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With one exception, BBC Sport website voters would pick the XV who began Wales' win over Fiji for Sunday's third World Cup game against Australia.

Dewi Lake would be your hooker in place of Ryan Elias, who started that thrilling opening Pool C victory.

You want forwards Jac Morgan and Taulupe Faletau to make their third starts in a side showing 11 changes from the second win against Portugal.

Wing Louis Rees-Zammit also gets your nod for a third successive selection.

Rees-Zammit is in 96.12% of teams submitted, with only number eight Faletau (96.33%) more popular with our voters.

Outside-half Dan Biggar and outside centre George North are also in more than 90% of selections, while left wing Josh Adams is chosen in 89.8% of teams.

Both full-back Liam Williams and lock forward Will Rowlands receive 86% backing.

The choice of Lake to keep the number two jersey he wore against Portugal is the closest decision, but still 56% of voters opt for the Ospreys hooker ahead of Elias (30.51%).

Head coach Warren Gatland reveals his line-up for the game in Lyon on Friday.

You can still pick your XV but your selections will not be counted towards the result - remember to share your picks on social media using #bbcrugby.

Wales XV to face Australia in Lyon

Pick your starting XV for Wales' third Rugby World Cup 2023 pool game

Champion Knights back at camp with 'excitement'

Published in Hockey
Thursday, 21 September 2023 20:20

LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights went from hoisting the Stanley Cup, to a victory parade on the Strip, to a summer of celebrating, to now getting down to the business of playing hockey again.

A short offseason is a good problem to have, but still an issue.

"That's part of why some teams maybe have trouble going back to back with the championships," general manager Kelly McCrimmon said Thursday as the team opened training camp. "There's tremendous energy and excitement around our team right now. I've always felt that if you play until the end and you win, you don't mind that short summer. If you play to the end and you lose in the final, then the summer does seem short."

The Knights, who defeated the Florida Panthers in five games to win the Cup, hope to become the latest team to repeat as champions. The Tampa Bay Lightning accomplished that feat just two years ago, and the Pittsburgh Penguins did it in 2017, the only teams to do so in the salary-cap era.

Vegas opened camp with nearly the identical roster that won the championship just more than three months ago. Reilly Smith, who was traded to the Penguins to free up cap space, is the only one who played in the final not back with the team.

The Knights, a club usually known for making a big splash in free agency, also didn't add any players until signing forward Max Comtois on Sept. 12. But Comtois, who played parts of the past five seasons for the Anaheim Ducks, was signed to training camp and not assured of a roster spot.

Most of the Knights' offseason attention was given to locking up goalie Adin Hill and forward Ivan Barbashev.

That created a locker room full of familiar faces.

"You know what to expect," center Chandler Stephenson said. "You know how everybody operates and how everybody plays, the systems and everything like that. It's just kind of fluid. You can kind of pick up where you left off."

Coach Bruce Cassidy established the tone early of making a repeat the priority, leading chants at the victory parade of "back to back!" It didn't rise to the level of the guarantee Pat Riley made at the Lakers' parade in 1987 -- Los Angeles indeed went on to repeat -- but was still a pretty bold statement not even a week after winning the title.

"We feel like we're returning a lot of players to give us that opportunity," Cassidy said. "We're in that age range right now where it wouldn't be just this year, either. All those things are going well for us. I said it at the time sort of tongue-in-cheek, but you're asking me now. We've got as good a chance as anyone. That's just the way I feel where each player is in their career and where we are as a team, but until you get out there, it's wide open."

The odds don't favor going back to back. Vegas is listed at as the sixth-most likely team to win it all, tied with the Dallas Stars at 13-1. The Colorado Avalanche, who won the Cup two seasons ago, are the favorites at 8 1/2-1.

Not being the favorite isn't new to the Knights. They weren't the top pick going into last season's playoffs, with teams such as the Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers receiving more attention.

But after opening the postseason with a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, the Knights went 16-5 the rest of the playoffs.

Now they're back to work, hoping this season ends like the most recent one.

"We felt like we had something to prove (last season) not only to ourselves but to everyone else in the league having missed the playoffs the year before," center Jack Eichel said. "I think this is another great chance to prove ourselves."


Eichel is from near Boston, and he took the Cup with him to Chelmsford, Massachusetts, when he had his day with the trophy. That region had hoped the Bruins would be the ones celebrating after they put together a record-setting regular season only to be eliminated by the Panthers in the first round.

"A lot of (Boston fans) said after they were knocked out, they were rooting for me," Eichel said. "Whether it was true or false, everyone was very respectful."


Goalie Robin Lehner remains on long-term injured reserve. He missed all of last season after undergoing hip surgery about six weeks before camp opened. Being on LTIR means the Knights can exceed the cap up to $5 million, which is Lehner's salary.

On the occasion of her final game in a U.S. women's national team jersey, Julie Ertz had kept her emotions in check. Mostly. But a postgame montage of her career and a speech to the crowd proved to be too much. The tears flowed, showing the passion that defined Ertz's career.

"To every girl out there who dreams to be here, it's worth it," she said as she addressed the crowd at Cincinnati's TQL Stadium after the game. "Every part of it."

The U.S. prevailed over South Africa 3-0 on Thursday, thanks to a 10-minute stretch in the first half that saw Lynn Williams score a pair of goals and Trinity Rodman add another. The win didn't amount to a complete catharsis following a hugely disappointing 2023 Women's World Cup that saw the earliest U.S. exit from a World Cup in the history of the program. That recovery will require many more pages to be turned, not to mention the hiring of a new manager.

Ertz's international finale added a feel-good element to the occasion, though. Even as the U.S. cruised to victory, this match was all about celebrating one of the finest defensive players to ever suit up for the USWNT. Ertz will finish with 123 international appearances, 20 goals and a pair of World Cup titles.

Yet Ertz meant more to the U.S. than mere numbers could ever convey. She has long been one of the team's emotional leaders, playing with a physical edge that made it near impossible for opponents to break through. Her absence from the USWNT following the birth of her son, Madden, last August was keenly felt.

It was telling that during her prematch news conference, Ertz said "competing and winning" were what she would miss the most after she retires. That attitude isn't as easy to replace as it sounds.

Her play at the 2023 World Cup -- leading a back line that conceded just once in the entire tournament -- was so stellar that she could have easily carried on to the Olympics, set to begin in 10 months. But family life with Madden and her husband, Zach Ertz, beckons. She will have no regrets, and this night was everything she hoped it would be.

"Really excited that we scored kind of right before [I was subbed]. It just felt like a really good ending to say bye," Ertz said on the TNT postgame show. "I've always known I loved the sport, and in that moment, the 35 minutes left that I was blessed to have, I just could just feel it. I could feel how much I loved it. I'm so grateful."

It was a night when U.S. interim manager Twila Kilgore did what she could to set the table for the defensive mainstay to score, allowing Ertz to move high up the field in an advanced midfield role. Ertz's teammates did their best as well to get her on the scoresheet, finding her on a pair of set piece opportunities in the first half. Ertz sent one header over the bar and another that was saved comfortably by South Africa goalkeeper Kaylin Swart.

To Ertz, the scoreline mattered more.

"At the end of the day, it's about the wins," Ertz said. "Of course, I would've loved to score. Who wouldn't? But at the end of the day, it was just so fun to be out there, play so free and play one last time."

Why Julie Ertz is one of the 'best-ever' USWNT players

ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle reacts to the news that Julie Ertz is calling time on her soccer career.

After the first two U.S. goals from Williams and Rodman -- the second of which saw Ertz involved in the buildup -- it was time for Ertz to come off, making way for Andi Sullivan in the 36th minute. The announced crowd of 22,016 roared. One fan's sign said: "Ertz To Say Goodbye." Ertz blew kisses in response, and struggling with her emotions, she managed to make it to the sideline. When the players gathered to watch the postmatch video dedicated to Ertz, that was another matter.

It certainly was on brand for Ertz to let the tears flow. She cried back in 2018 when she was told that Zach Ertz reached the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles, which they later won. She shed tears when she read aloud a supportive note from her husband ahead of the 2023 World Cup. She even cried during the 2015 Women's World Cup semifinal against Germany when she conceded a penalty. The subsequent spot kick was missed, leading teammate Carli Lloyd, blunt as ever, to tell her, "There's no time for tears. We have a game to play!" Ertz regained her composure and the U.S. won 2-0.

No one minded then, and fans and teammates alike showed their appreciation on this night. Ertz did teeter on the edge of her emotions during the pregame intros and national anthem, struggling to hold back the tears. But when it came time for the pregame pep talk, Ertz was back to her intense but composed self.

That Ertz would show that intensity right to the end wasn't a surprise. It's fair to say no USWNT player was more prepared, and she never took a play off.

"She directs people every second, every moment on the field," Williams told TNT at halftime. "She just shows by her work rate and her dedication to the game. We joke about it in the camp, but she's always holding an iPad and always studying, always learning.

"Even this morning she was doing it and we were like, 'Julie, you're retiring. It doesn't matter anymore.' But just her preparation, her dedication, and her willingness to put everything on the line for us, it's incredible."

Such is the nature of the international game that when one player departs, another enters. On this night it was Angel City left back M.A. Vignola making her international debut in her hometown. With retiring Megan Rapinoe slated to play her last match on Sunday, other players like Jaedyn Shaw will surely follow. The likes of Alyssa Thompson and Rodman figure to play increasing roles.

But for one night at least, it was time to celebrate a USWNT legend. Ertz has earned every plaudit and deserves the contentment that retirement and family life will hopefully bring.

Sri Lanka 84 for 2 (Sanjeewani 32, Putthawong 2-21) beat Thailand 78 for 7 (Sutthiruang 31, Priyadharshani 4-10) by eight wickets

Inoshi Priyadharshani's career-best returns of 4 for 10 backed up by a quick 32 from Anushka Sanjeewani helped Sri Lanka brush aside Thailand by eight wickets and advance to the semi-finals of the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

Chasing 79 in the rain-reduced 15-overs-a-side quarter-final, Sri Lanka coasted to a win in 10.5 overs.

Rain and a wet outfield had delayed the start of the game by close to an hour-and-a-half. Once the weather cleared, Sri Lanka opted to field under grey skies.

Udeshika Prabodhani found some movement in the air, but it was Priyadharshani who inflicted the early damage, accounting for four of the first five wickets to fall. She struck twice in her first over - the second of the innings - dismissing Suwanan Khiaoto and Natthakan Chantham. In her next over, she removed Nannapat Koncharoenkai before accounting for Naruemol Chaiwai with a smart caught and bowled.

At 37 for 6, Thailand were sinking rapidly but a 29-run stand between Chanida Sutthiruang and Phannita Maya arrested the slide a touch. Sutthiruang top-scored with an unbeaten 31 and was the only batter to get into double-digits as Thailand managed to reach 78 for 7 in 15 overs.

Chamari Athapaththu and Sanjeewani then made light work of the chase. They brought up their 50 partnership in the sixth over before Thipatcha Putthawong accounted for Athapaththu, who top edged a slog sweep.

Putthawong also removed Sanjeewani but the damage had been done by then. Thailand were not helped by their ground fielding; they committed a number of mis-fields and dropped chances. Harshitha Samarawickrama closed the game in the 11th over with a pull over deep square leg.

Sri Lanka will face Pakistan in the second semi-final on Sunday.

Saudi crown prince: Sportswashing will continue

Published in Breaking News
Thursday, 21 September 2023 22:23

Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, said in an interview with Fox News that aired Wednesday that he doesn't care about allegations of sportswashing made against his country.

"If sportswashing [is] going to increase my GDP [gross domestic product] by way of 1 percent, then I will continue doing sportwashing," he said, according to "I don't care."

Through its Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia has been increasingly aggressive in its involvement in global sports in recent years, highlighted in the United States by the creation of LIV Golf, which recruited high-profile players from the PGA Tour, eventually leading to a union between the two.

Critics have argued these types of investments are done to launder Saudi Arabia's image to the rest of the world. However, bin Salman contends that is not the case.

"One percent growth of GDP from sport and I'm aiming for another one-and-a-half percent -- call it whatever you want, we're going to get that one-and-a-half percent," he said.

This summer, teams in soccer's Saudi Pro League, with help from the PIF, spent nearly $1 billion acquiring several European-based stars, including Brazilian forward Neymar. Cristiano Ronaldo joined the league in January. The league's games are broadcast in the United States by Fox Sports.

Oregon St. AD: Relegation model warrants study

Published in Breaking News
Thursday, 21 September 2023 22:23

As Oregon State and Washington State prepare for their top-25 matchup Saturday amid the strong possibility of being stripped of their Power 5 status next season, OSU athletic director Scott Barnes indicated he is curious about the possibility of promotion/relegation in college football.

A promotion/relegation model, which is used in most professional soccer leagues around the world, allows teams to move up and down through different divisions or leagues based on their on-field performance each season. A proposal to adopt a similar structure within college football was recently drafted by Boise State associate athletic director Michael Walsh, according to Front Office Sports.

"As you think about the future of even media rights, I think a sort of relegation model, either in unequal distribution, a contraction of teams and/or peer relegation will take place. I think that's coming," Barnes said in a joint news conference with presidents and athletic directors from OSU and WSU on Thursday. "In terms of the model itself, I think there's some merit to look at some form of hybrid model that does support that. We see it working in a similar fashion in Europe, and certainly it's worthy of our study."

Without an invitation to another Power 5 conference in the wake of the Pac-12's demise, OSU and WSU are the poster children for the merits of a promotion/relegation system. They have been left without a Power 5 suitor primarily because of the size of their media markets in remote outposts in the Pacific Northwest, not because of the quality of their teams. OSU (3-0) has won 10 of its past 11 games and is ranked No. 14. WSU (3-0) is ranked No. 21 with a convincing win against Big Ten power Wisconsin.

However, there are several significant hurdles that make the possibility of promotion/relegation across college football very unlikely, most of which are tied in some way to media rights contracts.

"I don't know how you practically move to these particular models that you could even get a lot of people to sit around and agree to," WSU president Kirk Schulz said. "There's going to have to be some other disruptors that are going to force it, and I'm just not sure we're going to see a lot of movement in this space in the next four to five years just because people are locked down into particular media contracts."

Schulz said if change were to come, it likely would have to be driven by the bigger brands in the sport.

"I just don't see a great easy pathway to get there without a major market disruptor coming in with a lot of financial resources to say, let's do something different," Schulz said.

Recent events in European soccer suggest large brands do not believe a promotion/relegation model benefits them. In fact, the ill-fated Super League proposal shows the lengths Europe's biggest soccer clubs were willing to go to enter a model more consistent with how American sports leagues operate.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers pulled out a 30-12 victory over the New York Giants on Thursday night, and while the 49ers may not have looked unbeatable, they did more than enough to handle a banged-up opponent.

The Giants kept hanging around until the fourth quarter, when the Niners put it away late. Here's what to know about each team's performance:

San Francisco 49ers

It wasn't always pretty, and it wasn't as easy as the final score might indicate, but the 49ers took care of business.

On a short week, the Niners, without injured receiver Brandon Aiyuk (shoulder), labored through the win. While the Giants were short-handed in their second game of a West Coast swing, there's no need for the 49ers to apologize for another victory as San Francisco moved to 3-0 for just the second time in the past 25 years.

But if this win taught anything, it's that Aiyuk's value to the Niners should not be discounted. The Giants entered this game having blitzed more than any team in the league since the start of 2022. They lived up to that reputation, relentlessly sending extra rushers at 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy.

Those blitzes were effective in the first half, not only in pressuring Purdy but in causing him to be off target and forcing Niners coach Kyle Shanahan to resort to more screens and quick passes instead of the intermediate routes he often prefers.

That is where Aiyuk would have made a difference. Dating to the start of last season, Aiyuk has 50 catches (tied for 8th in the NFL) for 679 yards (tied for 9th) against man coverage. Nobody on the Niners more consistently and quickly beats man coverage than Aiyuk.

In the second half, fellow wideout Deebo Samuel (six catches for 129 yards and a touchdown) and tight end George Kittle (seven receptions for 90 yards) helped pick up the slack, and the Niners defense dominated the Giants.

To be sure, the 49ers did the right thing keeping Aiyuk, whom they'd like to sign to a contract extension in the offseason, out Thursday night so he can use the extra rest to get healthy for the long haul. But his absence should also only bolster how much they value him for the rest of this season. And beyond.

QB breakdown: With defenders constantly in his face, Purdy had a bit of an odd night, though his final numbers turned out quite good. Purdy finished 25 of 37 for 310 yards with two touchdowns for a passer rating of 111.3. Purdy put the ball in harm's way a handful of times and was fortunate to avoid turnovers in the first half, but he was outstanding on third down and came on late in the game. It wasn't his best performance, but Purdy is now one of only four quarterbacks to start a career with at least eight straight regular season wins in the Super Bowl Era (since 1966).

Purdy was blitzed on 74% of his dropbacks, the highest blitz rate faced by a QB with 30 dropbacks since Colin Kaepernick in 2013 (88% vs Cardinals). The 29 blitzes Purdy faced were more than double his previous high (14). Purdy's 236 passing yards against the blitz were the most by a passer since Aaron Rodgers in 2021.

Troubling trend: The Niners entered the night tied for the fifth-most penalties in the league and did nothing to assuage those concerns against the Giants. San Francisco finished with six penalties for 71 yards, including two for 37 yards that set up New York's first touchdown of the game.

Eye-popping stat: After scoring on a four-yard run in the first half, Niners running back Christian McCaffrey now has a touchdown in 12 consecutive games (including playoffs), tying him with Jerry Rice for the longest streak in franchise history. Lenny Moore has the record for most consecutive games with a TD -- including playoffs -- at 17. -- Nick Wagoner

Next game: vs. Cardinals (4:25 p.m. ET, Oct. 1)

New York Giants

This wasn't a no-contest like the 40-0 opening loss to Dallas. The Giants kept it within a score into the fourth quarter.

Ultimately, they couldn't beat the more talented 49ers, especially with a couple bounces and costly penalties going against them. But it wasn't for a lack of effort. The Giants would've had to play a perfect game in order to win on the road in prime time without four starters (running back Saquon Barkley, left tackle Andrew Thomas, left guard Ben Bredeson and outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari). They didn't, as expected.

It now puts a premium on the Monday, Oct. 2 home game against the Seattle Seahawks, a game New York was perhaps eyeing. That was always the one they needed to win in order to survive this early gauntlet. Splitting their West Coast trip (win at Arizona, loss at San Francisco) is hardly debilitating.

Pivotal play: The roughing-the-passer penalty on Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams with 1:51 left in the second quarter. San Francisco had a third-and-12 while leading 10-3 at the Giants' 20-yard line with just under two minutes remaining in the half. Williams beat his man and hit Purdy as the ball was released. The penalty likely was called because Williams landed on Purdy with all his weight. It was a game-changing call because it gave San Francisco a first-and-goal instead of a fourth down. McCaffrey ran it in for a six-yard touchdown on the very next play to make it 17-3.

Bold prediction for next week: The Giants play on Monday night, and that gives Barkley and his high ankle sprain another 11 days to get right. But ... he still won't be ready. We've seen this story before. Barkley always wants to play and pushes to get back sooner than expected. However, it's in his -- and the team's -- best interest for the standout running back to get right before returning.

Eye-popping stat: The 49ers converted a third-and-15 and third-and-13 on screen passes on the same drive in the second quarter. It ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Ronnie Bell and a 10-3 lead. There were 25 screen passes attempted on third-and-10+ the first two weeks of the season. Only one was converted for a first down, until Thursday night. -- Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. Seahawks (8:15 p.m. ET, Oct. 2)

Albies, Acuña hit milestones in Braves' victory

Published in Baseball
Thursday, 21 September 2023 22:31

WASHINGTON -- Everyone knows about Ronald Acuña Jr., his bid to join the 40-40 club and his MVP candidacy. Matt Olson leads the majors in homers. The NL East champion Atlanta Braves know Ozzie Albies is doing his part, too.

Albies went 4-for-6, including his 32nd homer, and topped 100 RBIs in a season for the second time by driving in four runs. Acuña scored his 140th run of 2023 -- the most in the majors in 16 years -- and Olson delivered home run No. 53 to lift Atlanta past the last-place Washington Nationals 10-3 on Thursday night.

"What he brings, it's so vital to the whole lifeline of the whole club. I've said for years: 'You know what? You play the game the way Ozzie does, you're going to play it right,'" Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "The kid does everything right on the field. ... Prepares. The work ethic. He's the model player, really."

The Braves outhit the Nationals 18-8, and every member of Atlanta's daunting starting lineup reached base at least once.

Olson raised his RBI total to 132, equaling Gary Sheffield in 2003 for the most by a Braves player since the club moved to Atlanta. Austin Riley, Michael Harris II and Orlando Arcia each collected three hits.

Max Fried (8-1), who got extra rest between starts while dealing with a blister issue on his index finger, allowed one run -- on Alex Call's homer in the third -- and three hits in six innings while striking out seven. He lowered his ERA to 2.55.

"Outing felt great. Toward the end, the finger filled up with a little bit of fluid. Drained it. Kind of take it day by day," Fried said. "It's something that obviously happens often. It's more about managing it and dealing with it."

The left-hander said he enjoys having Albies on the team for more than what the second baseman does in the field and at the plate.

"He's a little firecracker. He's always got high energy. He's always smiling. He always comes to the ballpark and is in a really great mood," Fried said. "When you see him play with the joy that he plays with every day, it's infectious and contagious."

Acuña, who received some "M-V-P!" chants during at-bats, went 1-for-6 and remained one homer shy of becoming just the fifth player in major league history with at least 40 homers and 40 steals in the same season. He has 39 home runs and 68 steals, including one Thursday.

His triple to left off rookie Jake Irvin (3-7) got the Braves going in the third, and Albies brought him home with a double to right. Acuña is the first player to reach 140 runs since 2007, when Alex Rodriguez got to 143.

Riley, Harris, Marcell Ozuna and Travis d'Arnaud tacked on RBIs as Atlanta batted around. Irvin allowed five runs, seven hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings.

"You got to attack. You can't fall behind," Washington manager Dave Martinez said. "Jake just fell behind a lot of good hitters. And when you fall behind, you got to give them good pitches to hit. That's what happened tonight."

Olson's homer came on reliever Cory Abbott's first pitch of the eighth.

Albies hit a two-run shot off Abbott in the ninth.

"I play hard, no matter what," Albies said. "We can be winning [by] a lot, losing [by] a lot. Doesn't matter."

Sources: Rays calling up top prospect Caminero

Published in Baseball
Thursday, 21 September 2023 22:31

The Tampa Bay Rays are calling up top infield prospect Junior Caminero, bolstering their roster for a stretch run that will cap one of the best seasons in franchise history, sources told ESPN.

Caminero, who turned 20 in July, will make the jump from Double-A, where he ascended after 36 dominant games this season at High-A. Between the stops, Caminero is hitting .324/.384/.591 with 31 home runs and 94 RBIs in 117 games.

A shortstop and third baseman, Caminero joins a Rays team that at 94-60 is 1 games behind Baltimore for the American League East lead. The No. 5 prospect in Kiley McDaniel's midseason rankings, Caminero is regarded for not just his offensive production but the elite exit velocities he has produced since the fortuitous November 2021 trade in which Tampa Bay acquired him from Cleveland for right-hander Tobias Myers.

Even though he was not in the big leagues by Sept. 1, Caminero will be eligible to join the Rays' postseason roster because he was already in the organization.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 157 pounds, Caminero is closer to 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, a physical specimen who joins a Rays lineup whose 809 runs scored are the fourth-most in the major leagues this season. The Rays' scoring has lagged in the second half, where they rank 13th in MLB, and in September, where they're 16th.

With All-Star shortstop Wander Franco on administrative leave while police in the Dominican Republic and MLB investigate allegations of inappropriate relationships with minors, the Rays have rotated Taylor Walls, rookie Osleivis Basabe and Tristan Gray at shortstop while using Isaac Paredes regularly at third, spelled by rookie Curtis Mead and Jonathan Aranda.

Caminero was set to be added to the Rays' major league roster this winter, but with a spate of left-handed pitching ahead for Tampa Bay and the potential he brings, the Rays summoned him. Fifteen months ago, Caminero was in extended spring training with Tampa Bay and, after destroying rookie league pitching, finished the season with 26 Low-A games.

The Rays challenged him with a promotion to High-A to start 2023 -- and he hit .356/.409/.685 with 11 home runs. His move to Double-A didn't slow him down, as Caminero was one of the Southern League's best hitters despite playing just 81 games there, with a .309/.373/.548 line, 20 home runs and 62 RBIs.

France captain Antoine Dupont is having tests after suffering a suspected fractured jaw during the hosts' record 96-0 win against Namibia.

Dupont, 26, left the pitch in the 46th minute after Johan Deysel made a head-on-head tackle and was sent off.

Scrum-half Dupont, who had earlier scored one of France's 14 tries, went off holding his right cheekbone.

"There's a suspicion of a crack or fracture in his jaw. He's gone for tests," head coach Fabien Galthie said.

"We'll wait for the results before moving forward. We need to take advantage of this great victory and the players' fine performance."

France general team manager Raphael Ibanez told ITV: "We feel sorry for Antoine. It just reminds us how dangerous head-to-head contact can be."

The loss of Dupont would be a severe blow to France's chances of winning the World Cup for the first time.

He was the world player of the year in 2021 and was voted Six Nations player of the tournament in 2022 and 2023.

After a hard-earned win over New Zealand in the tournament's opening game, Dupont was among 12 players rested for France's second group win over Uruguay.

France's full-strength side started against Namibia in Marseille on Thursday and - with Dupont at his creative best - were leading 54-0 when Deysel collided with the Frenchman.

The Namibian captain was initially shown a yellow card but that was upgraded to red following a review by the television match official.

Asked if he should have taken his star player off at half-time to protect him from injury, Galthie said: "What do you want me to say? You can't take 14 players off at half-time.

"Our plan was to bring off [forwards] one, three and five at half-time, then the rest at the 55th minute. The aim was to give everyone some game-time and not sit back for a month. The players wanted and needed to play."

Dupont was replaced by Lyon scrum-half Baptiste Couilloud, who scored two tries as France went on to surpass their previous record score of 87-10 against the same opponents at the 2007 World Cup.

The win moved the host nation top of Pool A and they will look to secure their place in the quarter-finals as group winners when they play Italy in their final pool game on 6 October.


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Albies, Acuña hit milestones in Braves' victory

Albies, Acuña hit milestones in Braves' victory

WASHINGTON -- Everyone knows about Ronald Acuña Jr., his bid to join the 40-40 club and his MVP cand...

Sources: Rays calling up top prospect Caminero

Sources: Rays calling up top prospect Caminero

The Tampa Bay Rays are calling up top infield prospect Junior Caminero, bolstering their roster for...

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