Massive Statements In Summer Tests

Wales moved to #1 in the World Rugby rankings after beating England 13-6 Saturday in Cardiff.

For the first time in ten years, New Zealand is off the top of the rankings.

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The Welsh made up for missing out on top spot last week in losing to England by eking out a gritty win over Eddie Jones's side.

The All Blacks may have lost the top dog status—they have held it since November 2009 -- but they handed out a warning with the World Cup approaching by thrashing Australia 36-0 earlier on Saturday.  

"I think we probably got a bit caught up in all that last weekend," said man-of-the-match Dan Biggar. "We want to keep going about our business we are looking to get better but it is nice to be where we are."

England captain George Ford said it was a disappointing performance but put the matches into context.

"It was a proper Test match and pretty physical," he said. "However, I do not think people will remember these games when the World Cup begins."

Injury Worries For Wales

Indeed Wales coach Warren Gatland may have more concerns about the fitness of fullback Liam Williams and flanker James Davies.
Williams cut a despondent figure on the sidelines after pulling up with a tight hamstring in the warm-up and was replaced by Leigh Halfpenny.

Injury-plagued Davies— who with brother Jonathan Davies became the first pair of siblings to play for Wales since the Robinsons in 2006— had to make way for Josh Navidi in the 24th minute.   

Biggar responded brilliantly to criticism from Wales legend JJ Williams, who had said he should not be the number one at the World Cup, first choice Gareth Anscombe having been ruled out, because of his lack of creativity.

The game shifted considerably to Wales's advantage just after the half hour mark with the hosts leading 3-0 through a Biggar penalty.

French referee Pascal Gauzere sin-binned Anthony Watson for a deliberate knock on when the Welsh had a three man overlap.

However, with the England winger running off Biggar caught the English napping and took the penalty immediately -- his cross field kick being taken by Josh Adams.

England managed to deny Adams but having probed deep into the 22 Biggar kicked cross-field again this time to the left wing and George North was there to collect it and touch down for his 38th try in Test rugby.  

Whilst Ford had a word with Gauzere, Biggar converted for a 10-0 half-time lead.

England had not gone pointless in the first-half of a match since the 2011 World Cup clash with France.

Ford got England's first points finally in the 51st minute converting a penalty for 10-3 and added another shortly before the hour mark.

England rarely threatened the Welsh line going closest when Watson finally got his hands on the ball but was brought down five meters short.

Wales sealed their place at the top of the world rankings when late call-up Halfpenny knocked over a penalty with just under five minutes remaining.

France Slams Scotland

Veteran fullback Maxime Medard scored twice as France hammered Scotland 32-3 in their first Rugby World Cup warmup.

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Medard, 32, winning his 57th cap, dotted down either side of the break for his first tries in more than three years.

The fixture was the first outing of the side since the appointment of former French captain Fabien Galthie as an advisor to head coach Jacques Brunel, before he takes over from the 65-year-old after the World Cup in Japan.

"We were opportunistic, we managed to score some good tries. We could have scored more but it's a satisfactory match which will do some good to our spirits," Brunel said.

Prop Jefferson Poirot led les Bleus for the first time in the absence of injured Guillem Guirado as Fijian-born winger Alivereti Raka and flanker Francois Cros made their debuts in the starting lineup as the hosts scored five tries in all.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend chose to rest first-choice half-backs Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw and put his faith in Glasgow pair Adam Hastings and Ali Price for the match in Nice.

"We thought we had prepared the squad well, but we were wrong. We wasted the whole first half," Townsend said.

"The team will be changed quite a bit for next Saturday," he added looking ahead to the return fixture between the sides in Edinburgh.

Galthie's focus on improving France's fitness was seen almost immediately.

Raka, 24, celebrated his first cap with a maiden Test try after just 94 seconds as he crashed over under the posts.

Camille Lopez converted before adding his only penalty of proceedings after a quarter of an hour of play.

The two teams face each other again next weekend before France host Italy on August 30.

Les Bleus face Argentina, the United States, Tonga and England at the World Cup in Japan.

Scotland have back-to-back Tests against Georgia after the match at Murrayfield and will meet Ireland, Samoa, Russia as well as the hosts at the tournament.

© Agence France-Presse

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