Rugby World Cup match paused over strange rule as Owen Farrell faces axe

Rugby World Cup 2023: Day 20 highlights

The pool stage of the Rugby World Cup is now behind us and the knockouts have been decided, as a thoroughly entertaining opening stage of the tournament has seen plenty of twists and turns ahead of what promises to be a final few weeks of rugby in France.

Fiji just barely made it into the next round after picking up a losing bonus point in their 24-23 defeat to Portugal on Sunday evening, perhaps giving their next opponents England some more optimism that Steve Borthwick’s side can advance to the final four – despite an unconvincing final pool stage performance themselves.

The biggest surprise of the first few rounds was Australia’s shock exit. Defeats to both Fiji and Wales ensured that Eddie Jones’ side had a nightmare World Cup that was not helped by the head coach reportedly interviewing for the Japan job on the eve of the tournament.

While Ireland’s blockbuster 36-14 win over Scotland on Saturday secured both sides’ fate. Ireland topped their pool and will face New Zealand in the quarter-finals at the expense of Scotland, as their tournament came to an end after being drawn in a difficult pool.

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No regrets for Eddie Jones

Australia boss Eddie Jones has admitted that he has no regrets over the job he has done despite a disastrous World Cup campaign.

Defeats to both Fiji and Wales saw the Wallabies dumped out at the pool stage for the first time in their history – but Jones insists that he would not change his efforts.

“I don’t sit there thinking ‘s***, I wish I would have done that’,” he said. “I am not comfortable with the results, but I am comfortable with the way we’ve gone about this campaign, if that makes sense.

“When I came in, I assessed the playing pool and said we needed to make a change and it was high risk.

“This team is going to be a good team. We’re not the finished product yet but if you look at the players … there’s eight or 10 players that have the potential to be really good Test players.”

Dawson calls for Farrell axe

England icon Matt Dawson has called for captain Owen Farrell to be dropped from the team for the next quarter-final against Fiji.

Farrell and Ford were both deployed against Samoa but the experiment was short-lived, now Dawson believes that only Ford should continue in the starting lineup.

He told the BBC: “They’ve broken up the midfield that worked well against Japan and Argentina but Steve Borthwick is so loyal to Owen Farrell that it felt inevitable. There’s a part of me that thinks they brought George Ford off because they’ll need him next week.

“I cannot believe that anybody in the coaching staff thinks that Farrell is a better 10 than George Ford right now. I’d find that quite concerning if that was the case, therefore I’m going down the line of they must have just wanted to bring him [Ford] off.

“Or there’s a chance they’re trying a combination of [Marcus] Smith at full-back, [Freddie] Steward on the wing, Farrell at 10, some bigger ball-carriers in midfield. But again, it’s this notion of trying things at a World Cup [which is a problem].”

Fiji vs Portugal paused

Fiji’s match against Portugal entered a crucial late stage when players and supporters were bewildered when the game was paused.

In the 64th minute, the ball hit the overhead spider camera above the pitch – which offers bird’s-eye images to those watching on TV.

Referee Luke Pearce had to pause the game once the ball had landed and explained to both sets of players that the law states that the team that kicked the ball is awarded the put-in at a scrum after a brief pause in play.

Good morning

Hello and welcome to Express Sport’s live coverage of the Rugby World Cup. You can catch up with all of yesterday’s action in our previous live blog.

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