September 25, 2023

Gregor Townsend expects Scotland v Ireland to be a shootout for last eight

Coach in upbeat mood after Tonga dispatched 45-17 in NiceScotland face Romania in hunt for bonus point on SaturdayThe Scotland coach, Gregor Townsend, says he expects their meeting with Ireland in Paris on Saturday week to be a “straight shootout” for a World Cup quarter-final place.Tonga were dispatched by Townsend’s team at the Stade de Nice on Sunday, an attacking bonus point secured by half-time in a 45-17 win featuring seven different try-scorers. Continue reading...
September 23, 2023

RMN review – racial tensions mount in a small Transylvanian town

Based on real-life events, Cristian Mungiu’s slow-burn drama about a community consumed by xenophobia is unflinching in its examination of Romanian society Hate is not something that erupts suddenly in the dour but powerful latest picture by the Romanian director Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days). Rather, in this examination of the viscous trickle of bad blood in a small Transylvanian village, it grows incrementally at first malign and cancerous, until it has metastasised into every part of the community. RMN – the title is the Romanian abbreviation for an MRI – fitting for a picture that takes a scalpel to the sickness at the heart of its society – is inspired by an actual event. In 2020, xenophobia towards newly arrived south-east Asian migrant workers consumed the residents of the Transylvanian town of Ditrău. It would be easy to paint the village as a community of monsters. Still, while you probably wouldn’t rush to relocate there, Mungiu is less interested in blanket condemnation and more in excavating the roots of the anger that, he suggests, run generations deep.Mungiu has always been a director who favours a slow-burn approach to his storytelling. Here, he keeps a wary distance from his characters. Don’t expect emotionally charged extreme closeups, even of the main characters – bread factory manager Csilla (Judith State), her brutish on-off boyfriend Matthias (Marin Grigore). This measured, contemplative approach works supremely well, gradually tightening its grip as the tensions in the community mount. The space that Mungiu leaves, both physically, with his immaculately composed wide shots, and temporally, in the unhurried plotting, allows for a satisfying complexity, and an eventual swerve into dreamlike symbolism. Unfortunately, this final element is perhaps the least successful moment in the film, muddying the acutely pessimistic clarity of what comes before. Continue reading...
September 19, 2023

Romanian steel: how Theo Dan’s grandfather forged his love for rugby

The England hooker has gone from Ampthill in the Championship to the World CupTheo Dan’s rapid rise into the England ranks came thanks to a breakthrough season at Saracens – via a stint at Ampthill – but it was forged in Romanian steel. His grandfather, an engineer from Bucharest, was a keen player in his day and built a set of posts for Dan to learn his trade, locking horns with his cousins for days on end in the long summers of his youth.The 22-year-old speaks Romanian with his parents – who moved to the UK in the late 1990s – with the odd word of English thrown in and he was due to spend another summer in Romania until a call from Steve Borthwick. The England head coach informed him he would be capping a fine season, one that began in the Championship but ended with Saracens’ victory in the Premiership final, with a place in England’s training squad for the World Cup. Continue reading...
September 19, 2023

South Africa go big and bold with reboot of forward heavy bench against Ireland

Springboks opt for 7-1 split in favour of forwards in reserveEtzebeth fit to play for South Africa with Libbok starting at 10The influential Eben Etzebeth is fit to face Ireland this weekend and has been included in a power-laden South Africa side for the pivotal Pool B match at the Stade de France on Saturday. The Springboks have also opted to roll out a forward-dominated bench with just one backline specialist among their replacements.Etzebeth missed South Africa’s game against Romania with a sore shoulder which had previously forced him off early against Scotland but is back for one of the biggest collisions of the tournament to date. A Springbok win would effectively cement them as pool winners and leave Ireland sweating on their game against Scotland to guarantee qualification for the knockout stages. Continue reading...
September 17, 2023

Reinach and Mapimpi lead South Africa to Rugby World Cup rout of Romania

Pool B: South Africa 76-0 RomaniaSpringboks score 12 tries to set up huge clash with IrelandSouth Africa’s scrum-half Cobus Reinach and the winger Makazole Mapimpi each scored a hat-trick of tries as their side cruised to a 76-0 win over Romania in Pool B of the Rugby World Cup.The Springboks had their bonus point within 12 minutes as they overwhelmed Romania with a fast start, before the heavens opened and the rain made for more challenging conditions. Continue reading...
September 15, 2023

Rugby World Cup 2023: what to look out for on the second weekend

South Africa’s selection puzzler; Samoa want more time with tier one; Tshiunza’s steep learning curve; and fuelling with baguettesAfter their opening win against Scotland, South Africa get a second crack at Pool B on Sunday evening against Romania in Bordeaux. While much has been made of the world champions’ squad depth, the loss of the hooker Malcolm Marx to a knee injury this week was a significant setback on and off the field. Continue reading...
September 14, 2023

Molars to mauls: Portugal’s captain sinks teeth into World Cup chance | Nick Ames

Tomás Appleton has swapped his dental surgery for the rugby pitch and says his team’s sights are set on upsetting Wales“We want to be more than a presence here,” reflects Tomás Appleton as he surveys the precipitous challenge that lies ahead for Portugal. Os Lobos return to the World Cup on Saturday after a 16-year absence and there are few outside who would give them a prayer in arguably the tournament’s toughest pool. Wales may not quake at the prospect of facing a nation that haemorrhaged points back in 2007 but, along with the side he captains, Appleton senses an opportunity to show things have changed.“They were our idols when I was a kid,” he says of the players who, on their debut among the elite, managed to score tries in thumping defeats against Scotland, New Zealand and Italy before coming relatively close to a famous win over Romania. “We want to follow in their footsteps but we also want to compete, win games, be sure of ourselves. Our preparations are so different from everything we’ve had in the past. I’m not saying we’re going to win the tournament or anything like that, but we’re there to be competitive and if we do that we’ll make some surprises.” Continue reading...
September 14, 2023

Injured South Africa hooker Malcolm Marx ruled out of Rugby World Cup

64-times capped forward suffered knee injury in trainingSpringboks have no plans to call up a replacementSouth Africa have announced Malcolm Marx has been ruled out of the remainder of the Rugby World Cup through injury. The 29-year-old hooker sustained a knee injury in training and will not feature in any of the Springboks’ remaining fixtures, including Sunday’s match against Romania in Bordeaux.This comes after the forward played 58 minutes in South Africa’s opening 18-3 win over Scotland last week as they began their defence of their 2019 crown. Continue reading...
September 12, 2023

Questionable clashes, crowds and anthems: Rugby World Cup gets off to shaky start – video

The Rugby World Cup has already enthralled fans with some exciting games, though it has also come under scrutiny. Fans were in uproar after some controversial refereeing decisions saw three similar incidents awarded three very different consequences. A number of games in the opening weekend saw problems for fans, including large crowds outside of the stadiums, with Bordeaux's stadium even running out of water and beer for the Ireland v Romania game in the hot weather. Tournament organisers have also brought in a children's choir to accompany the national anthems, a decision which has gone down poorly on social media. In recent days however, organisers have worked to rectify these teething problems in the hope of making this Rugby World Cup one for the history booksWorld Cup officials apologise for chaos before England v Argentina in Marseille Continue reading...
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