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Harlequins’ Demetri Catrakilis being stretchered off on Sunday

Harlequins fly-half Demetri Catrakilis will miss time after suffering a “small fracture” to a bone in his throat in the win over Gloucester on Sunday.

Catrakilis stopped breathing for several seconds and was taken to hospital after suffering the injury 12 minutes into the game.

Harlequins have not said how long the 28-year-old will be out for, but the injury will not require surgery.

Catrakilis was making his first start since joining Quins in the summer.

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Andrew Coombs

Retired Wales rugby player Andrew Coombs is “disgusted and devastated” his former region Newport Gwent Dragons have ended his insurance policy.

Coombs, 32, injured a knee in April 2015 and had to quit 14 months later.

He says he is left with “thousands of pounds of medical bills for treatment not available on the NHS”.

Dragons chief executive Stuart Davies says the region gave Coombs “financial support over and above our contractual obligations” before his retirement.

Davies added: “Like most employers’ medical insurance schemes, cover ordinarily ceases on termination of employment.

“In fact, Andrew remained covered at our expense for some months after his retirement. Andrew’s cover under the policy came to an end as we moved towards self-funding the cost of treatment for players in our employment, due to the escalating costs of insurance.”

Davies also said the Dragons offered Coombs “full and ongoing access to our medical staff and facilities” and that the offer “remains in place”.

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George North

Northampton Saints will face no sanction following the investigation into their treatment of Wales wing George North’s latest head injury.

However, the concussion review panel concluded that the 24-year-old should not have returned to the field of play after he fell in a mid-air tackle against Leicester on 3 December.

The panel’s 17-page report stated that head injury assessment (HIA) protocol was followed correctly, but the Saints medical team have accepted that North may have lost consciousness.

 “The Concussion Management Review Group’s (CMRG) view is that there was sufficient evidence to conclude not only from the video evidence but also George North’s history and risk stratification that he should not have returned to the field of play,” said the report.

“The CMRG considered the welfare of North was always at the centre of Northampton’s actions, and does not consider that the medical team (or the club) failed to complete the HIA protocol nor intentionally ignored the player’s best interests.”

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Players making contact with an opponent’s head in “reckless tackles” will receive a yellow card at least in changes to rules over high tackles.

Players will be punished even if the tackle starts below the shoulders.

If head contact is accidental – for example, if a ball-carrier slips into a tackle – a penalty will be awarded.

World Rugby says the new rules, which come into effect on 3 January, “aim to change culture in the sport to ensure that the head is a no-go area”.

A reckless tackle occurs when a player “knew or should have known that there was a risk of making contact with the head of an opponent, but did so anyway”.

In September 2015, World Rugby’s chief medical officer Martin Raftery said that the game’s rules may have to change to reduce concussions.

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Toulouse let Florian Fritz play on in the match after this head knock

“It’s definitely a game of how big can we get them, how quickly, and let’s see if they can cope – otherwise, we’ll move them on.”

Shaun Longstaff, the former Scotland wing turned international rugby agent, might be talking about broiler chickens or beef cattle, livestock and commodities, rather than professional sportsmen.

But this is the ruthless business of modern rugby at the elite end – and the source of Longstaff’s alarm.

His agency represents some of the sport’s top global talent. Scotland internationals Tommy Seymour and Pete Horne, Ireland duo Conor Murray and Simon Zebo, England’s Dan Cole, and Australian Will Genia are among the more illustrious names on his books.

Longstaff, 44, has seen the game change, watched players pump themselves bigger and stronger. He’s observed the physical toll – the enforced retirements, the frightening and lingering symptoms of concussion.

He seeks the counsel of surgeons and scientists, and finds himself holding increasingly frank exchanges with his players about their quality of life after rugby.

And he worries about his role in it all, the path his sport is treading, and what might become of those whose careers and well-being he oversees.

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Edinburgh RugbyHead coach Alan Solomons says criticism of Edinburgh’s playing style is ‘manifestly unfair’.

Solomons watched his team register their first win of the Pro12 season against Scarlets at Murrayfield, but some have criticised the side’s lack of attacking ambition under his stewardship.

“Personally I think the criticism is unfair,” Solomons said. “This talk they are under instruction not to run the ball is nonsense.”

Solomons is adamant that Edinburgh’s attacking prowess has developed under his assistant Duncan Hodge.

“We have worked very hard on our attack, Hodgy is doing a good job and it is a question of playing the conditions correctly and getting the result. It is professional sport and it is about winning.

“No-one has given them any instruction on how to play. They have all the options available to take under our game management plan. That criticism is manifestly unfair.

“We are improving year on year. We are carrying a number of injuries [Al Dickinson, Anton Bresler, Nasi Manu, Jason Tovey, Will Helu and Damien Hoyland are all currently unavailable] and we are not a big budget squad.

“We are not Toulon. We don’t have a massive amount of money but I think we have a good group of players.”

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Pieter-Steph du Toit

Pieter-Steph du Toit

Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan says Pieter-Steph du Toit’s injury is a big setback for the team ahead of their three-Test series against Ireland.

Du Toit, who has been plagued with injuries since making his international debut in 2013, suffered a grade two hamstring tear in the Stormers 31-24 win over the Cheetahs last weekend and has been ruled out of action for between two and six weeks.

Van Graan on Tuesday said that although the lock’s injury is “not a long-term one”, Du Toit was still a big part of the team’s plans heading into the first Test against Ireland.

“I believe Pieter-Steph [du Toit] will develop into one of the best locks in the world,” said Van Graan.

“He was pretty unlucky to get injured in 2013 and then again in early in 2015. I think he showed at the World Cup that he will develop into one of the best and in Super Rugby he has been fantastic.

“He is a big loss for the Springboks – he was part of our plans and he is still part of our plans. Luckily it’s not a long term injury.”

Du Toit’s injury opened the door for Lions lock Franco Mostert, who joined the Springboks in Stellenbosch from the SA ‘A’ squad on Tuesday.

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ScotlandGlasgow Warriors flyhalf Finn Russell picked up a nasty injury very early on in the Warrior”s match against Connacht in Galway in the PRO12 semifinal on Saturday. He was involved in one of those ‘freak’ events when he and team mate Zander Ferguson ran into each other.

Current Scotland U20 tighthead prop Fagerson had to leave the field but was able to walk off although he didn’t return for the rest of the game.

For Finn Russell however the collision was more costly, as the medics rushed onto the field to treat the two it became clear that Finn had suffered a nasty injury to his face. Early on during the on-field assessment they had him standing up but then lay him on the ground. After what seemed like quite a while he was stretchered off to a sporting applause from concerned fans at the ground and taken to hospital.

Glasgow Warriors put out a short message on Sunday night confirming that Finn was still in hospital undergoing observation. Today the club put out a longer statement with the news that although he remained in hospital he didn’t require surgery and that he may be released later this week.

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Rory Lamont: On-field treatment following Fibula fracture against France in 2012

The relationship between Rory Lamont and rugby has always been uneasy. When it was good, it was really good: 29 Scotland caps, two World Cups, and stints in Europe’s top leagues with Toulon, Sale and Glasgow.

When it was bad, it was really bad: whispering campaigns about his attitude, 16 operations, “double figure” concussions. By the time the game ran out of uses for him, the feeling was entirely mutual.

Three years ago this week, Lamont announced his retirement. The last of his many injuries, a lower leg fracture from the previous year, hadn’t properly healed and the end came as a relief.

“I was thinking, ‘finally it’s over’. I felt like an animal being put out of its misery. I’d had a miserable year, people questioning my integrity, and I couldn’t wait to crack on with my life and all the amazing things I was going to do.”

Never did he picture becoming a recluse, battling severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Nowhere in the retirement brochure did it say he’d lose 25kg in four months and be unable to stomach solids for a further five. The bit about being so low he hoped he’d be run over by a bus? Not what he’d signed up for either.

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StretcherMore than 70 doctors and academics are calling for a ban on tackling in rugby matches played in UK and Irish schools.

In an open letter to ministers, they say injuries from this “high-impact collision sport” can have lifelong consequences for children.

They argue 2 3rds of injuries in youth rugby and most concussions are down to tackles and urge schools to move to touch and non-contact rugby.

Supporters say rugby builds character and other forms are less challenging.

The concerns have been raised as a 7-year programme headed by the Rugby Football Union is on target to introduce rugby to a million children in state schools across England.

The RFU’s programme, which began in 2012 and is running until 2019, has so far reached 400 schools, with 350 to follow.

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Vodacom Blue BullsAs the Vodacom Bulls preparations for Super Rugby 2016 gains momentum we focus on some team news.

Rudy Paige has been named as Vice-Captain for the season.

Handré Pollard’s shoulder injury has been confirmed and he will miss the opening weeks of Super Rugby.

Deon Stegmann needs to undergo an operation due to an ankle injury and projections are that he will be out for 9 weeks.

In addition it is believed that Derick Hougaard, also affectionately known as “Liefling”, is going to attempt to make the Bulls team, after years in the wilderness, but he is not in the current Bulls Super Rugby plans… yet.

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Sergio Parisse, Sam Warburton, Rory Best, Dylan Hartley, Greg Laidlaw and Guilhem Guirado (from left to right)

Sergio Parisse, Sam Warburton, Rory Best, Dylan Hartley, Greg Laidlaw and Guilhem Guirado (from left to right) at yesterday’s RBS 6 Nations 2016 launch

The 2016 RBS 6 Nations launched in style on Wednesday morning at the Hurlingham Club and the 6 captains present an intriguing mix of the old and the new.

There are 3 brand new skippers for this year’s Championship, which gets underway in 10 days’ time on Saturday 6 February when France welcome Italy to the Stade de France – and they are all hookers.

Rory Best takes the armband for 2-time defending champions Ireland after Paul O’Connell’s retirement, Eddie Jones’ England have Dylan Hartley at the helm and France under Guy Noves will be led by Guilhem Guirado.

Those 3 were joined by Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw, Wales’ Sam Warburton and Italy’s Sergio Parisse on Wednesday – 3 captains that have led their country with great distinction for many years.

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Cornell du Preez

Cornell du Preez in action against Glasgow Warriors

Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons insists the fact Cornell du Preez is prepared to play through the pain barrier shows how special a player he is.

The loose forward is in line for his 50th appearance for the Scottish side when he runs out against Benetton Treviso in the Guinness PRO12 tonight (Friday night).

The South African-born forward joined the club ahead of the 2013 / 2014 season and has racked up 37 league appearances since.

He missed most of last season, however, due to an ankle injury but has appeared in all of Edinburgh’s Guinness PRO12 games this campaign, helping the club to 4th in the table.

However, Solomons admitted his player is still overcoming the after effects of that injury.

“Cornell has made a massive contribution to Edinburgh,” he said.

“There are not many people who would have had the ankle injury he has had and come back to play like he has.

“He is going to play in pain for a while. He trains and plays and has a bit of pain there, obviously. It is the kind of injury that will take 18 months to clear up. He is a class rugby player.”

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Roddy Grant

Roddy Grant

Experienced Edinburgh flanker Roddy Grant has been forced to retire after failing to recover from a knee injury suffered at the end of last season.

The 28-year-old played 138 times for the club and represented Scotland Sevens between 2006 and 2014, including last year’s Commonwealth Games.

“A difficult time has been made easier as it’s not been a decision,” said Grant.

“You just have to get on with it, accept things and move on.”

Grant joined Edinburgh in 2009 after beginning his Scottish rugby career as an apprentice with Border Reivers.

A recipient of the John Macphail Scholarship in 2008, he broadened his experience playing with Auckland University in New Zealand, having played through Scotland’s age grades, and went on to be part of the Scotland A team that secured a 35 / 0 victory over England Saxons in 2012.

“It’s been a pretty emotional time, having to come to terms with the fact I have to stop playing due to injury but I have no regrets,” added Grant.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve done, what I’ve achieved and what I’ve contributed.”

Head coach Alan Solomons said: “Roddy’s retirement is a sad day for both the club and Scottish rugby.

“I’ve been fortunate, over the years, to coach some terrific young men; Roddy is right up there with the best of the best. His contribution to the club has been immense, both on and off the field. He is a leader of men and the ultimate pro.

“He has the heart of a lion, an unbelievable work-rate and he knew our systems and his role within them to perfection. Roddy never had a bad game. He is certainly one of the most consistent players I have ever coached.

“We will miss him – he is one of a kind.”

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Shalva Mamukashvili

Georgian Hooker Shalva Mamukashvili joins Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors have signed Georgian international Shalva Mamukashvili on a deal until the end of the season.

The 25-year-old has 35 caps for his country and featured in all 4 of Georgia’s Rugby World Cup pool games in England.

He played 11 matches for Sale Sharks last season, including 3 European Rugby Champions Cup games.

The experienced hooker goes straight into the Warriors 41-man European squad, replacing Kevin Bryce. Glasgow visit Racing 92 on Saturday and then host Northampton Saints the following weekend, in front of a capacity crowd at Scotstoun.

Mamukashvili joins as cover at hooker, with both Kevin Bryce and Fergus Scott set for lengthy spells on the sidelines, while Fraser Brown is currently recovering from foot surgery.

Bryce and Scott have both undergone shoulder operations, following scans at BMI Ross Hall Hospital, and are expected to remain on the sidelines for several months.

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James Slipper

James Slipper

The Reds will need a new captain for the start of the 2016 Super Rugby season as Wallabies Rugby World Cup prop James Slipper will have surgery in the off season.

Slipper has returned to Australia from England and will see surgeon Phil Duke to sort out a shoulder issue that has been troubling him for several seasons.

The new Super Rugby season begins in 14 weeks and the Reds start the new season with a match against the Waratahs in Sydney on 27 February.

Minor shoulder surgery will rule him out of the opening Rounds of the season while a full shoulder reconstruction could keep him out until April or May.

In his absence the Reds captaincy could go to vice-captain and Wallabies lock Rob Simmons or flanker Liam Gill.

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Kane Douglas down injured in the Final against the All Blacks

Kane Douglas down injured in the Final against the All Blacks

Wallabies lock Kane Douglas faces surgery on his injured left knee this week after MRI scans confirmed he sustained a ruptured ACL during Australia’s World Cup Final against New Zealand.

The 26-year-old injured his knee when he fell awkwardly just 15 minutes into the decider and took no further part in the match.

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De Kock Steenkamp

De Kock Steenkamp

The Ospreys confirmed that lock De Kock Steenkamp has been released from his contract and will return home to South Africa after undergoing surgery for an ongoing hip problem.

It brings to an end an injury ravaged 14-month spell with the team that has seen the lock restricted to just 2 competitive appearances at the start of this season.

The 28-year-old signed from the Cape Town based DHL Stormers in September 2014 to add his considerable experience and physical presence to a young squad, having earned a reputation as one of the leading line-out operators in Super Rugby.

However, an achilles injury sustained within days of his arrival at Llandarcy Academy of Sport meant that he missed last season in its entirety, returning to full training for this pre-season.

Having come through the summer months, Steenkamp then stepped up his involvement with an appearance in the pre-season win over Saracens before making his competitive debut, starting in the PRO12 opener away to Ulster. A 2nd appearance followed off the bench against Munster the following week but he then found himself sidelined once again, after reporting hip instability to the region’s medical team.

After further investigation, the player underwent surgery at the weekend and, having assessed all options both parties have agreed to the early release.

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Marcos Ayerza

Marcos Ayerza

Argentina loosehead prop Marcos Ayerza, who was set to start for Los Pumas in the bronze final against the Springboks on Friday, has been ruled out of the game due to a hamstring injury sustained in training on Thursday, according to team doctor Guillermo Botto.

Team management have called up Santiago García Botta, a Belgrano Athletic prop with 5 Test caps under his belt, to take his place in the squad.

García Botta, 23, flew in from Buenos Aires on Thursday and will be on the replacements bench at the Olympic Stadium as Daniel Hourcade’s men take on South Africa for the right to finish 3rd at Rugby World Cup 2015.

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Fourie du Preez

Fourie du Preez

South Africa captain Fourie du Preez says Saturday’s semifinal defeat by New Zealand is likely to be his last game for his country after he picked up a facial injury.

Du Preez finished the match with a swollen eye and cheekbone and is doubtful for the bronze final on Friday.

Asked about his future, a dejected du Preez said: “I don’t know if that was my last game, I’ll see how the injury goes. That was probably my last game. I have got a broken tooth and I will be getting a check on my cheekbone tomorrow, but they don’t think it’s broken.

Scans taken after the match cleared the No 9 of a fractured cheekbone, but he does have a damaged tooth.

He will also have to wait and see if the swelling goes down before a decision is made if he will play against Argentina at the Olympic Stadium in London this coming Friday.

However, medical opinion is that he should be available.

The Springboks have been given 2 days off, before they will fit in a couple of training sessions – a full session on Wednesday and the captain’s run on Thursday – ahead of Friday’s meaningless encounter.

Team doctor Craig Roberts’s post match medical report had some other good news as well.

Flank Francois Louw, who received 16 stitches to his forehead for a deep cut, is available for selection.

“That won’t keep him out of play, it has healed up and it is fine,” Roberts told a media gathering.

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ArgentinaArgentina have dismissed Springbok suggestions that Friday’s bronze final does not mean anything and are determined to celebrate their attacking style at the tournament by beating their Rugby Championship rivals.

After his side narrowly lost to New Zealand 20 / 18 in Saturday’s 1st semifinal, South African coach Heyneke Meyer said it would be tough mentally to prepare for the clash at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. “It does not mean anything to me. It is like kissing your sister,” he said.

But, despite the disappointment of failing to get past Australia in their semifinal, Argentina captain Agustin Creevy and his squad were excited about trying to secure the 3rd place.

Asked about Meyer’s comments, Creevy said: “I don’t know why he said that. I would rather be 3rd than 4th. We want to be in the Top 3. We need to get over the defeat and start again. The 3rd-place playoff means a lot.”

Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, who scored all of Argentina’s points in the 29 / 15 defeat by the Wallabies, said: “We came here to play the final, but I think we gave it our all. The biggest challenge now is to finish on a high note and get the 3rd place.

“We’ve got a mentally very tough game ahead. This week probably won’t be as pleasant as this past one, but we’ll make a great effort to get the bronze medal.”

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Israel Folau

Israel Folau

David Pocock

David Pocock

Israel Folau and David Pocock are on course to return to Australia’s start line-up for the Rugby World Cup semifinal against Argentina on Sunday, coach Michael Cheika said Monday.

However, 1st choice prop Scott Sio is a doubt and is to undergo a scan on his elbow which forced him to leave the fray early in the thrilling 35 / 34 win over Scotland on Sunday.

Pocock – who in a stroke of genius has been switched from flanker to No 8 by Cheika and was instrumental in the pool game win over humiliated hosts England – missed the quarterfinal because of a calf injury he suffered in the 15 / 6 win over Wales.

Fullback Folau has been struggling with an ankle problem since the 33 / 13 win over the English and the game against Scotland was the 1st Test he had missed since making his debut in 2013.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

Israel Folau

Israel Folau

Key players David Pocock and Israel Folau handed Australia a double blow on Friday.

Both failed to prove their fitness and will miss the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal with Scotland on Sunday.

David Pocock, whose conversion to No 8, from openside flank, has been a roaring success, has been struggling with a calf injury suffered during the 15 / 6 Pool A victory over Wales last Saturday.

Fullback Israel Folau struggled through the Wales game with a painful ankle, a knock he had picked up in the 33 / 13 whipping of hosts England a fortnight ago, and the injury sees him miss his 1st Test for the Wallabies since he made his debut in 2013.

Pocock has been replaced by Ben McCalman, with Kurtley Beale coming in at fullback for Folau.

Meanwhile Stephen Moore and Matt Giteau will become the newest Wallabies centurions.

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Israel Folau

Israel Folau

David Pocock

David Pocock

Australian Wallaby stars Israel Folau and David Pocock are doubts for the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal with Scotland on Sunday.

However, they are both expected to train on Wednesday, coach Michael Cheika said.

Folau is trying to shake off an ankle problem that forced him off in the 33 / 13 whipping of hosts England and appeared to restrict his freedom of movement in the thrilling 15 / 6 victory over Wales last weekend.

Pocock, a revelation after being switched to No 8 from flank, is still battling a calf muscle injury that saw him leave the Wales game early and at a crucial period when they were down to 13 men.

There was better news regarding centre Matt Giteau, who is set to return to training after missing Tuesday’s session.

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Jonny Sexton in tears after injury

Jonny Sexton in tears after injury

Ireland are holding out hope that injury-hit flyhalf Jonny Sexton will be fit for Sunday’s quarterfinal against Argentina, according to assistant coach Les Kiss.

Sexton limped off after 25 minutes of Ireland’s hard-fought 24 / 9 victory over France last Sunday, a win that saw them undefeated in Pool D and avoiding a last-8 clash against defending champions New Zealand.

“Jonny has a slight adductor strain. There’s been some improvement. Hopefully we’ll see a little bit more on Wednesday and that’ll give us a clearer picture,” said Kiss.

“Each day will give us some more information.”

Kiss insisted head coach Joe Schmidt would not be rushed into a decision about picking Sexton, for whom Ian Madigan came on against the French, putting down his own marker with an astute play-making display.

“We have to be pragmatic about what works and it will probably come down to the last minute when we make the decision,” Kiss said.

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Rugby World Cup 2015The agony etched on the face of Ireland’s iconic captain Paul O’Connell said it all. Clutching a hamstring during the 24 / 9 win against France on Sunday, the giant lock’s pain was physical and emotional. The group stages were where his Rugby World Cup 2015 would end.

As bruised and battered players take a deep breath, head for the ice baths and prepare to go again in the quarterfinals, some of their less-fortunate teammates will be forced to watch those matches from the stands, or on television.

The withdrawal of O’Connell on Tuesday, hard on the heels of fellow Ireland players Jared Payne and Peter O’Mahony, means that all 8 teams left in the competition will enter the knockout stages depleted, in some way, by injuries.

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Liam Williams injured against Australia

Liam Williams injured against Australia

Liam Williams joined Wales’ World Cup casualty list after he was ruled out of the rest of the tournament on Sunday with a foot injury.

The 24-year-old Scarlets wing limped off with a foot problem during the 2nd half of Wales’ 15 / 6 Pool A defeat by Australia’s Wallabies at Twickenham on Saturday.

“Disappointing news out of camp this morning. Liam Williams ruled out of Rugby World Cup with foot injury,” said a statement on the Welsh Rugby Union’s Twitter feed on Sunday.

He is the 6th member of Wales’ original Rugby World Cup squad to be ruled out because of injury following Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb, Scott Williams, Hallam Amos and Cory Allen.

Williams had to overcome a foot injury just to gain a place in coach Warren Gatland’s original 31-man squad.

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Peter O'Mahony

Peter O’Mahony

Ireland flank Peter O’Mahony will play no further part in the Rugby World Cup after suffering knee ligament damage in his team’s victory over France.

There were continuing doubts over the future participation of captain and lock Paul O’Connell and flyhalf Jonny Sexton, who both went off injured in a ferocious 1st half of Sunday’s match won 24 / 9 by the Irish at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

“Peter O’Mahony suffered a knee ligament injury and is returning to Dublin. He will play no further part in the World Cup,” said Ireland team manager Michael Kearney.

“Paul O’Connell suffered a significant hamstring injury and was hospitalised overnight.”

Sexton, who limped off in the 25th minute, sustained a “groin injury” and was awaiting scans later Monday, Kearney said.

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Kieran Read sitting on the 'Naughty Chair" after being Yellow Carded in the Tonga game

Kieran Read sitting on the ‘Naughty Chair” after being Yellow Carded in the Tonga game

The New Zealand All Blacks’ image as surefire Rugby World Cup winners is starting to fade.

Not only critics, but also the team’s fans, are beginning to question coach Steve Hansen’s master plan.

Even Kieran Read, the stand-in captain for Friday’s 47 / 9 win over Tonga, admitted there were problems to be addressed.

Hansen put on a bold front after the game, declaring himself “very happy” with the way things are going.

“What’s happening now is irrelevant. What happens next week will be and it’s about maintaining performances from here on in and winning,” he said after Tonga finally folded at St James’ Park.

“We had a plan and we stuck to that plan now we have to wait to see if it works.”

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Jacques Burger

Jacques Burger

Namibia captain Jacques Burger has been ruled out of his country’s final Pool C game against Argentina on Sunday, thereby ending an illustrious international career.

Burger suffered a confirmed concussion, 9 minutes into the match against Georgia on Wednesday evening at Sandy Park in Exeter and will not be able to play against the Argentinian Pumas in Leicester.

Burger’s test career for Namibia spanned over 9 years and 36 caps, which included 3 Rugby World Cup appearances in 2007, 2011 and 2015. Last night he equalled Hugo Horn’s 11 Rugby World Cup appearances for his country.

Before the team’s departure for Leicester on Thursday morning, Burger reflected on his career.

“It was a huge disappointment that I could not complete last night’s match and an even bigger disappointment that I will not be able to play on Saturday. I am very proud of my team and it is not the way that you would want to end an international career. But that’s the game of rugby for you.”

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Israel Folau in the air, against England

Israel Folau in the air, against England

Australian Wallabies star Israel Folau is battling to be fit for their final Pool A clash – the table-topping decider with Wales.

Assistant coach Stephen Larkham delivered the bad news to the media.

Folau, lynchpin of the Wallabies formidable backline, did not train on Monday, but got a run out on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old is still feeling the effects of the knock to the ankle that forced him to quit the action in the devastating 33 / 13 defeat they inflicted on hosts England last Saturday.

While he is still in the game to play the Welsh, little hope is given to wing Rob Horne, who left the England match in the 10th minute because of a shoulder injury.

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Howard Mnisi

Howard Mnisi

There seems to be no stopping the Xerox Golden Lions on the field as well as off it, as injuries seems to be something they need not worry about.

Following their resounding 62 / 32 victory over DHL Western Province in Johannesburg, the Golden Lions only picked up 4 minor knocks but all the players are available for selection for their final Currie Cup round-robin fixture against ORC Griquas.

MB Lusaseni has recovered enough from a shoulder injury to be available for selection while hooker Mark Pretorius will also be available for selection after recovering from his knee niggle.

There is also good news in midfield for the Johannesburg side as centres Rohan Janse van Rensburg (shoulder) and Howard Mnisi (hamstring) have both recovered from slight knocks picked up against Western Province.

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Cheslin Kolbe

Cheslin Kolbe

3 DHL Western Province players have found themselves on the injury list following their massive defeat to the Xerox Golden Lions in Johannesburg.

Kobus van Wyk (hamstring contusion), Chris Cloete (calf muscle) and Cheslin Kolbe (bone bruising and a knock to shoulder) are all unavailable for selection for their final round-robin match against the Eastern Province Kings at Newlands on Friday.

The trio joins Scarra Ntubeni (calf muscle) and Rynhardt Elstadt (quadricep), who remains on the injured list and are also unavailable.

There is a silver lining for the Cape side though, as both Jano Vermaak and Dillyn Leyds have recovered from their groin strains and are available for selection.

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Waisake Naholo

Waisake Naholo

New Zealand All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo, on the comeback trail from a broken leg, is again under an injury cloud and in doubt for their final Pool C match against Tonga on Friday.

The try-scoring specialist is in need of game time after being sidelined for 3 months and the All Blacks will wait until the last minute before naming their team on Wednesday to decide if he will be fit enough to play.

Naholo missed the All Blacks 1st 2 games as he completed his recovery from a leg fracture.

He then exploded onto the Rugby World Cup stage with a sensational try, with his 1st touch of the ball in the 3rd game against Georgia which the All Blacks won 43 / 10 to confirm their quarterfinal berth.

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