Ben Youngs says the "unbelievably special" Tom Curry can go on to become one of England's greatest back-rowers.

Curry has been outstanding in England's run to the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup and the 21-year-old was named man of the match in the quarter-final hammering of Australia last weekend.

England scrum-half Youngs says there is plenty more to come from flanker Curry,  who has forged a formidable back-row pairing with the 23-year-old Sam Underhill.

"Being an older member of the squad, you see these young guys come in and you want them to be successful," said Youngs.

"Tom is an unbelievably special player. He works incredibly hard and nothing seems to faze him. He's in this bubble - and he's just loving every moment of it.

"Things like that are infectious and I'm sure he'll continue to grow and grow as a player. I'm sure he'll go on to be one of the greatest back-rowers England have ever had, I've no doubt.

"Underhill, though he looks a lot older, isn't too old himself. Both those guys, and the energy they bring - I'm just pleased and proud of them."

Youngs said England know they have no margin for error when they attempt to dethrone New Zealand on Saturday, having missed out a victory over the All Blacks last year when Underhill's late try was ruled out as Courtney Lawes was offside.

"[We learned] the importance of how error-free you have to be — and you saw that again at the weekend with Ireland [in the quarter-final] — a couple of Ireland mistakes and they [New Zealand] are down at the other end, scoring off the back of it," the pivot said.

Faf de Klerk has put the boot in on his social media critics as South Africa prepare to try and kick Wales out of the Rugby World Cup on Sunday. 

Scrum-half De Klerk was named man of the match after his starring role in the 26-3 quarter-final victory over tournament hosts Japan. 

That did not stop some Springboks supporters from calling on the playmaker to cut down on putting up the high balls ahead of a last-four showdown with the reigning Six Nations champions. 

De Klerk defended South Africa's tactics, however, pointing out they were effective in putting their opponents on the back foot. 

"We do kick a lot, but we try to read the game and the momentum. So, if you look at last weekend, we did kick a lot in the air, and Japan managed to contain our aerial battle," De Klerk said. 

"But if you look further than that, we managed to get so much territorial gain on them with our defence, with the guys being loaded on that. 

"It was a very positive outcome when we kicked. We did give them possession, but they rarely managed to do anything with it." 

On facing Wales, he added: "It is going to be a different challenge this week. I don't think we are going to have the same threats as that [Japan provided].

"It's all about seeing the space, and I feel our wings have come so far over the last two years. They are really competing well in the air.

"They [Wales] have got very good wingers, so it is going to be a massive battle in the air. We don't always go out with a set plan of me just going up and kicking.

"We do read the game, and I listen a lot to what Handre [Pollard] is telling me."

John Mitchell wished New Zealand good luck if they want to spy on England ahead of the Rugby World Cup semi-final but says it would not give them an advantage.

England head coach Eddie Jones claimed someone was spotted filming England's training session on Tuesday.

Jones said it may have been a Japanese fan seen in an apartment overlooking the pitch, but admitted he used to spy on opponents.

Defence coach Mitchell does not believe the All Blacks would gain anything from seeing how England were preparing for a titanic battle in Yokohama City on Saturday.

"If that is what they want to do, and that is the way they want to prepare, good luck to them," the New Zealander said.

He added: "We just happened to be training where there are apartments above our tiny two-metre fence, so I am not sure about what the use of the tarpaulins are.

"The facilities have been excellent but it's an area where people live and there is the odd red light around. There was one up in the corner, which was a bit suspicious.

"It doesn't really worry me. This game is so dynamic now so I don't see any advantage in spying on a team."

Mitchell revealed spying is not uncommon at the highest level of rugby.

"When I took over the All Blacks in 2001 we had a manager who was highly military and he loved surveying the whole area," he said.

"To me, you can get too involved in it and create an anxiety in your group. There is enough pressure at this level without chasing around some blokes that might be in a building with a camera.

"I was with Sir Clive Woodward when we were going for a Grand Slam against Scotland and we chased somebody from one of the papers around the corner and caught him in a hedge.

"He was pretty unlucky actually but that was when the game was a lot different to what it is now. I've seen coaches spy, I've had other coaches spy. I've had mates spy as well, but I don't see any advantage."

Ross Moriarty feared his Rugby World Cup might be over just 90 seconds after he came on in Wales' quarter-final win over France.

Moriarty was called upon earlier than expected at Oita Stadium on Sunday, replacing the injured Josh Navidi in the first half.

The back-row was soon back on the sideline after being shown a yellow card for catching Gael Fickou with a high tackle.

Moriarty returned to score a decisive late try, having feared referee Jaco Peyper may have ended his tournament and potentially brought Wales' campaign to an end.

"I was just thinking, 'please, please don't be a red'," said Moriarty.

"That was definitely a big moment. I had been on for only 90 seconds and I was thinking to myself, 'if he gives me a red card, this is the end of me'.

"I knew how bad that would be for the team. I've been in that situation before and it's not a nice feeling. I never go into a game intending to do anything that would get me a card or put the team at any risk of not winning.

"It was a mistimed tackle. I closed my eyes and thought he was going to run round me, but he stopped and ducked under me."

He added: "It was nice for me to know I didn't cause any damage. I talked to him [Fickou] after the game and he was absolutely fine. We had a good laugh.

"I knew when I came back on I had to be very, very squeaky clean and make sure I didn't do any more damage to the team and myself.

"But it does stick in your mind. I was thinking, 'Please, no one come near me'. Sometimes people slip up in tackles, players duck and dive. It's a contact sport - it's inevitable sometimes. Fortunately, there were no other incidents in the game."

Michael Cheika believes his successor as Wallabies head coach should "definitely" be Australian.

Australia were dumped out of the Rugby World Cup in a 40-16 quarter-final defeat to England on Saturday.

Cheika brought his five-year stint in charge, which included a run to the World Cup final in 2015, to an end after the defeat.

New Zealand coaches Jamie Joseph and Dave Rennie have been linked with the post but, when touching down after flying back from Japan, Cheika told reporters Rugby Australia should look at home for their next appointment.

"I think definitely we should be pushing for an Australian coach," he said. 

"It's not up to me but I think we should be backing and supporting Australian coaches wherever possible."

Cheika had said before the tournament that he would step down if Australia failed to lift the trophy and he insists there was never a chance he would change his decision.

"We came second last time and I figure [after] four years you've got to come first next time," he added. 

"You can't call it and then change your mind afterwards because that's genuinely what we wanted to do - go there and win."

Skipper Michael Hooper paid tribute to Cheika's contribution on and off the training field.

"Cheik's been amazing, me personally I owe that man a lot," he said. "The passion that he represented us or stood up for us all the time and just generally wanted the best for Australian rugby. 

"Not just for the team, not just for him selfishly being the coach of the team but wanting the best for Australian rugby. 

"After he's long gone, to leave something that's positive, he's always believed in that and I think he will. 

"He's made me a better person, not just a rugby player. So, I've got a lot to thank him for that."

Kieran Read is "100 per cent" fit for New Zealand's Rugby World Cup semi-final against England, insists head coach Steve Hansen.

Influential skipper Read was absent from the All Blacks' training session on Tuesday to spark fears over his availability for the mouth-watering showdown in Yokohama.

However, Hansen says Read was nursing a sore calf that New Zealand did not want to exacerbate in wet conditions.

"There is no issue. You didn't see him train because he was in the gym on the bike," Hansen said. 

"He got a tight calf from the game the other day and we didn't want to put him out on a wet track."

Pressed on if Read will face England, Hansen replied: "Yeah, 100 per cent."

Team-mate Sam Whitelock had a somewhat cheekier retort when asked about Read's absence from training.

"A bit of the banter around the team is that he didn't want to get wet today!" he said. 

"I'm sure he'll be fine. He's a tough man, he just didn't want to get wet."

England coach Eddie Jones described New Zealand as "the greatest team there's ever been in sport" ahead of the last-four meeting.

Hansen, while grateful for the compliment from his long-time friend, feels there may be a bit of kidology at play from a man renowned for a love of mind games.

"That's a really nice statement," Hansen said with a grin. "I'm sure Eddie believes that but he's also being quite kind.

"It's [kidology] a real thing but sometimes you're better not to go there. Eddie is a smart man. He knows me well, I know him." 

Jaco Peyper has not been selected to referee a Rugby World Cup semi-final after a photo emerged of him with Wales fans apparently mocking France's sent-off lock Sebastien Vahaamahina.

The South African, who was overseeing his 50th Test, dismissed Vahaamahina during Wales' incident-packed 20-19 last-eight win over Les Bleus for elbowing Aaron Wainwright.

France coach Jacques Brunel and Wales counterpart Warren Gatland backed the decision but the picture, which was widely circulated on social media, drew criticism and was investigated by World Rugby.

On Tuesday, it was confirmed Welshman Nigel Owens will officiate England versus New Zealand on Saturday, while France's Jerome Garces is the man in the middle for Wales against South Africa a day later.

A World Rugby statement said Peyper has apologised.

"World Rugby can confirm that the match officials selection committee did not consider Jaco Peyper for selection this weekend," the release read.

"Peyper recognises that a picture of him with Wales fans, which appeared on social media after the Wales versus France quarter-final, was inappropriate and he has apologised."

Wales have drafted in Cardiff Blues winger Owen Lane as a squad replacement for back-rower Josh Navidi ahead of the Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa.

Powerhouse Navidi was ruled out after sustaining a hamstring injury in the edgy 20-19 last-eight triumph over France in Oita on Sunday.

With Wales well stocked in the back row, head coach Warren Gatland has opted to bolster his backs.

Centre Jonathan Davies was a late withdrawal against France due to a problematic knee injury, while Hadleigh Parkes has been playing through a broken bone in his hand and a shoulder complaint.

Lane has just one Wales cap to his name, that coming against Ireland in August.

Eddie Jones claimed an England training session was spied on ahead of their blockbuster Rugby World Cup semi-final with New Zealand.

The head coach said the team were aware of someone filming from an apartment close to their Chiba training base, though he did not directly accuse the All Blacks of any underhand tactics.

Jones stated such methods were commonplace in the past but are now redundant such is the information readily available.

"There was definitely someone in the apartment block filming, but it might have been a Japanese fan," he told a media conference.

"We don't care, mate. We knew it from the start, but it doesn't change anything. We love it. It's part of the fun of the World Cup. We have got someone there [at New Zealand's training] now mate!

"I haven't done it since 2001. I used to do it. You just don't need to do it anymore. You can see everything. You can watch everyone's training on YouTube. 

"There's no value in doing that sort of thing – absolutely zero. Everyone knows what everyone does – there are no surprises in world rugby anymore. You just have to be good enough on the day."

England face a daunting task in Yokohama on Saturday against a New Zealand side chasing a third straight World Cup triumph.

Jones, though, believes his side can play without fear against the All Blacks, of who he says "the pressure will be chasing them down the street".

"We get to play one of the greatest teams ever that are shooting for a 'three-peat', which has never been done, so that brings an element of pressure," he added. 

"We don't have any pressure. No one thinks we can win. There are 120 million Japanese people out there whose second team are the All Blacks. 

"So, there's no pressure on us, we've just got to have a great week, enjoy it, relax. Train hard and enjoy this great opportunity we've got, whereas they've got to be thinking about how they're looking for their third World Cup and so that brings some pressure.

"It's our job to take the time and space away so that we put them under pressure. New Zealand talk about walking towards pressure, well this week the pressure is going to be chasing them down the street. That's the reality of it, that's how we're approaching it.

"Pressure is a real thing. The busiest bloke in Tokyo this week will be Gilbert Enoka – the [New Zealand] mental skills coach. 

"They have to deal with all this pressure of winning the World Cup three times and it is potentially the last game for their greatest coach and their greatest captain, and they will be thinking about those things. 

"Those thoughts go through your head. It is always harder to defend a World Cup and they will be thinking about that, therefore there is pressure."

France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina has announced his retirement from Test rugby, just 24 hours after he received a costly red card in his country's Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss to Wales.

Les Bleus' run in Japan ended on Sunday when Warren Gatland's team edged a tight encounter 20-19.

France were leading 19-10 when Vahaamahina was dismissed nine minutes into the second half for elbowing Aaron Wainwright, and the 14 men were unable to hang on as Wales avenged their 2011 semi-final loss to the same opponents.

Vahaamahina, 28, has now sent a message to Eurosport Rugbyrama saying he is walking away from international rugby, a decision he claims he reached earlier this year.

"It's hard, very hard for me today - especially because, as I have planned for several months, it was my last match with the national team," he said.

"I hadn't made a public announcement of my retirement but the people impacted by the decision have known since the summer: [France coach] Jacques Brunel, [Clermont Auvergne coach] Franck Azema and several of the players.

"I wanted to have the best possible match and tournament to finish on... perhaps I wanted it too much. My desire and my aggression got the better of me."

The lock received his marching orders from referee Jaco Peyper, who is now the subject of a World Rugby investigation after he appeared to mock the man he dismissed in a picture taken with Wales fans.

A photo circulated on social media of Peyper with his elbow raised to a fan's chin.

France Rugby Federation vice-president Serge Simon demanded an explanation from the South African official.

He tweeted: "This photo if it is true is shocking and explanations will be necessary."

World Rugby confirmed they are looking into the matter.

"World Rugby is aware of a picture on social media of referee Jaco Peyper with a group of Wales fans taken after last night's [Sunday's] quarter-final between Wales and France in Oita," the governing body said.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further while we are establishing the facts."

The Rugby World Cup semi-finals will feature the top four teams in world rugby after the rankings were updated following the quarter-finals.

England and South Africa, courtesy of their convincing wins over Australia and hosts Japan respectively, both climbed one place.

Eddie Jones' side moved above Wales into second, behind defending world champions New Zealand - who England face on Saturday - and the Springboks leapfrogged Ireland.

Six Nations champions Wales beat France 20-19, though even a larger margin of victory would not have kept them from dropping down to third.

Japan had risen to their highest ever ranking after Australia's defeat to England, but the Wallabies moved back into sixth after the Brave Blossoms' loss to South Africa.

France are seventh, with Japan eighth, ahead of Scotland and Argentina, who complete the top 10.

Despite their exit at the hands of South Africa, Japan have won over many fans at the World Cup, with coach Jamie Joseph believing his side are well on their way to becoming a top-five team.

"The team has worked incredibly hard for three years, and this year we worked harder than we've worked ever before," Joseph told a news conference.

"That's put us in a really good position to strive for our goals, which is making the top five in the world."

Wales will be without Josh Navidi for the rest of their Rugby World Cup campaign after the back-rower sustained a hamstring injury in the quarter-final win over France.

Warren Gatland's side secured their place in the last four with a dramatic 20-19 victory over Les Bleus, who had Sebastien Vahaamahina sent off.

Navidi had overtaken Ross Moriarty as Wales' first-choice number eight in Japan but was forced off during the first half on Sunday.

Gatland - who plans to bring in a back, rather than another forward to replace the Cardiff Blues player - has confirmed Navidi's World Cup is over.

"He'll be ruled out. He's no good," Gatland, whose side will face South Africa in the last four, told a news conference on Monday.

"We'll be looking to bring in a replacement tomorrow [Tuesday], but we've got to go through that process.

"It's disappointing for him. We'll keep him out here. It will be nice for him to stay out for the next couple of weeks. 

"It's disappointing for us to have a player ruled out. In saying that, these games are so physical to have only lost one player is a real positive for us.

"We've been pretty lucky. We're trying to keep everyone as healthy as we possibly can."

Jonathan Davies missed the quarter-final due to a knee injury, but Gatland is hopeful the centre will be available for selection on Sunday.

"He was touch and go for the weekend. He's been doing rehab and recovery," Gatland said of Davies.

"Hopefully he'll be up and running for a very light session tomorrow. We'll be doing more of the rugby on Wednesday. Hopefully he's fit and available."

Gatland claimed "the best side lost" following Wales' victory over France, but the outgoing coach was satisfied with his side's resilience and strength of character. 

"We're a bit disappointed about the performance. France played exceptionally well," he added. "I thought we showed some great character and got the win.

"Disappointed with a few aspects but looking forward it's about being excited about the semi-final of a World Cup."

England expect Jonny May and Jack Nowell to be fit for their Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, according to assistant coach Neal Hatley.

May scored two tries in England's dominant 40-16 victory over Australia on Saturday, helping Eddie Jones' side set up a last-four tie with the All Blacks, who thrashed Ireland.

However, England had cause for concern over May when the wing suffered a hamstring injury, while Nowell has also been dealing with a similar problem.

But Hatley has revealed both players are expected to be available for selection for Saturday's contest in Yokohama.

"It's fantastic where we are, all 31 being available for selection at the end of the week," said Hatley in a news conference.

"Jonny's bouncing around this morning. He has a small twinge and we'll assess where he is a little bit later today.

"He's in really good spirits, moving well, and we expect Jack to be fit for selection as well."

England last met reigning world champions New Zealand at Twickenham in November 2018, with the All Blacks edging out a 16-15 victory. Hatley, though, insists neither side should read too much into that previous meeting.

"I think the goal for us is to get better every day. I think we've improved, but they've improved as well. I don't think we can take a lot from what happened in Autumn," he added.

"You know, they were missing a few, we were missing a few, and I think both sides have improved since then, it's a whole different situation.

"We've got certain things that we'll l want to do in that first 15, 20 minutes and we need to focus on what we do right, then hopefully we'll replicate the same start."

Jones, meanwhile, lauded the current New Zealand side as the "greatest team" of all time - and not just in rugby union, either.

"We are playing the greatest team there has ever been in sport," he told reporters. "If you look at their record, I don't think there's a team that comes close to them for sustainability.

"Name me another team in the world that plays at the absolute top level that wins 90 per cent of their games.

"Now, talent doesn't matter. When you get to this stage of the tournament, it's about how strong the team is. The reason I took this job is because I saw a team that could be great and that was the challenge and they are starting to believe it."

World Rugby has opened an investigation after referee Jaco Peyper appeared to mock Sebastien Vahaamahina in a photo with Wales fans.

Peyper, taking charge of his 50th Test, sent Vahaamahina off in Wales' dramatic Rugby World Cup triumph over Les Bleus on Sunday, with the lock dismissed for elbowing Aaron Wainwright.

Though head coaches Jacques Brunel and Warren Gatland backed Peyper's decision, the South African official is now at the centre of an investigation after he posed for a photo with a group of Wales supporters.

In the picture, which was circulated on social media, Peyper has his elbow raised into a fan's chin.

France Rugby Federation vice-president Serge Simon took to his official Twitter account to demand an explanation.

He posted: "This photo if it is true is shocking and explanations will be necessary."

World Rugby confirmed they are looking into the matter.

"World Rugby is aware of a picture on social media of referee Jaco Peyper with a group of Wales fans taken after last night's [Sunday's] quarter-final between Wales and France in Oita," the governing body said.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further while we are establishing the facts."

Rassie Erasmus was thankful South Africa "knew which buttons to push" to fend off the threat of another Rugby World Cup defeat to Japan.

After their stunning loss to the Brave Blossoms four years ago in Brighton, it was a different story at the Tokyo Stadium on Sunday as South Africa emerged 26-3 winners.

They will face Wales in the semi-finals next Sunday in Yokohama, and the Springboks were buoyant after seeing off familiar foes in the quarters.

But the lead had been just 5-3 at half-time, and Erasmus admitted: "We were nervous."

He and his coaching staff largely stayed out of dressing-room discussions, leaving it for the likes of captain Siya Kolisi to set minds at ease.

"Going in at half-time only being up a few points and leaving a few tries out there, there was definitely a little bit of a lull and a quietness in our changing room," Erasmus said.

"But I think, being together for 17 weeks, the guys knew which buttons to push to get ourselves out of that lull and come out and produce in the second half. We're very proud of that."

Makazole Mapimpi grabbed his second try of the game and man of the match Faf de Klerk also dotted down as South Africa gradually ground down the energetic hosts.

Erasmus praised the "intensity and tenacity" of Japan, suggesting they would be worthy additions to the Rugby Championship – currently contested by the Springboks, Australia, South Africa and Argentina – if logistics made it viable.

"I do know the brand they play is pretty exciting and it would really fit in," said Erasmus, calling it "a nice proposition" but stressing he had not been party to any such discussions.

Erasmus was thrilled with the defensive strength of his team, as they nullified Japan's attacking vibrancy when both Ireland and Scotland had succumbed.

"I think we trust our system really well and we know defence is a pretty important thing if you want to win a World Cup," Erasmus added in his post-match news conference.

The former Munster coach thinks his experience in the Pro14 competition, facing Welsh club sides, could be useful as South Africa when to clear the last hurdle before the final.

"I've got good hidings against Scarlets and those guys when I was coaching Munster, and good wins against them as well," he said.

"They are definitely a team with a lot of X factor, but one thing that strikes me about them ... is they've got a great coaching staff and I think they've created depth in every single position.

"They've got good confidence, great team spirit. It'll be a big challenge for us. Knowing the way the Welsh teams play may help me a little bit."

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