The Latest: Ticket sales top 1.8 million for first Asia RWC
TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on Day 15 of the Rugby World Cup in Japan (all times local):
Ticket sales have topped 1.8 million for the first Rugby World Cup staged in Asia.
Organizers said minor reconfigurations in some venues and returns from commercial partners meant there were a small number of tickets still available.
“To have surpassed our target of 1.8 million tickets sold is an incredible achievement,” Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 organizing committee chief executive Akira Shimazu said. “It underlines just how much this tournament has captured the imagination of rugby fans both here in Japan and throughout the world.”
Organizers said some fans with tickets purchased through unofficial sources had been denied access at the stadiums and urged spectators to beware of touts.
“While the numbers are relatively small compared to the tens of thousands of fans who have enjoyed matches without issue, incidences are likely to increase as demand for tickets reaches fever-pitch with remaining pool matches set to determine which teams go through to the knock-out stages,” organizers said in a statement.
Japan’s shocking win over an Ireland team that was ranked No. 1 before the tournament has increased attention on the hosts. Japan can secure a spot in the quarterfinals for the first time with a win over Samoa on Saturday.
Tonga had coach Toutai Kefu has made two changes for Sunday’s Rugby World Cup Pool C match against France at Kumamoto Stadium.
The changes from the 28-12 loss to Argentina see tight-head prop Ma'afu Fia replacing Ben Tameifuna and Cooper Vuna _ who played two test matches for Australia in 2012 _ coming in for Viliami Lolohea on the right wing.
Tameifuna and Lolohea drop out of the match-day 23.
Two players remain from the side which upset France 19-14 at the 2011 World Cup: blindside flanker Sione Kalamafoni and inside centre Siale Piutau.
They also started when Tonga lost 38-18 to France in 2013, and they will equal the national record for World Cup matches with their 11th appearances.
Six of Tonga’s 23 played their club rugby in France last season.
Tonga: Telusa Veainu, Cooper Vuna, Malietoa Hingano, Siale Piutau (captain), David Halaifonua, James Faiva, Sonatane Takulua; Maama Vaipulu, Zane Kapeli, Sione Kalamafoni, Leva Fifita, Sam Lousi, Ma'afu Fia, Paula Ngauamo, Siegfried Fisiihoi. Reserves: Sosefo Sakalia, Vunipola Fifita, Siua Halanukonuka, Sitiveni Mafi, Nasi Manu, Leon Fukofuka, Latiume Fosita, Atieli Pakalani.
France has been hit by two more injuries at the Rugby World Cup, with fullback Thomas Ramos and hooker Peato Mauvaka ruled out of the tournament.
Neither is a first-choice player, but Ramos played in Wednesday’s 33-9 win against the United States and twisted his ankle during the game.
He is replaced in head coach Jacques Brunel’s squad by Vincent Rattez, who has two test caps.
Mauvaka hurt his thigh during a training session on Tuesday and relinquishes his spot to Christopher Tolofua, who has seven caps.
The replacement players are expected to arrive on Saturday night or Sunday morning, the French Rugby Federation said.
France plays Tonga in Pool C on Sunday and then faces archrival England on Oct. 12.
Les Bleus have also lost prop Demba Bamba and center Wesley Fofana to thigh injuries.
Jordie Barrett will play flyhalf for New Zealand for the first time in a reworked All Blacks lineup to take on Namibia on Sunday.
Jordie Barrett, backrower Shannon Frizell and center Jack Goodhue are the only players retained in the starting XV from New Zealand’s 63-0 win over Canada at Oita. Three Barrett brothers played against Canada, with regular playmaker Beauden at fullback and Scott in the tight five.
Sam Whitelock, one of three players involved in the 2015 Rugby World Cup win over Namibia, will captain the All Blacks.
Whitelock has won all five of his previous tests when starting as All Blacks captain.
New Zealand: Ben Smith, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Anton Linert-Brown, George Bridge, Jordie Barrett, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, Sam Cane, Shannon Frizell, Sam Whitelock (captain), Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Matt Todd, Brad Weber, TJ Perenara, Rieko Ioane.
Winger Taylor Paris has become the third Canadian to exit the Rugby World Cup due to injury.
The 26-year-old from Barrie, Ontario, came on as a replacement in Canada's 63-0 loss to New Zealand on Wednesday in Oita, Japan, but was forced off after a concussion.
Rugby Canada said he will be replaced on the World Cup roster by Toronto Arrows winger Kainoa Lloyd. No stranger to World Cup heartbreak, Paris missed the 2015 tournament after suffering a knee injury on the eve of the competition.
The Canadian team has already lost centers Nick Blevins and Ben LeSage to injury. They were replaced by Guiseppe du Toit and Theo Sauder after suffering a fractured jaw and hand injury, respectively, in Canada's opening 48-7 loss to Italy.
Canada faces South Africa on Tuesday in Kobe.
Johan Deysel is fit to start and captain Namibia against New Zealand in their Pool B match on Sunday in Tokyo.
Following a shoulder injury, Deysel came off the bench in Namibia's last match, a 57-3 loss to South Africa last Saturday.
Deysel is back at inside center. He scored a try against New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup.
Namibia resembles more the lineup which lost its opener to Italy 47-22 in Fukuoka, with nine of the starting XV back.
Namibia: Johan Tromp, Lesley Klim, Justin Newman, Johan Deysel (captain), JC Greyling, Helarius Axasman Kisting, Damian Stevens; Janco Venter, Thomasau Forbes, Prince Gaoseb, Tjiuee Uanivi, PJ Van Lill, AJ De Klerk, Torsten George Van Jaarsveld, Andre Rademeyer. Reserves: Obert Nortje, Nelius Theron, Johannes Coetzee, Johan Retief, Adriaan Booysen, Eugene Jantjies, Darryl De La Harpe, Janry du Toit.
The anti-doping message will be spelled out clearly at the Rugby World Cup this weekend when all 620 players as well as match officials and management of all 20 teams wear their Keep Rugby Clean t-shirts at games and public events in Japan.
World Rugby said the weekend was a key education strategy to deter doping, assist players in making informed ethical decisions, and promote the importance of healthy approaches to medication and nutrition.
All teams at the Rugby World Cup have been subjected to a pre-event testing, with programs for each country coordinated with national anti-doping agencies. Blood, urine and biological passport tests have been conducted at a combination of training sessions, players’ homes, team hotels and matches.
"Doping is the biggest threat to the integrity of sport and the fight against doping begins with education,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement Friday. “Rugby is a sport built on strong character-building values of respect, integrity, passion, discipline and solidarity and every player has the right to complete on a level playing field. Keep Rugby Clean weekend is a key element of our education strategy to deter doping and promote the importance of a maintaining a healthy, balanced diet."
There are some big matches across the third weekend of the tournament, kicking off Friday night with two-time champions South Africa against Italy in Pool B.
On Saturday, England and Argentina meet in Tokyo, Japan is aiming to clinch a quarterfinal spot for the first time with a win over Samoa at Toyota, and Australia is against Uruguay at Oita.
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