Rugby World Cup Daily: Eddie blames himself for Tupou, Skelton injuries

Will Eddie coach the Wallabies beyond the World Cup? (3:49)

The ESPN Scrum Reset discuss Eddie Jones' future as Wallabies coach and whether reports are enough to suggest he will pack it in and head for Japan. (3:49)

These daily files will give you the latest reporting from around the World Cup as well as betting lines, what to watch for information and best reads. Check in with ESPN throughout the tournament as we bring you the latest from France.

- RUGBY WORLD CUP 2023: Squads | Schedule | Standings | Podcast | Injuries

THE LEAD: Jones haunted by Skelton, Tupou injuries

The Wallabies continue to play the waiting game in Saint-Etienne, knowing there is little they can do but to keep training and hope that Portugal can round out the pool phase of Rugby World Cup 2023 by knocking off Fiji in what would be one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.

Not only do Os Lobos need to win to save the Wallabies' bacon, but they must also do so by more than seven points and stop the Fijians from scoring four tries in the process. It is indeed a tall order, but you only have to think back to the last World Cup when Fiji were stunned by Uruguay to know that it is not beyond the realms of possibility.

But Australia haven't been in control of their own destiny since their crushing 40-6 loss to Wales and it seems that, after a few days off, Wallabies coach Eddie Jones is finally starting to work out where it all went wrong.

Supporters back in Australia and those who made the trip to France -- or those arriving next week who thought they'd see the men in gold play at least one match -- would likely venture a few suggestions. But for the Wallabies coach himself, it was the management of training sessions post Australia's win over Georgia which he would like to do over, as first Taniela Tupou and then Will Skelton went down in the space of three days.

"The biggest loss we had in this tournament was losing Taniela and Will in one session and I blame myself for that," Jones told reporters at the team camp outside Saint Etienne on Friday.

"Just didn't get it right, the session. You never know with injuries, you never really know. But could we have done that a little bit differently? I keep thinking about that.

"To minimise the risk of damage, there's just an order of training, and the way you train. I hold my hands up."

While Tupou and Skelton weren't injured in the same session as Jones said, the fact they both picked up soft tissue injuries after facing Georgia in 35 degrees Celsius temperatures suggested the big men should have been better managed through the week.

The 35-15 win over Georgia followed a gruelling preparation for the Wallabies, which had taken them to Darwin in the final days before their departure, where the temperature and humidity also put the players to the test.

As fate would have it, both Skelton and Tupou would likely be fit to play if Portugal can do Australia the ultimate favour. But as it stands the forwards' 2023 World Cup campaign reads one match, one win - and a whole lot of pondering what might have been against Fiji and Wales otherwise.

Still, Skelton interjected and defended his coach, repeating earlier comments that he and the medical staff had been racking their brains, trying to find a reason why his calf pinged when it did.

"You can look at anything, if I had a half an hour more sleep, if I had drunk a litre more water. I think for those things, I'm in control," he said.

"Things happen and that's rugby, injuries happen during the week and in games. I (might) have got injured on the weekend against Fiji. It's unfortunate and I guess we've got to move on."


France blow away Italy to top Group A

Hosts France marched confidently into the World Cup quarterfinals as Pool A winners with an emphatic 60-7 bonus-point victory over a battle-scarred Italy in a festival atmosphere at OL Stadium on Friday.

Winger Damian Penaud scored a try in the second minute to settle any nerves over the absence of injured skipper Antoine Dupont and added his second before half time to move above Vincent Clerc as France's second most prolific try-scorer.

Fullback Thomas Ramos scored a try and kicked 15 points, Yoram Moefana grabbed a brace and Louis Bielle-Biarrey, Matthieu Jalibert and Peato Mauvaka also crossed as France racked up their biggest win in 48 meetings with their neighbours.

-- Reuters

Same same, but different tee for Sopoaga

Samoa flyhalf Lima Sopoaga never did get back the kicking tee he lost in Bordeaux last month but he will face England on Saturday with a bit of restored confidence after being sent a "lookalike" used tee by a coach in England.

Sopoaga had owned the original tee from the age of 14 but in the chaos after the victory over Chile he left it on the pitch and, despite a social media appeal, it was not returned.

"I've been sent one that is similar from a kicking coach in England, his name is Alex Davies," Sopoaga said on Thursday.

"He sent me an old one so it's kind of the same feel. I've taped it up and pretended it is the same one so hopefully I'm not shanking them on the weekend. If I am, then I am going to blame the tools."

The 32-year-old former All Black said the original tee had travelled the world with him and was "an extension of myself".

"It's the first thing I pack before I pack my boots. I'd rather forget my boots than my kicking tee," Sopoaga said.

All Blacks facing prop issues, again

New Zealand had little trouble running up a score against Uruguay in Lyon on Thursday night, with fullback Damian McKenzie starring in the 76-0 win.

That victory did little to shift their pool fortunes however, with the All Blacks having faced up to the reality they would finish second in Pool A, and face either Ireland, South Africa or Scotland in the quarterfinals.

Unless there is an implosion from Andy Farrell's team in Paris on Saturday night, the All Blacks opponents are likely to be Ireland in what will be one of the biggest quarterfinals in the tournament's history.

But All Blacks coach Ian Foster has some issues to confront beforehand, not least of which is a medial ligament injury to prop Tyrel Lomax, who was only just back from a nasty cut in his thigh he suffered against South Africa in London back in August.

"Fletcher [Newell] was largely precautionary on his knee, but Tyrel is a bit more serious," Foster said. "We don't know how bad it is. It looks like a medial, but doesn't look too bad. He's got a bucketload of ice on his knee at the moment and we'll look at that over the next 48 hours.

"Medial ligaments can be a small strain or a large strain. We won't know for another 24 hours, but he was moving OK afterwards. We'll look at him over the weekend, but fortunately we've got a couple of extra days [until the quarterfinal] which could be meaningful for us."

While the injury to tighthead Lomax is far from ideal, so too that suffered by Newell, the All Blacks will regain loosehead Ethan de Groot from suspension for their quarterfinal clash.


Wales vs. Georgia

Wales have done the hard yards and are closing in on a second straight sweep of their pool matches at the World Cup, but one final and potentially tricky encounter looms against Georgia. Remember it was only 11 months ago that the Georgians went to Cardiff and sank then coach Wayne Pivac's side, the result one of the key factors in Warren Gatland's return to the role a few weeks later. Wales have been a different side under Gatland, regaining their hardened edge that was the hallmark of his tenure, though the 40-6 thumping of Australia was also a sign of their development in his second coming. There is no Dan Biggar for this game, but after coming off the bench in that win over Australia, Gareth Anscombe is a proven deputy. The Georgians have struggled to find the tryline this campaign, often being their own worst enemies as the final pass went to ground - or was controversially ruled forward as the case was last week - but they will need to make every opportunity stick if they're to be any chance of an upset. It will be a comfortable win for Wales in all likelihood, though, the team riding a wave of momentum ahead of a quarterfinal against either Japan or Argentina.

TAB (tab.com.au): Wales $1.05, -16.5 $1.85, Georgia $10, +16.5 $1.95

England vs. Samoa

England could be forgiven for having one eye on the quarterfinals, given they have wrapped up top spot in Pool D regardless of what happens against Samoa. But this clash with the Pacific islanders is also an important hit-out after they had last week off, and trounced Chile the week before that. All eyes here will be on the reformed partnership of George Ford and Owen Farrell, who will make their 41st start together at No. 10 and 12 respectively. With Fiji their likely quarterfinal opponents, England will also want to finetune their set-piece and kicking games, knowing that they will be able to put the squeeze on Simon Raiwalui's team in those two areas next week. However, Samoa have shown that they won't roll over easily, and almost produced a memorable comeback against Japan while down to 14 men. Coach Seleila Mapusua has called on some fresh legs for this game, most notably Lima Sopoaga in the No. 10 jersey, while another former All Black Steven Luatua returns at No. 8. An upset is not beyond Samoa here, but they will need a bit of luck and must play to their absolute potential to get it. But you just feel that England will have too much class, and will build the scoreboard pressure early before pulling away to a comfortable win.

TAB (tab.com.au): England $1.07, -20.5 $1.85; Samoa $8.50, +20.5 $1.95

Ireland vs. Scotland

What a game this is to finish the penultimate day of pool action at Rugby World Cup 2023. The Irish and Scottish jerseys started to fill Paris on Friday afternoon, so you can only imagine what the atmosphere is going to be like come kick-off at Stade de France on Saturday night. Ireland are favourites and deservedly so, with Andy Farrell's side riding a 16-Test winning streak, taking the big scalps of South Africa [twice], France and New Zealand [twice] along the way. They are a team playing in perfect harmony with one another, each player understanding his role perfectly and how it fits in around conductor Jonny Sexton. Opposite Sexton is one of the game's great mavericks, Finn Russell, a player blessed with more daring and natural ability than just about any other man on the planet. But he needs time and space to be at his best, and Ireland will starve him of that, led by the man bringing up his 100th Test cap, Peter O'Mahony. Scotland's set-piece will likely come under pressure, too, so the quicker they play the better, both in general play and at the lineout and scrum. They have enough ability to make a nuisance of themselves and put Ireland under some pressure, but there is too much belief, accuracy and talent in this Irish squad for them to fall at this hurdle.

TAB (tab.com.au): Ireland $1.16, -10.5 $1.90; Scotland $5.20, +10.5 $1.90