Rugby World Cup 2019: England reminded of betting regulations, Jean Kleyn on Ireland switch and Steve Hansen hits back at South Africa

Round-up: A quick look at some of the main stories from Japan 2019 on Thursday 19 September

Samuel Lovett
Thursday 19 September 2019 08:31
England train in Japan ahead of the Rugby World Cup

England reminded of World Rugby betting regulations

England‘s entire playing squad and backroom staff have signed a document stating that they understand World Rugby‘s regulations on anti-corruption and betting.

The World Cup is reeling from the news that Wales attack coach Rob Howley has returned home to answer for an alleged breach of the rules, specifically in relation to betting on rugby.

Along with every nation competing in Japan, England have been given a detailed 20-minute briefing by World Rugby’s integrity unit.

Theirs took place on Monday, when news of Howley’s alleged transgression was known inside the Welsh camp but was yet to be made public.

Upon completion of the presentation at the England team hotel in Miyazaki, a form was passed around and signed by everyone present to record that they understood its contents.

Hansen and Erasmus at odds over referees ahead of World Cup blockbuster

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has dismissed the notion that referees favour in-form teams and says comments by counterpart Rassie Erasmus ahead of Saturday’s Rugby World Cup opener against South Africa were aimed at putting the match officials under pressure.

Erasmus is convinced that referees favour successful teams and this week called for a more balanced approach to officiating at the World Cup. But Hansen believes there is no special treatment for his side, or any of the other major contenders in the competition, suggesting Erasmus’ words were aimed at influencing Saturday’s referee, Frenchman Jerome Garces.

“It’s pretty obvious what they are trying to do,” Hansen told reporters on Thursday. “I have a lot of respect for South Africa and particularly Rassie, he’s a great coach, but I don’t agree with them trying to put more pressure on the referees. They’re under enough pressure already.

Steve Hansen believes there is no special treatment for his side 

“They don’t need us coaches doing what he is doing. It doesn’t matter who you are, as a coach or a team, you can always find things after a game and get emotional about the fact that it is against you and not the opposition. We have done it ourselves.”

Kleyn abandoned Springboks ambitions to commit to Ireland

When Ireland lock Jean Kleyn packed his whole life into three bags and boarded a plane for Munster in 2016, he insists he left behind any ambitions of playing for South Africa.

Kleyn qualified on residency just two days before his Ireland debut, the 29-10 victory over Italy in Dublin on August 10.

The 26-year-old second row then duly dislodged stalwart Leinster lock Devin Toner from Ireland’s 31-man World Cup squad, in a shock so seismic as to leave Brian O’Driscoll in disbelief.

The former Stormers lock has now claimed that the day he left his native South Africa for Munster was the day he consigned any Springboks aims to the past.

Jean Kleyn’s inclusion over Devin Toner ruffled many feathers in Ireland

“I figured that if I was coming over I couldn’t have the thought that I’d go back some day,” said Kleyn. “If I did that, then I’d get a year into it and be homesick, whereas when I committed I committed fully.

“I basically came over with my entire life packed into three bags and that was it for me. I knew that was going to be it for at least the near future, if not the indefinite future. I think just when you get to Ireland you realise the lifestyle is so brilliant.”

Pocock and Hooper combine for Wallabies’ World Cup opener against Fiji

David Pocock and Michael Hooper will combine in the back row for the first time this year when two-time champion Australia open their World Cup campaign against Fiji on Saturday.

Pocock has missed most of the season because of injury but returned in a warm-up match against Samoa and did enough to earn his place in the back row at the expense of Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, shifting to the blindside flank.

Hooper will start on the openside and Salakaia-Loto is expected to come in off the bench. Two of the best openside flankers in the game, Pocock and Hooper have regularly combined in the backrow to give Australia speed to the breakdown.

Christian Lealiifano retained his spot at flyhalf in favor of Bernard Foley, who was left out of the match-day 23.

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