Rugby World Cup: Wales fly-half Gareth Anscombe ruled out of tournament

Gareth Anscombe being helped off at Twickenham
Gareth Anscombe being helped off at Twickenham

Gareth Anscombe has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup after injuring a knee in Wales' 33-19 defeat by England.

Fly-half Anscombe, 28, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury and hobbled off in the first half of the World Cup warm-up at Twickenham.

Anscombe is expected to be out for up to nine months and miss most of the 2019/20 season.

His void leaves Dan Biggar, Jarrod Evans and Rhys Patchell as three fly-halves in Wales' World Cup reckoning.

"He's done his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and a meniscus as well," said Wales coach Warren Gatland.

"He did it when he made the break down the sideline. It wasn't from a tackle, he's just stepped off his right leg. You can see the jarring on the video.

"He said to the physios he felt he had jarred his knee and stayed on thinking he could run it off.

"He asked the physios if he'd done any more damage, and they said: 'No, you'd already done that and it wasn't going to get any worse'.

"Unfortunately, he's going to require surgery and it's going to keep him out for most of the season."

In a social media post, Anscombe said: "Not quite the way I was hoping my World Cup dream would finish. Been a pretty tough 24 hours to take but I'm very thankful and humbled for all the kind well wishes.

"Still wrapping my head around what's happened and what's next but I'm excited to watch this @welshrugbyunion team go on and do something special. #cmoncymru."

Wales had already lost British and Irish Lions back-rower Taulupe Faletau to a collarbone problem, while Cardiff Blues scrum-half Tomas Williams is awaiting a scan on a shoulder injury.

It is a major blow for Wales with Anscombe having established himself as Gatland's first choice 10 ahead of Biggar during the last year.

Biggar replaced Anscombe against England and is in pole position to be the starting fly-half at the World Cup in Japan.

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Don't read too much into defeat - Wales boss Gatland

With Anscombe ruled out, there are 40 players in Gatland's World Cup squad which will be reduced to the final 31-strong party at the beginning of September.

It is also a blow for Anscombe's new side Ospreys after he joined from Cardiff Blues in April 2019, with the New Zealand-born player in danger of missing most of the 2019-20 season.

Welsh Rugby Uniion will pay Anscombe's wages whiles he is sidelines while helping Ospreys find a replacement.

In the build-up to the England game, Gatland said criticism of Wales playing four warm-ups was "fair".

Wales play England again in Cardiff on Saturday, 17 August followed by another double-header against Ireland in Cardiff on 31 August and 7 September in Dublin as they prepare for the World Cup in Japan.

Wales' Pool D campaign begins against Georgia in Tokyo on Monday, 23 September followed by games against Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.

Analysis

Former Wales fly-half and captain Jonathan Davies:

It's very disappointing, mainly for Gareth Anscombe himself and the squad. That's the risk you take when you're playing these friendlies, you've got to watch out for injuries.

Taulupe Faletau is a world-class player and you want to have your best players available during the World Cup, so to lose Faletau and then Anscombe is two big players and two big blows.

They are two tremendous footballers and for me I think perhaps that's what Wales are lacking.

If they pick Dan Biggar it will affect Wales' style of play a great deal because they are different types of player. In the Six Nations Anscombe played football and then Dan came on to close the game.

Jarrod Evans and Rhys Patchell have the opportunity now to step up in training and those two are very similar to the way Anscombe plays.

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