France fly-half David Skrela has joined England prop Andrew Sheridan in being ruled out of the Rugby World Cup with a shoulder injury. Skrela suffered the injury 11 minutes after coming on as a second-half replacement for Francois Trinh-Duc in France's opening victory over Japan. France coach Marc Lievremont has called the uncapped Toulouse fly-half Jean-Marc Doussain into the squad as Skrela's replacement.
Dan Carter has been withdrawn from the New Zealand team to play Japan on Friday after failing to recover from a lower back injury. Carter suffered a stiff back in New Zealand's opening Rugby World Cup victory over Tonga and the All Blacks have decided not to risk him ahead of their crunch Pool A showdown with France.
Sean O'Brien, Rob Kearney and Cian Healy will return to the side for Ireland's key World Cup group clash with Australia at Eden Park on Saturday. Four changes have been made to the XV that secured an unconvincing 22-10 victory over the United States, with Eoin Reddan's selection ahead of Conor Murray completing the new arrivals.
Wing Bryan Habana is the latest first-choice South Africa player who will miss the Springboks' clash with Fiji on Saturday. Habana sustained a slight knee injury in the world champions' 17-16 victory over Wales in their Pool D opener last Sunday in Wellington. The flying winger joins veteran locks Victor Matfield (hamstring) and Bakkies Botha (Achilles), and centre Jean de Villiers (ribs), as confirmed absentees for the Fiji match.
Aurelien Rougerie will skipper France for the first time in the World Cup match against Japan on Sunday. The 31-year-old Clermont player was a key member of the French squad under previous coach Bernard Laporte, but he failed to get off on the right foot with Marc Lievremont when he took over as coach after the last World Cup. "We did not hit it off at first," admitted Rougerie, who has won 65 caps. "I think there was a lack of communication between us."
Rugby World Cup debutants Russia face a stiff test against USA in their opening match on Thursday but team director Kingsley Jones insists an upset is possible. The Americans impressed in a 22-10 defeat by Ireland but Welshman Jones said: "They are a good side and they have got some very good players playing at a good level, but we believe we have a very good chance of getting a win. But we have to play at our best to get the first upset (of this tournament)."
Argentina prop Martin Scelzo has revealed he nearly missed the opening match against England because he packed away by mistake two left rugby boots into his case before leaving for New Zealand. It was impossible to find replacement shoes big enough for him in New Zealand and Scelzo had to resort to trainers as the Pumas prepared for the game. Luckily for him a supporter brought new boots out from Buenos Aires shortly before the game was about to start.
The first streaker at this year's World Cup is set to escape punishment despite a special new law in New Zealand designed to deal specifically with naked pitch invaders at the tournament. The first streaker of the 2011 World Cup, a 23-year-old man from Dunedin, ran onto the field during England's 13-9 win over Argentina at the town's Otago Stadium on Saturday. New Zealand law allows for 'police diversion' whereby those facing minor charges can escape a criminal record if they are a first-time offender, admit their offending, show remorse and offer to make reparation to the victim or community. Inspector Dave Campbell of Dunedin Police told the Otago Daily Times (ODT) that the case of the streaker had met those criteria.