Warren Gatland: Wales can bring the Rugby World Cup home
Kiwi backs his side to triumph in Japan - and Clive Woodward agrees
After securing the Six Nations championship and grand slam Wales head coach Warren Gatland is now backing his side to win this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Wales completed the Six Nations slam on Saturday in Cardiff and the victory against Ireland extended their winning run to 14 games - a record for the nation.
Speaking at a Six Nations celebration ceremony in the Welsh capital, New Zealander Gatland said that his squad’s fitness and togetherness could make the difference at the Rugby World Cup, which takes place in Japan from September to November.
“I promise you that these guys will give 100% in every game at the World Cup and, if we play as well as we have for the last year, then we can bring home the World Cup,” said Gatland, who has now won three Six Nations grand slams with Wales.
“We’ve got a very special group of players at the moment. We enjoy each other’s company, we challenge each other on a lot of things, but once we make a decision, we back each other 100%.
Wales will play warm-up matches against England and Ireland this summer before heading to Japan where they are in World Cup pool D with Australia, Fiji, Georgia and Uruguay.
Gatland added: “You need a little bit of luck and hopefully we don’t pick up too many injuries. We’ll have a few months preparation and, as we have in the last few World Cups, we’ll be one of the fittest teams, if not the fittest, there.”
Woodward: Wales can do the double
Former England head coach Sir Clive Woodward, who led his side to victory at the 2003 Rugby World Cup, also believes that Wales can triumph in Japan.
Writing in the Daily Mail Woodward said: “There is no doubt their confidence and momentum will be huge. To win not just the Championship but the grand slam is huge.
“They have forgotten how to lose. No team will want to play them. They are settled on and off the field, nothing new needs to happen, it is now down to getting their strongest team fit.”
Jones: Gatland could switch to England
After 12 years in charge of Wales Gatland will step down from the role after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The 55-year-old Kiwi has been linked with England as a potential replacement for Eddie Jones.
It is a switch that Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones has not ruled out. Jones told The Daily Telegraph: “In professional sport, you never say never. I am sure he will have a little bit of time off and take a break away from it and then decide what he wants to do. If he does [move to England], we wish him well.”
Wigan want clarification from Edwards
Wales defensive coach Shaun Edwards is set to become the new head coach of rugby league side Wigan Warriors, but according to The Guardian his future is still up in the air.
Edwards said at the weekend that he is yet to sign a contract with the Super League champions and Wigan are now urging the 52-year-old to “clarify his intentions”.
“I agreed with Wigan and thought we would sign a contract,” said Edwards. “But then Wigan said: ‘It’s OK, we’ll sign one later,’ and I thought that was unusual.
“That was nine months ago. I’ll consider all offers, league, union. All I can say is that I haven’t signed anything with anybody.”
In a statement the rugby league side said: “Wigan Warriors are aware of quotes from Shaun Edwards regarding his future arrangements. Following the conclusion of the Six Nations and Shaun’s comments, we have been seeking dialogue with Shaun directly since Sunday to clarify to Wigan his intentions.”
Wales rugby fixtures in 2019
2019 summer internationals (all times UK)
- 11 August: England vs. Wales (2pm; Twickenham Stadium, London)
- 17 August: Wales vs. England (6pm; Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
- 31 August: Wales vs. Ireland (5pm; Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
- 7 September: Ireland vs. Wales (5pm; Aviva Stadium, Dublin)
Rugby World Cup pool D: Australia, Fiji, Wales, Georgia, Uruguay
- 23 September: Wales vs. Georgia (11.15am; City of Toyota Stadium, Aichi)
- 29 September: Australia vs. Wales (8.45am; Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)
- 9 October: Wales vs. Fiji (10.45am; Oita Stadium, Oita)
- 13 October: Wales vs. Uruguay (9.15am; Kumamoto Prefectural Athletic Stadium, Kumamoto)