Rugby World Cup 2019: World Rugby backs WRU over Rob Howley dismissal, Samoa tattoos and Irish lineout under spotlight

Round-up: A quick look at some of the main stories from Japan 2019 on Wednesday 18 September

Samuel Lovett@samueljlovett
Wednesday 18 September 2019 08:50
Rugby World Cup: Wales in profile

World Rugby ‘supports’ Wales over handling of Howley scandal

World Rugby says it “fully supports” the Welsh Rugby Union’s “proactive approach” over the Rob Howley affair.

Howley was sent home from the World Cup in Japan for an alleged breach of World Rugby’s betting and anti-corruption regulations.

The WRU said that Howley had “returned to Wales to assist with an investigation in relation to a potential breach of World Rugby regulation 6, specifically betting on rugby union”.

“World Rugby has been informed by the Welsh Rugby Union of a potential breach of World Rugby Regulation 6 (specifically betting on rugby) by a member of the union’s RWC 2019 coaching team,” the governing body said. “World Rugby fully supports the WRU’s proactive approach to this matter and can confirm that the union is keeping us informed of their initial discussions.”

Samoa’s tattooed rugby players to cover up tattoos in Japan

Samoan rugby players will wear skin suits to cover their traditional tattoos during some training sessions at the World Cup in order not to offend their Japanese hosts.

Samoa captain Jack Lam said team officials consulted an expert on Japanese culture to make sure tattooed players avoided any cultural issues. Tattoos are often associated with organized crime in Japan, and people with tattoos are often banned at some bath houses and swimming pools.

“We had someone coming in and giving us a heads-up about what we could expect in Japan,” Lam said. “There’s a lot of similarities in our cultures but when it comes to the tattoos ... it’s quite normal in our culture.”

“But we are respectful and mindful to what the Japanese way is. We will be making sure that what we are showing will be OK.”

Samoa captain Jack Lam

Irish lineout comes into focus amid selection tradeoffs

Ireland begin their World Cup campaign against Scotland on Sunday with their fair share of questions to answer, chief among them how their lineout will fare without its chief operator for the last four years.

Coach Joe Schmidt surprised many when he could not find room in his 31-man squad for Devin Toner, favouring the greater versatility offered by Tadhg Beirne and scrummaging power of the relatively untested Jean Kleyn when it came down to his final second row squad choices.

At 2.10 metres (6ft-11in) tall, it is obvious what Ireland sacrifice without Toner but perhaps more crucially than his ability to win the ball and preoccupy opposing jumpers is the fact that the experienced Leinster man has called Ireland’s lineouts since Paul O’Connell retired after the last World Cup.

“The caller is huge,” said former Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman, who threw to Toner when the lock was starting out at Leinster. “The hooker needs absolute confidence in the lineout caller and the most important thing, as a hooker, is that your caller will stay calm and work things out.

“Everyone thinks that James Ryan can do a good job and I’m one of those. He’s a very bright guy but he’s very much being thrown in the deep end.”

James Ryan is now set to lead Ireland’s lineout

England urged by own coach to tour Pacific Islands

The Rugby Football Union has been told it is not above touring the Pacific Islands to help the development of Tonga, Fiji and Samoa by one of its own coaches, having not visited the region for 28 years.

England have played in the Fijian capital of Suva just twice in their history, firstly in 1988 and then again three years later ahead of the 1991 Rugby World Cup, while they have never visited Samoa or Tonga.

Both Scotland and Italy toured Fiji two years ago while Wales played in Samoa the same summer, yet England have avoided the Pacific Islands for nearly three decades as it’s believed a tour would not work financially.

But the current England attack coach, Scott Wisemantel, has urged the RFU to commit to a tour in the future that would see them play games against the Pacific nations even if it does not make sense money-wise.

“They need to play consistently against the best,” Wisemantel said. ”The problem is the revenue, whether financially it can be done, that’s the biggest issue. In regard to that, potentially a solution is that in the November window, the Pacific nations get to play one of the big dogs at one of the big stadiums and they get a piece of the pie.”

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