Rugby World Cup: George tells England to relish Fiji clash
Wales boss Warren Gatland has hit back at the critics that his side are benefiting from an ‘easier’ draw as they are set to face Argentina in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup on Saturday. The Welsh know that victory against the Pumas will put them in the final four against either Ireland or New Zealand, as they are one game away from matching their best-ever result at the tournament.
In Paris, the top four ranked teams in the world are set to face each other in the quarters – leading to complaints that World Rugby have made the wrong decision to organise the draw for the tournament three years in advance. Former Ireland star Tommy Bowe called the draw a “disgrace” and has not been the only one unhappy with how the schedule is decided.
The draw for the 2023 tournament was made back in December 2020, a year on from the previous World Cup and the seedings then dictated the current edition – as the top four teams at that time in South Africa, New Zealand, England and Wales all separated in the quarter-finals.
But circumstances have since changed with France and Ireland now placed in the top four, but Gatland has had a message to those critics. When asked if he was comfortable with his team being favourites for their upcoming quarter-final, Gatland replied: “Absolutely.”
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He then stirred the pot by claiming that the likes of Ireland and France should have had better performances in the past while pointing out that Wales arguably had the toughest pool as they were paired with Fiji and Australia.
“I’d just say to the other teams, they should have done better in the last World Cup,” Gatland continued. “That’s where the draw comes from. It’s not our fault that it has happened. If teams had got better performances and results at the last World Cup, there would be a different draw.
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“You didn’t hear us complaining in 2015 when we got Fiji, Australia, England and ourselves in the same pool. You are dealt a hand and you’ve just got to deal with it. I agree with the sentiment that the draw may have been done too early. It was probably done too early before 2019 as well.
“Whether the people in control of that next time can put the pools together later, that’s up to them. We can’t change what has been done. All I can say is we are only in control of what we are doing. We are happy with the progress we’ve made, given a lot of people said we wouldn’t get out of our group. We can only play and do what is in front of us.”
World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont has since confirmed that the governing body will be holding the draw for the 2027 World Cup “as late as possible” in order to avoid a repeat of this year’s lopsided tournament.
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