record for the most points scored for any Irish player.
"So you would think if selected that he'd be able to get that record. But the most pleasing point for us was definitely 60-odd minutes under the belt and firing on all cylinders and fit and healthy and ready to go for the rest of the competition."
Sexton was available for the first time since sustaining a groin issue in helping Ireland clinch the Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam against England on March 18. He missed his country's three warm-up matches through suspension following "confrontational and aggressive" behaviour towards referee Jaco Peyper.
"(I had) six months thinking about it, obviously part of that was self-inflicted with my mistake," Sexton, who received a standing ovation when he was replaced 15 minutes from time, said of his long-awaited comeback.
"I'm obviously delighted to be back. I didn't expect conditions to be like that, it was incredibly hot, in the warm-up in particular. I'm delighted to get through some minutes, we got through some good stuff.
"But there's lots to improve on, both individually and as a team, and we know the challenge next week (Tonga in Nantes) is going to be up a couple of levels. We're very, very happy with five points and a good points difference as well, which could matter at the end of the pool."