England vs Fiji LIVE rugby: Result and reaction as Pacific Islanders secure historic win

England vs Fiji LIVE rugby: Result and reaction as Pacific Islanders secure historic win

England hit a new low ahead of the Rugby World Cup after suffering a first ever defeat to Fiji.

The Pacific Islanders were deserved 30-22 winners on a stormy afternoon at Twickenham, thriving in testing conditions as England were beaten for the first time by a Tier Two nation.

It was a day where little went right for England after a bright start, with Steve Borthwick’s side struggling at the set piece and failing to consistently trouble a physical, accurate visiting defence.

Selestino Ravutaumada and Waisea Nayacalevu were among the stars in Fijian white as they danced to 27 second half points on a famous day for Pacific Island rugby.

And Simon Raiwalui’s team, who were missing Levani Botia and Josua Tuisova, must surely now be considered contenders to make a semi final at least at the tournament in France, with Wales, Australia and Georgia all eminently beatable in Pool C.

Borthwick and England, meanwhile, will head to their World Cup training base in Le Touquet on Thursday having won just once in their last six games.

England open their Pool D efforts against Argentina on Saturday 9 September.

Follow all the latest from England vs Fiji below.

England vs Fiji - Rugby World Cup warm-up

  • FULL TIME! England 22-30 Fiji

  • TRY! England 22-30 FIJI (Simione Kuruvoli try, 73 minutes)

  • TRY! ENGLAND 22-23 Fiji (Joe Marchant try, 69 minutes)

  • TRY! ENGLAND 15-20 Fiji (Marcus Smith try, 58 minutes)

  • TRY! England 8-17 FIJI (Vinaya Habosi try, 53 minutes)

  • TRY! England 8-10 FIJI (Waisea Nayacalevu try, 43 minutes)


  • YELLOW CARD! Eroni Mawi is sent to the sin bin! England 8-3 Fiji, 39 minutes

  • TRY! ENGLAND 8-0 Fiji (Jonny May try, 10 minutes)


Courtney Lawes also gives his reaction after a tough afternoon on cap number 100

18:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“it’s pretty disappointing, obviously. We just weren’t good enough in terms of the tackle area. We let them get their offload going and we paid for it.

“Like I said last week, we aren’t going to give up.”

Steve Borthwick reacts after England defeat

18:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“We are bitterly disappointed with it. Credit [Fiji] with an excellent performance. They pushed France very hard last week in France. I think they are going to do very well at the World Cup and there is the potential that we may meet them again in a few days time.

“Our focus is to be ready for Argentina. These games through warm-up are to make sure you are ready for the tournament and see the areas that you need to develop. Argentina will pose a different challenge and our approach will be steered very much towards what is required against Argentina.

“Everybody around the England team care deeply about the team and English rugby. We are very disappointed with the result today and some aspects of the performance.”

Steve Borthwick reacts after England defeat

18:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“Firstly I congratulate Fiji on their performance and deserved victory. They took their chances really well. We are bitterly disappointed. If you fall off that many tackles against a team like Fiji, they are going to score tries.

“We have two weeks to be very focussed on the performance that is required to beat Argentina. I thought the team started positively but made too many errors and slipped off too many tackles.”

Former England captain Dylan Hartley says England players ‘need to take ownership'

17:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“There is this narrative that this coaching set-up write the song and the team sing it,” Hartley says on Amazon Prime.

“This is the most experienced England squad you have ever seen on paper - it is a collaborative process. If George Ford, Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell are there nodding along, it is their fault. The players need to take ownership, so they are not playing a game plan they don’t believe in.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

FT: England suffer first ever defeat to Fiji to sink to new low ahead of World Cup

17:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It is, strictly, only a warm-up, but it is hard to convey the enormity of that result. This was a close to full strength England side, and Fiji were missing a couple of genuine stars - it mattered not!

FT: England suffer first ever defeat to Fiji to sink to new low ahead of World Cup

17:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Where do England go from here? Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse for Steve Borthwick and his side, well, that happens.


17:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

For the first time in their history, Fiji have beaten England!

Steve Borthwick’s side sink to a new low, but how about that performance from the Pacific Islanders? England were thoroughly out-fought, out-fought, and out-played.


17:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

England 22-30 Fiji, 80 minutes

17:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Fiji are going to beat England! Fiji are going to beat England. Danny Care explores the blindside but Max Malins runs out of room after the scrum half tries to set him away up the touchline. The clock is dead!

England 22-30 Fiji, 79 minutes

17:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Fiji’s attack is aimless, but it doesn’t really matter with the clock ticking ever closer to 80 minutes. They won’t much mind a knock-on, either - there are fewer than 50 seconds to play as the two front rows pack down.

England 22-30 Fiji, 78 minutes

17:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another penalty Fiji’s way. They are two minutes away.

England 22-30 Fiji, 76 minutes

17:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Penalty to the Pacific Islanders! The Fijian flags wave as their side defend with aggression and accuracy and turn England over five metres out from their own line. England’s players look to the heavens.

England 22-30 Fiji, 75 minutes

16:59 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England have already had one great escape at Twickenham during this Summer Nations Series - they need another here. Danny Care is on to try and spark it, with Fiji flying out of the line at every England carrier.

TRY! England 22-30 FIJI (Simione Kuruvoli try, 73 minutes)

16:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Is this a famous Fijian day?

The travelling fans go wild as Fiji open that advantage up again. The irrepressible Selestino Ravutaumada is the architect, his mad sketchings decipherable only by his teammates with England lost in a whirl of limbs. Ravutaumada lofts an offload which Simoine Kuruvoli collects - Caleb Muntz’s kick is true, too!

England 22-23 Fiji, 72 minutes

16:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England immediately make a hash of taking the restart, granting Fiji advanced possession. The Pacific Island side don’t make the most of it, losing control of a ruck, but when George Ford missees touch, back they will come...

TRY! ENGLAND 22-23 Fiji (Joe Marchant try, 69 minutes)

16:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Joe Marchant slides over in the corner!

England don’t make much of a dent with their initial efforts, but remain patient. Fiji’s defensive line condenses slightly as the ball threatens to pop out the side of a ruck, and fails to reform after Jaco Peyper orders the visitors to leave it alone. George Ford recognises the opportunity on the blindside and there’s enough room for Marchant to ride the slip ‘n slide for the try. Ford converts brilliantly from the right touchline.

England 15-23 Fiji, 67 minutes

16:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England opt for the corner, which George Ford doesn’t quite find. Theo Dan will throw the lineout eight metres out.

England 15-23 Fiji, 66 minutes

16:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Fiji exit strongly, Caleb Muntz finding open pasture and then the touchline with an angled clearing kick.

England attack from near halfway, and earn a penalty with Fiji contesting too late at the ruck.

England 15-23 Fiji, 64 minutes

16:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

No! Ben Earl lurks on the right wing, asking George Ford to find him with a cross kick. Ford obliges, measuring his approach shot perfectly, but Earl fumbles under pressure from Caleb Muntz, who reacted superbly to get across and save a certain score.

England 15-23 Fiji, 63 minutes

16:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Fiji make a couple of changes, introducing Temo Mayanavanua and Jone Koroiduadua, on permanently after being required during Eroni Mawi’s spell in the sin bin earlier. Viilive Miramira is out there, too, while Lewis Ludlam has joined England’s ranks.

Turnover, England’s ball inside Fiji’s 22. Can they convert?...

PENALTY! England 15-23 FIJI (Caleb Muntz penalty, 62 minutes)

16:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The Fiji fly half has kicked very, very well today. Another three points in his pocket from 45 metres or so on the angle.

England 15-20 Fiji, 61 minutes

16:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Alex Mitchell catches Selestino Ravutaumada high. Caleb Muntz plants the tee down, hoping to take Fiji’s lead out beyond a single score.

England 15-20 Fiji, 59 minutes

16:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Almost a breakaway Fiji score! The game has taken on a helter-skelter feel, Alex Mitchell darting up the left initially but Fiji soon on the attack. The Waisea Nayacalevu of ten years ago might have had the gas to get away from Jonny May but the centre instead goes to his power game, which May meets with a technically excellent tackle to force the Fiji co-captain into touch.

TRY! ENGLAND 15-20 Fiji (Marcus Smith try, 58 minutes)

16:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

How England needed that!

George Ford chips, Marcus Smith chases, and when Fiji make a mess of their collection Smith is there to capitalise. Is he in front of the kicker, though? Level, the officials conclude! The try stands and Ford converts.

PENALTY! England 8-20 FIJI (Caleb Muntz penalty, 57 minutes)

16:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Through it goes. Fiji extend their advantage.

England 8-17 Fiji, 55 minuets

16:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England ring the changes with their listing ship taking on more and more water. Marcus Smith is on at full back for Freddie Steward and Joe Marchant in the centres.

Jonny May spills in the air and Fiji are first to the loose ball. Jack Willis is penalised; this should be three more to Fiji’s tally

TRY! England 8-17 FIJI (Vinaya Habosi try, 53 minutes)

16:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another fine Fijian frolic!

Fiji play blind from a scrum, with Ilaisa Droasese halted in relatively short order and England fanning to cover the edges. It’s intelligent, then, from Vinaya Habosi, inserting himself at scrum half and picking and going past Ben Earl, England’s bodyguard defender. There’s so much space to be found close to the ruck and the rapid Habosi exploits it; another tidy Caleb Muntz conversion deepens England’s strife.

England 8-10 Fiji, 51 minutes

16:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Tuisue is back up on his feet, thankfully - and TMO Brian MacNeice is satisfied there is no head contact. Waisea Nayacalevu requests a more detailed look from the referee as Tuisue departs for an HIA, but Marler’s challenge is deemed legal.

England 8-10 Fiji, 51 minutes

16:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Joe Marler arrives to a cheer, with Ellis Genge jogging off.

Ooh - and might Marler be in immediate bother? A hard-charging Albert Tuisue collides with the replacement prop and Marler looked quite upright in the tackle...

England 8-10 Fiji, 50 minutes

16:29 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Staunch Fijian defence! George Ford runs out of immediate support and kicks aimlessly with England having exhausted all other attacking options. His attempted grubber makes it all of a metre before skewing away off a Fijian leg, and Semi Radradra wins a holding on penalty out of England’s fly half after Ford picks up the pieces.

Groans of frustration from the Twickenham crowd.

England 8-10 Fiji, 48 minutes

16:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Eroni Mawi’s sin bin period is over, allowing Jone Koroiduadua to return to the bench with Lekima Tagitagivalu back involved having been sacrificed on the flank. Simione Kuruvoli replaces Frank Lomani at scrum half and sets about organising his forwards into a defensive structure as England try to bash down the door.

England 8-10 Fiji, 47 minutes

16:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Eroni Mawi will soon be back with us, but England can put the pressure on at scrum time first. Fiji hold firm and Waisea Nayacalevu makes an outstanding tackle as Ollie Lawrence tries to round the bend on the right.

Fijian hands get to the ball at the breakdown, but the contesting player was the second man in - penalty England.

TRY! England 8-10 FIJI (Waisea Nayacalevu try, 43 minutes)

16:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s that combination again - and this time it’ll count!

Oh, this is glorious from Selestino Ravutaumada. The wing is a real emerging talent, so impressive during Super Rugby Pacific this year, and now showing what he can do internationally. Ravutaumada takes Semi Radradra’s pass static and assesses the lay of the land, choosing to take on Jonny May. A couple of flicks and kicks and Ravutaumada jives past the England wing, forcing him away with a hand-off and scorching away.

A backwards inwards toss lays the try on a plate for Waisea Nayacalevu, such a good runner of those supporting lines, and Caleb Muntz’s conversion takes Fiji’s 14 men in front!

England 8-3 Fiji, 42 minutes

16:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Not Freddie Steward’s best moment, misjudging a bouncing ball before slicing out on the full. Fiji have possession again inside England’s half.

England 8-3 Fiji, 41 minutes

16:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Fiji attack from 30 metres out after a shallow England clearance, Sam Matavesi throwing over the top of the lineout for an onrushing Semi Radradra, who is effectively corralled by Theo Dan and co.

Jack Willis leads a counter-ruck to knock Fiji off tempo and England manage to clear.

Second half...

16:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Fiji return with the rain seemingly set in. It’s steady rather than severe, though - the visitors showed they would still be willing to play even in the worst of it earlier and they’ve felt close to cutting England to ribbons on a few occasions.

Eroni Mawi remains on the naughty step for the start of the second half, of course. Can the hosts make their numerical advantage count in this first ten minutes after the interval? We’re back underway at Twickenham.

HT: England 8-3 Fiji

16:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Rugby World Cup 2023 squad guide: Players, fixtures and more

HT: England 8-3 Fiji

16:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another shard of electricity pierces the slate skies overhead as the players make their exit. It’s getting soggy again at Twickenham, and an earlier torrential downpour really seemed to disrupt England, who had started brightly.

Jonny May celebrated his return to the World Cup picture with a well-taken finish in the corner, but Fiji have grown into things, and should have had a score of their own when Selestino Ravutaumada and Waisea Nayacalevu combined. But the wing’s pass to his captain was ruled forward - and the lead is an unconvincing England’s at the half.


16:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

England 8-3 Fiji, 40 minutes

16:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Outstanding maul work from Fiji! Their seven remaining forwards distmantle England’s attempted drive, celebrating a scrum awarded their way with a slapping of backs.

Replacement looshead Jone Koroiduadua is called on to fulfil prop duties with Eroni Mawi in the bin.

England 8-3 Fiji, 39 minutes

15:59 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Thunder and lightning overhead at Twickenham as George Ford prods into the corner - can England strike before half time?...

YELLOW CARD! Eroni Mawi is sent to the sin bin! England 8-3 Fiji, 39 minutes

15:59 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Fiji twice illegally try to halt England’s maul and out comes a card - Eroni Mawi’s attempted collapse sees the loosehead prop sent to the sin bin.

England 8-3 Fiji, 37 minutes

15:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A side entry at the maul will allow England to make further progress via George Ford’s punting right boot.

England 8-3 Fiji, 36 minutes

15:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“That’s terribly dangerous,” cries an England player after Eroni Mawi dives at Ellis Genge’s knee after his opposite number had brushed off Caleb Muntz. Mawi did seem to be trying to wrap, but didn’t quite get it right - just a penalty.

England 8-3 Fiji, 35 minutes

15:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Good defence from England, resteeling themselves and letting Fiji run out of puff. A spill allows Ollie Lawrence to clear.

Courtney Lawes looks to have taken a blow to the neck. The England captain has had issues in that area before and the medics rush on to make sure he’s alright - which it seems he is. He takes his place in the lineout.

England 8-3 Fiji, 34 minutes

15:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Not that that will bother Fiji, who can score from anywhere! It’s brilliant again from the Pacific Islanders in attack, with Semi Radradra putting Max Malins on his backside before Courtney Lawes is forced into emergency lumberjack work to cut the centre down. Fiji begin to threaten inside England’s 22 with a few of the home forwards blowing from that hasty retreat.

England 8-3 Fiji, 32 minutes

15:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

An excellent clearing job from George Ford, keeping the edge defender honest by attacking the line before releasing a raking punt that beats full back Ilaisa Droasese to the touchline. A significant territorial gain for England - Fiji’s lineout 35 metres from their own line.

NO TRY! England 8-3 Fiji, 31 minutes

15:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And Fiji cut England open! But it’ll be chalked off for a forward pass!

It’s dynamite play initially from Selestino Ravutaumada, injecting himself at first receiver off his wing and dancing past Ollie Chessum. Manu Tuilagi can’t grasp him either and it looks as if the Fijian Drua starlet has put his captain away for a canter under the posts.

But Ravutaumada’s toss is forward out of the hands - Waisea Nayacalevu is denied by TMO Brian MacNeice’s intervention.

England 8-3 Fiji, 30 minutes

15:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ellis Genge and Theo Dan make a difference defensively, combining in a devastating double tackle to stall Fiji’s momentum. Cole is then the surprise leader of England’s blitz, nearly catching Fiji behind the gainline but beaten by a sharp step.

England 8-3 Fiji, 29 minutes

15:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Dan Cole has a bit of blood on his face, which will require attention before the tighthead is permitted to take his place in the front row of an England defensive scrum. A lovely attacking position for Fiji, this, virtually centrefield and just inside England’s half.

England 8-3 Fiji, 27 minutes

15:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England just can’t hang on to the ball! Matavesi overthrows but Theo Dan spills at the tail, before Courtney Lawes follows an outstanding defensive intervention - blocking an offload with Selestino Ravutaumada looking to canter on to it - with a fumble of his own.

Semi Radradra’s handling is also not quite there - it’s a bit of a messy affair, all told, with the pitch having taken on so much moisture in that almighty downpour.

England 8-3 Fiji, 25 minutes

15:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The two sides trade errors in possession, with Maro Itoje sharp to snare a loose ball as it spills from a Fiji ruck but Ollie Lawrence’s decision to kick foolish on the right, Lawrence’s stab hitting Fijian shins and then scooped up by the touchline.

England are offside. Caleb Muntz prods up the right and Sam Matavesi will throw 25 metres out,

England 8-3 Fiji, 24 minutes

15:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Yowzer! Semi Radradra locks on to his target and missiles in to George Ford, sending the England fly half sprawling back towards his own tryline.

Ford’s mates help him out, and strip Radradara of the ball to prevent the centre threatening further. Alex Mitchell hooks a clearance up to halfway.

England 8-3 Fiji, 23 minutes

15:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Revenge for Luke Tagi, putting the hurt on Ellis Genge who is pinged for hinging. The England looshead prop shrugs as he retreats - I’m not sure he agreed.

Fiji down into England’s 22.

England 8-3 Fiji, 21 minutes

15:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Fiji are starting to settle in, their array of ball carriers laying a platform and allowing Frank Lomani to go to the air, with Selestino Ravutaumada’s right hand piercing Freddie Steward’s grip and forcing a fumble.

Frank Lomani cops a sore one, and Fiji cry foul, but Jaco Peyper believes the scrum half slipped into the tackle and thus there’s nothing illicit from the English tackler.

The rain, mercifully, appears to be relenting - this is how Jonny May got his unexpected international comeback off to a perfect start.

England 8-3 Fiji, 19 minutes

15:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This rain will probably prevent much of extravagance from England, with all of their possession post-restart kicked. Another nicely flighted box kick from Alex Mitchell ends up in Theo Dan’s hands, but the hooker is squeezed in a vice by two Fijian forwards and the ball pops out of his grasp.

PENALTY! England 8-3 FIJI (Caleb Muntz penalty, 18 minutes)

15:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A lovely strike from Caleb Muntz, whose kick from 45 metres out bisects the uprights with plenty of carry still to spare. Fiji are on the board.

England 8-0 Fiji, 16 minutes

15:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England’s backs are offside as Fiji play away from the scrum. Caleb Muntz wipes water from his eyes as the tee is called on.

England 8-0 Fiji, 15 minutes

15:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The rain would now best be described as biblical, ponchos hurriedly pulled on by those not protected by Twickenham’s roof. You can forgive, then, Freddie Steward not quite grasping a kick sent up into the clouds - Fiji’s scrum on halfway.

England 8-0 Fiji, 14 minutes

15:29 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Fiji get themselves in a bit of a tangle but an England knock on spares their blushes. The visitors’ scrum just about remains stable as Dan Cole and Ellis Genge again try to put the pressure on, allowing a clearance up to Freddie Steward.

Steward hoists high...and England have it back, Fiji’s backfield all over the place with Max Malins in pursuit. A kick is flipped over the top for May to hare after, but Selestino Ravutaumada turns swiftly enough to beat the England win to the bouncing ball.

England 8-0 Fiji, 11 minutes

15:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The heavens have most definitely opened, with great buckets of water tumbling down. Alex Mitchell has started well, weighting his second box kick nicely to allow May another chance to contest, before finding the corner with a box for territrory that skips out of play 15 metres from the Fiji line.

TRY! ENGLAND 8-0 Fiji (Jonny May try, 10 minutes)

15:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Back in the side with a try!

England’s forwards lay the platform, Ellis Genge and Dan Cole winning their scrum-time skirmishes and letting the backs go to work with an advantage in their pocket. A wide pass from George Ford lands in Jonny May’s hands and the wing puts his foot down, unfurling a fierce fend to the chest of Selestino Ravutaumada to power over in the corner.

England 3-0 Fiji, 8 minutes

15:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A chip ahead lands at Fijian feet, which toe it forward into a teammate. The ball ricochets to Lawrence in an advanced position but support is lacking and England can’t make more of their lucky break - back for a scrum for accidental offside.

England 3-0 Fiji, 7 minutes

15:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Jonny May shows off his ability in the air, rising with excellent amplitude to gather a high bomb on the left. England sweep to the right, where Ollie Lawrence injects tempo with a jab off the right boot and acceleration between a couple of defenders.

PENALTY! ENGLAND 3-0 Fiji (George Ford penalty, 6 minutes)

15:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A straightforward starter for George Ford, who pops it through with minimal fuss.

England 0-0 Fiji, 4 minutes

15:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That’s better from the hooker, thrusting and threatening as a midfield carrier after England earn possession back. Jaco Peyper has an arm of advantage extended with Fiji offside at the lineout - and when England’s attack comes to zilch, George Ford points at the posts...

England 0-0 Fiji, 3 minutes

15:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But England’s ambitions are capped by an errant Theo Dan throw.

England 0-0 Fiji, 2 minutes

15:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But Courtney Lawes answers his former Northampton teammate’s turnover with one of his own, spearing breakdown ball as Fiji fail to make ground near halfway. England kick down into Fiji’s 22.

England 0-0 Fiji, 1 minute

15:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Frank Lomani takes the kick off, with his clearance shorter than he’d like. England can attack from about 30 metres out.

Manu Tuilagi almost bashes in the front door with his first carry and the hosts start to work the phases. Tuilagi carries again on an out-to-in line, stepping off his right foot, but Lomani latches over the ball superbly to win the turnover. This Fijian fifteen are pretty much all useful jackalers, with so many of them honing their ability over the ball in sevens.


15:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

George Ford will get things started, the fly half waiting for Jaco Peyper’s peep of permission before dropping boot to ball. The South African referee obliges - off we go!

15:13 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England, sporting their change navy strip, gather in a line as Fiji lay down the challenge with the Cibi.

One last chance for these two to work out their kinks before the World Cup - a win, surely, is a must for England.

England vs Fiji

15:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A few of England’s unused, suspended or injured squad members wander out to take seats in the otherwise unoccupied top tier, joining their squadmates on the pitch in singing along to “God Save the King”.

England vs Fiji

15:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Courtney Lawes emerges from the tunnel, his four kids alongside him, all in “Lawes 100” shirts, which is a lovely touch. A fine ovation for a fine servant, who poses for a couple of pictures before joining his teammates for the anthems.

Engladn vs Fiji

15:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England have never been less prepared as they face final Rugby World Cup warm-up

England vs Fiji

15:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Twickenham’s bottom two tiers are starting to fill - the RFU were hoping to get up towards 60,000, but I think they’ll be short of that.

England vs Fiji: Match Officials

15:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Referee: Jaco Peyper (RSA)

ARs: Pierre Brousset (FRA) & Hollie Davidson (SCO)

TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRE)

England vs Fiji

14:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It has now clouded over, with a bit of a chill in the Twickenham air and the threat of rain ever more present. Let’s hope it stays away.

Rugby World Cup 2023 schedule, fixtures, match dates and kick-off times

14:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Rugby World Cup 2023 schedule, fixtures, dates and kick-off times

England vs Fiji

14:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There’s a big band of grey cloud threatening the blow over Twickenham, but for now the sun is out and bright with the two sides getting warm. The top tier isn’t open today, which is indicative of the trouble the RFU have had shifting tickets for this one, but there are plenty of families in on a bank holiday weekend, and a fair few Fiji flags fluttering, too.

Courtney Lawes credits Eddie Jones for helping him to 100 England caps

14:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Courtney Lawes credits Eddie Jones for giving his career a second wind as he prepares to joins the ranks of England’s Test centurions.

Lawes leads England into Saturday’s World Cup send-off against Fiji at Twickenham playing for the head coach – Steve Borthwick – who was also his captain when he made his debut against Australia in 2009.

The 34-year-old back row warrior has shown tenacity to overcome a host of significant injuries, but his reinvention from defensive hitman to model blindside flanker was not reward for his efforts alone.

First inspired by Northampton forwards coach Dorian West as he was finding his feet as an 18-year-old second row, it was not until Eddie Jones took charge of England in 2015 that his game evolved again.

“In my early days it was Dorian West who had the biggest impact. I say that begrudgingly because he’ll love that!” Lawes said.

“Dorian was a big influence on me, helping me get that bit of edge and to become a tough player. He really built that into me. Then later on it was definitely Eddie.

“When I stopped progressing as a player he was the one who came in and really gave me the boot to push me on to be the player I could be. And I’m very thankful for that.

“He dropped me first, but then he gave me a couple of ultimatums that I took away and worked at.

“He told me I needed to keep hitting people and I needed to carry better, become the ball-carrier I was when I was younger.”

Courtney Lawes credits Eddie Jones for helping him to 100 England caps

Kevin Sinfield says England’s pre-World Cup setbacks are bringing squad together

14:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Kevin Sinfield insists England have remained united despite being buffeted by multiple setbacks before the World Cup has even begun.

Fiji’s visit to Twickenham on Saturday completes a warm-up campaign that has seen England’s record deteriorate to four defeats in five matches, leaving them bereft of form ahead of their pivotal Pool D clash with Argentina on September 9.

Some of the challenges facing Steve Borthwick’s men – such as the bans for high tackles issued to Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola – have been of their own making, but injury has struck too.

Anthony Watson has followed Jack van Poortvliet out of the original 33-man squad named by Borthwick and there are concerns over two more frontline stars in Tom Curry and Elliot Daly.

Sinfield insists that despite the adversity, England’s squad is showing no signs of splintering into cliques.

“We were a tight group already, but how you handle those setbacks and those obstacles are really important to how the team moves forward and how the team functions,” defence coach Sinfield said.

“After each one of those blows – if you call them that – we’ve got back up and gone again. We’ll continue to do that. These obstacles will continue to bring us closer together.

Kevin Sinfield says England’s pre-World Cup setbacks are bringing squad together

Centres of attention

14:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

I’m pretty certain this is England’s heaviest ever starting centre partnership, with Manu Tuilagi and Ollie Lawrence paired together for the first time and offering all sorts of direct threat. It’s hard not to get excited about the damage they might be able to do, though England will be concerned about the lack of distributing hands in their backline.

Lawrence is better in that regard than one might initially assume, and I’d expect to see Max Malins roaming a lot to provide linking fingers and feet, but Fiji will know what England’s primary plan of attack might be.

Fiji’s centre duo aren’t half bad, either. Semi Radradra and Waisea Nayacalevu would both confess to being more comfortable at 13 and I’d expect them to interchange plenty, two ridiculous athletes who have also become really intelligent decision-makers. Caleb Muntz still has developing to do at fly half but he’s got the right men alongside him, and Fiji will surely test the lateral mobility of England’s centres.

Can Simon Raiwalui mastermind a Fiji shock?

14:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Simon Raiwalui was installed as head coach earlier this year after Vern Cotter’s abrupt departure in February. There are few more respected figures in Fijian rugby than the former lock, who travelled the world as a player and has experience in a number of coaching set-ups and club structures since retiring.

He’s made a real impact with this Fijian squad, too, shrewdly opting to build around a spine from the Fijian Drua. The club’s introduction to Super Rugby Pacific has provided Fiji’s domestic-based players with consistent, competitive action, which has built real continuity over the last couple of years. The World Cup may come slightly too soon for the full impact of the Drua’s development to show, but their set piece really solidified this season and a new group of leaders are starting to step up, which has helped Raiwalui build his national team into one that genuinely believes they can make a deep tournament run.

“He’s had a massive impact on us as a coach,” lock Isoa Nasilasila said of Raiwalui yesterday. “Not only as a coach, but someone we can look to for advice. He’s been all around the globe, [played in] France and England. He gives us a lot of tips and advice in how to handle ourselves. He’s great in the coaching aspect, too.

“[Our game] has definitely evolved. We are trying to get the technicalities of something in there, not just go to the backs or offload. We are trying to build something first and then play from there. It’s definitely evolved a lot over the last few years.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Kyle Sinckler emerges as World Cup doubt

14:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

In another bit of bad news for the RFU, today’s Twickenham programme cover star is Kyle Sinckler, out of this game with a pectoral problem and perhaps a doubt for the World Cup, too. England insist they are confident that the tighthead will be fit for their opener against Argentina but it is worth remembering that Sinckler hasn’t started at all this summer, and the prop can sometimes be a player who needs time to work up to full form.

I think, ideally, England would have liked Will Stuart to really seize the three shirt having given him starts in the all three warm-ups so far, but the Bath front rower struggled in Dublin last weekend and might have fallen back down the pecking order.

It makes today surprisingly big for Dan Cole, starting for the first time since England’s pool stage encounter with the USA at the last World Cup. England might usually expect to dominate Fiji at scrum time but Eroni Mawi has honed his scrummaging skills with Saracens over the last couple of seasons, and Luke Tagi can anchor well on the tighthead. I still think England may try to play conservatively and grind their visitors down, but if Fiji can retain set-piece parity, England will really have to look out.

May day

14:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The problems just continue to come for England, with Anthony Watson’s injury a bitter blow for a player who has had to deal with plenty of strife over the last couple of years, and, of course, for Steve Borthwick, with Watson surely having been inked in as one of his wing World Cup starters.

To further complicate matters, both Elliot Daly and Henry Arundell are currently dealing with injuries – the latter was staggering about like an ageing prop forward at England’s captain’s run yesterday as he tries to fight off what has been described as a “freak back spasm”.

Enter, then, Jonny May, who we expect to be confirmed as Watson’s replacement in the World Cup squad on Sunday or Monday having been in and around England camp over the last few weeks since missing out on the initial 33. Joe Cokanasiga and Guy Porter have also been involved in training this week but you can understand why the Gloucester wing was Borthwick’s first mayday call, the 33-year-old’s professionalism and meticulous preparation often picked out as an example to younger players by his coaches.

That said, May has had a rough old run, with a knee injury compounded by contracting Covid on England’s tour of Australia last summer, and the wing hasn’t perhaps found top gear at club level for a little while. Having been presented with an unexpected opportunity to impress ahead of the tournament, May will be keen to produce a good showing against a talented, but inexperienced, Fijian back three today.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Team News – Fiji

14:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Fiji are without a couple of stars in flanker Levani Botia and Josua Tuisova, and prop Peni Ravai is also a significant absentee. There is plenty of quality in Simon Rawailui’s group, though, with Semi Radradra and skipper Waisea Nayacelevu offering a varied midfield threat outside of young fly half Caleb Muntz.

Albert Tuisue and Viliame Mata will shoulder much of the ball carrying burden from the back row, while Selestino Ravutaumada has enjoyed a strong first summer in international rugby and gets another opportunity to impress on the wing.

Fiji XV: Eroni Mawi, Sam Matavesi (co-capt.), Luke Tagi; Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Isoa Nasilasila; Albert Tuisue, Lekima Tagitagivalu, Viliame Mata; Frank Lomani, Caleb Muntz; Vinaya Habosi, Semi Radradra, Waisea Nayacalevu (co-capt.), Selestino Ravutaumada; Ilaisa Droasese.

Replacements: Zuriel Togitama, Jone Koroiduadua, Samu Tawaka, Temo Mayanavanua, Vilive Miramira; Simione Kuruvoli, Teti Tela, Kalaveti Ravouvou.

Team News – England

14:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

News of Anthony Watson’s injury comes as another major blow for England ahead of the World Cup, Jonny May has been called in to the starting side as cover with Elliot Daly (knee) and Henry Arundell (back) also absent this weekend, though Steve Borthwick is confident both will be fit for the tournament. In Billy Vunipola’s absence, Ben Earl slides across from the openside with Jack Willis promoted to the starting back row.

That trio is completed by Courtney Lawes, captaining his country on the occasion of his 100th cap, while there are first international starts for Theo Dan and Alex Mitchell at hooker and scrum half respectively. Manu Tuilagi joins Ollie Lawrence in a power-packed midfield.

England XV: Ellis Genge, Theo Dan, Dan Cole; Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum; Courtney Lawes (capt.), Jack Willis, Ben Earl; Alex Mitchell, George Ford; Jonny May, Manu Tuilagi, Ollie Lawrence, Max Malins; Freddie Steward.

Replacements: Jack Walker, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, David Ribbans, Lewis Ludlam; Danny Care, Marcus Smith, Joe Marchant.

England vs Fiji

14:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

One last warm-up, then, for England and Fiji with less than a fortnight until the World Cup begins. Twickenham was a sea of South African green last night, with South Africa laying down a signficant pre-World Cup statement with a record victory over New Zealand on an evening where very little went right for the All Blacks.

We’re not expecting nearly as many in today, with train strikes playing a part, but this could still be a lot of fun, with Fiji surely fancying themselves with England in a mess. Let’s check in on the two sides...

England have never been less prepared as they face final Rugby World Cup warm-up

14:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Perhaps England fans are starting to vote with their feet. There are mitigating circumstances as to why Twickenham may not be particularly close to full for England’s final World Cup warm-up match against Fiji – train strikes, the continuing cost of living crisis and rather more appetising Friday night fare among them – but certainly the Rugby Football Union (RFU) would have preferred a few more to RSVP to England’s leaving do.

A celebratory send-off this will surely not be. Regardless of the result this weekend, England will head to their World Cup training base in Le Touquet next Thursday never worse prepared for a tournament. Even the most ardent of supporters and most optimistic of analysts are reaching for glimmers out of the darkness within which Steve Borthwick’s side seem to be consumed. If these four warm-up matches were meant to leave enough runway to build momentum ahead of the tournament, then England have, true to this squandered four-year cycle, careered most definitely off course.

England have never been less prepared as they face final Rugby World Cup warm-up

England vs Fiji

13:59 , Lawrence Ostlere

Follow all the latest as England take on Fiji in their final World Cup warm-up match.