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England without Vunipola, Nowell for opening RWC matches

NEWCASTLE, England (AP) — England will be without prop Mako Vunipola and wing Jack Nowell for at least their first two games of the Rugby World Cup in Japan. Coach Eddie Jones confirmed the extent of their injuries on Friday after his side completed their World Cup warmup series by beating Italy 37-0 at St. James' Park.

Vunipola tore scar tissue on an old hamstring injury as a second-half replacement against Ireland last month, while Nowell has been recovering from a serious ankle injury. "We feel he (Vunipola) will be right possibly for game three or four" of their World Cup pool, Jones said.

"Jack in the last couple of days has taken off and we've had to hold him back, but he should be right again around the same time as Mako." This means they will miss the Pool C games against Tonga and the United States, and may be available for the remaining pool games against Argentina on Oct. 5 and France on Oct. 12.

Lock Joe Launchbury limped off in the first half against Italy, but Jones described his back injury as "not too serious." England heads to Japan on Sunday.

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