The past week has seen a number of World Cup squads announced and the Summer Nations Series had 2 games where England won against Wales and France saw off Scotland. Bet Central brings you the Weekend Rugby Wrap and 5 Takeaways from the weekend’s rugby action.
France’s Worst Fears Confirmed
If there’s one player the French national side cannot afford to lose, it is Antoine Dupont. The second most important in that side is the control and temperament of Romain Ntamack and it has been confirmed that he will miss the showpiece with an ACL injury.
Fabien Galthie has a few good options in Mathieu Jalibert and Antoine Hastoy who have shown promise as international players. He also has the option of deploying Thomas Ramos there, but the loss of Ntamack is a big one for the French.
Ireland and South Africa Should Be Wary Of Scotland
Ntamack got injured in the second of 2 matches between France and Scotland. Gregor Townsend’s side certainly has the attention of the other international sides after being very good across both games albeit against a second-string French side in the 1st game.
Ireland and South Africa would do well not to underestimate the Scottish side who are making massive strides on the Test stage. Scotland have good depth up front now and have a backline to match the best backlines in the game. They will trouble the defending World champions and Six Nations’ holders.
Eddie Jones Surprises With World Cup Squad
It can either turn out to be genius or be construed to be complete madness the way Eddie Jones has selected his squad for the World Cup. The non-selection of Quade Cooper and Michael Hooper raised a lot of eyebrows with the youthful options selected ahead of them. Granted Michael Hooper was already an injury doubt.
He also selected Will Skelton as captain for the World Cup which also came as a bit of a surprise because at no point did he captain the Wallabies in the Tests played this year. It remains to be seen whether these gambles will pay off at the World Cup.
Hard To Gauge Wales And England’s Progress
When two teams who have struggled this season play each other and both encounters are closely contested, it becomes hard to measure their progression in the context of the international teams who have faired far better than them. That is the case with both England and Wales as they played 2 games with each team winning one game.
There are positives to both teams evident in these games. Maro Itoje’s form seems to be improving again for England while Liam Williams is a bright spark for Wales. Openside flankers, Jac Morgan for Wales and Ben Earl for England have been outstanding in these games.
Starting from the controversy of Johnny Sexton almost being banned from the World Cup for comments he made about the officiating in the Champions Cup final right through to the latest where Ntamack is confirmed to miss the World Cup and Owen Farrell is in danger of a lengthy ban for yet another reckless tackle. There has been a lot of drama surrounding international flyhalves.
This World Cup will see a lot of frontline flyhalves sidelined. Handre Pollard is also out injured, while Cooper won’t feature for the Wallabies. A ban for Farrell would see another 1st choice flyhalf not featuring at the beginning of the tournament for England. It’s been a crazy period for flyhalves and more could happen before a ball is kicked at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.