England are doing quite a lot right at this World Cup, let’s not kick them for it | Ugo Monye

Negativity over Japan victory is misplaced but a more clinical display in the opposition 22 will be expected against Chile

England are two wins from two at the World Cup and have collected nine points from a maximum of 10. Still it would appear that’s not quite enough for some fans. Last week against Japan, kicking was a hot topic and talking point. But I would ask the question: who made the most kicks in the game, England or Japan? The answer was Japan.

However, the narrative post-match was that England kicked everything and Japan played some nice rugby and produced moments of magic. Here is the difference between perception and reality and it should be noted that Japan didn’t score a single try whereas England scored four and won the game comfortably.

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Chile’s band of brothers channel school rivalries at Rugby World Cup

With four sets of siblings and most in the squad being from one of two schools, bonds run deep against England on Saturday

When it comes to international sport, relationship-building is key. Forming partnerships, refining combinations, gradually building a sense of togetherness. It all helps a team navigate the most challenging times, and is often the difference between success and failure.

Strong squad ties are a major reason that Chile, who face England in Lille on Saturday, qualified for their first Rugby World Cup with a dramatic playoff win against the USA last July.

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‘Course I meant it’: England score try after Joe Marler’s headed assist – video

England prop Joe Marler accidentally claimed a bizarre assist with his head, helping teammate Courtney Lawes to score their second try. In rugby, if the ball goes forward off a player’s hands or arm, the opposition are awarded a scrum. If the ball goes forward off any other part of the body however, including the head or face, it is a legal play. The assist was allowed and England ultimately beat Japan 34-12.

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England v Japan: Rugby World Cup 2023 – as it happened

England claimed a bonus point win in a sweltering Nice

8 mins. Very good set from Japan, who work the ball left to right across the halfway before Matsushima slides a kick into the corner which Daly can gather from Ford, but is then forced into touch.

Japan claim the lineout, but the timing in the backs is a little off, allowing Marler to clamp onto an isolated runner to win a penalty.

6 mins. England have received a kick twice and each time they have worked it left for a kick in behind Matsushima on the Japanese right wing. The third kick they field is then launched high by Ford towards the same area.

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England’s World Cup evolution must continue against dangerous Japan | Ugo Monye

After impressing in their opening victory over Argentina, Steve Borthwick’s men should now look to add silk to their steel

It is typical of England as a sporting nation that we can write off a team for a couple of months, they then dig out a defiant victory against Argentina and suddenly we expect them to stick 40 points on Japan. That is the nature of the expectation that comes with representing England, however, and it is something Steve Borthwick’s side must confront this weekend.

The challenge stems from the fact that it is a completely different test against Japan. England face opponents who like to play at tempo and, although Borthwick’s men managed to get the job emphatically done against Argentina without doing so, they will have to score tries this weekend. Drop goals and penalties are all well and good but England will have to demonstrate their ability to play more expansively and continue their evolution.

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Danny Cipriani: ‘I wasn’t a maverick. I was a decision maker’

The former England international reflects on conservatism stifling the game, grappling with grief and rediscovering his sense of self

“I do feel our country is fucked,” Danny Cipriani says calmly on a murky, rainy morning in Tunbridge Wells. The former England rugby player has been talking about his tumultuous life and career, without bitterness or rancour, for almost two hours, and he seems happier than at any point in the 15 years we have known each other. His reflections on the state of England are striking as Cipriani is not trying to shock or insult anyone.

Instead, he explores a deeper malaise of conservatism, deceit and insularity which affects the country politically, culturally and in the struggles of English rugby. “Our culture and society is very rigid and it’s always trying to look like it’s doing the right thing,” Cipriani continues. “But if you’re trying to look like you’re doing the right thing, you’ll never actually do the right thing, because it’s all an act. It has to come from a place of faith and purity, love and honesty.”

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Tom Curry to miss two Rugby World Cup matches after ban for dangerous tackle

  • Curry and England accept charge of foul play against Argentina
  • Back-rower will miss pool matches against Japan and Chile

Tom Curry will miss England’s next two World Cup matches against Japan and Chile after he was suspended for his red card in their opening pool match against Argentina last Saturday.

Curry accepted that his tackle on Argentina’s Juan Cruz Mallía warranted a red card at his disciplinary hearing on Tuesday and was handed a three-match ban, which will be reduced to two provided the flanker attends “tackle school”.

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Dan Biggar claims Wales took inspiration from England in victory over Fiji

  • England defeated Argentina despite early red card for Curry
  • Biggar: ‘We said that we needed to have a similar sort of mindset’

Dan Biggar has revealed that England’s stirring victory over Argentina helped underpin Wales’ mindset against Fiji. Wales dug deep in adversity, making 253 tackles as they held on for a thrilling 32-26 win that strengthened their hopes of reaching a fourth successive World Cup quarter-final.

England’s demolition job on the Pumas 24 hours earlier, which came despite them having the flanker Tom Curry sent off, did not go unnoticed in the Wales camp.

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World Cup officials apologise for chaos before England v Argentina in Marseille

  • Overcrowding led to many fans fearing for their safety
  • Use of more volunteers among steps to ensure no repeat

Rugby World Cup organisers have apologised for the chaotic scenes that marred England’s victory over Argentina on Saturday night, with hundreds of supporters forced to miss the start of the match amid lengthy queues and crushes outside the Stade Velodrome.

Half an hour before the start of the match, a large crowd could be seen bunched behind one of the two main gates, with many people subsequently delayed in taking their seats due to the limited number of entry points at the venue. The sheer weight of numbers led to reports of crushes outside the ground, and while France 2023 have announced there were no incidents, and all 63,118 seats were eventually taken, some supporters were concerned for their safety.

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Alex Mitchell is a vibrant, running No 9 who can make England more adventurous | Ugo Monye

Steve Borthwick’s selection of scrum-half is fascinating – and a recognition that England need to move the dial on their game

Alex Mitchell’s selection at scrum‑half fascinates me. Has he really improved so much in the space of a month in Steve Borthwick’s eyes that he has managed to go from outside the World Cup squad looking in to starting England’s crucial pool‑stage match? Or is his selection a recognition that his style of play runs in tandem with what brings out the best in this England? I believe it is the latter and Borthwick needs to be given his fair share of credit for that.

There’s an opinion that Borthwick is quite set in his ways. It was very clear how Leicester went about things and he’s continued that with England. But it’s also important to have malleable thinking, look at what you’ve got and then say: “I know this has got me success to this point but we need to slightly change what we do.” I’d have thought those conversations would have taken place with players such as Owen Farrell, George Ford – they’re as close as you’d get to coaches on the field – as well as Ellis Genge and Courtney Lawes. We’ve got a great brains trust to be able to figure out the direction of travel for the game.

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The Breakdown | Cipriani lifts lid on English rugby’s great flaw: a mistrust of mavericks

Fly-half reveals much in his new book, not least the preference for pragmatists over visionaries that still holds England back

Danny Cipriani’s new autobiography Who Am I? has been causing a bit of a stir, even in a busy week for rugby. Suffice to say, if the former England fly-half had represented his country as successfully and frequently as he says he chatted up the nation’s women, his caps record would never be beaten.

The line that really hit the spot, however, had nothing to do with his – how to put this best – lively personal life. Forget the “squad” rotation details serialised in The Times and focus instead on Cipriani’s thoughts about why England were so reluctant to pick him. For years, he suggests, they have been keener to pick players who are the quickest to get back up off the floor after a ruck or a tackle, a traditional indicator of both desire and fitness. Cipriani sees it slightly differently. “I’m thinking, ‘Who gives a shit? Surely it’s more important what they do when they’re actually on their feet?’”

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