TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on Day 20 at the Rugby World Cup (all times local):
England defense coach John Mitchell says No. 8 Billy Vunipola won’t be risked in the Pool C decider against France if his injured ankle hasn’t healed sufficiently.
Vunipola twisted his left ankle in the win over Argentina and Mitchell says England will “make sure that if there is any risk then we won’t risk him.” Mitchell says Vunipola will “definitely” be fit next week ahead of the quarterfinals.
England and France have both qualified for the quarterfinals. Saturday’s game in Yokohama decides who wins the pool.
Coach Eddie Jones has been questioned over how much he’s played Vunipola recently. Vunipola has started all England’s games at the Rugby World Cup, although he came off at halftime against the Pumas having received treatment on his ankle on the field.
England also has injury concerns over prop Joe Marler and back Jack Nowell — just “niggles” according to Mitchell — while captain Owen Farrell and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie have been ill.
The England-France game could be one of a number affected if Super Typhoon Hagibis hits Japan, as feared, this weekend.
Mitchell says England hasn’t given much thought to the typhoon: “We don’t let that noise enter our preparation.”
Mathieu Raynal of France is ill and has withdrawn from refereeing the Pool A match between Scotland and Russia in Shizuoka. He has been replaced by Wayne Barnes of England.
Barnes’ place as assistant referee will be filled by Alex Ruiz of France.
The other assistant is still Federico Anselmi of Argentina, and the Television Match Officia remains Marius Jonker of South Africa.
Three matches are scheduled Wednesday at the Rugby World Cup on the 20th day of the tournament that is moving towards the end of pool play. Organizers, however, are concerned about a typhoon that could affect matches on the weekend.
Typhoon Hagibis could hit Japan on Saturday, when three matches are scheduled. Four more are set for Sunday, the final day of the preliminary round.
“We are currently monitoring the development of a typhoon off the south coast of Japan in partnership with our weather information experts,” World Rugby said in a statement. “It is still too early to determine what, if any, impact there will be on match or training activities.”
On Saturday, New Zealand plays Italy, England takes on France and Ireland plays Samoa at Fukuoka, which is situated on the north shore of Kyushu Island and appears to be the match most threatened by the typhoon.
Clear and sunny skies are expected at all three venues on Wednesday, when Argentina plays the United States at Kumagaya near Tokyo, Scotland takes on Russia at Shizuoka and Wales plays Fiji at Oita.
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