We bring you all the reaction from the Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool Allocation Draw in London.
Australia coach Robbie Deans: “By the time it comes around there’ll be a lot of anticipation and rightly so. The good thing is that we’ve got a broadening group and the circumstances of the autumn internationals allowed us to expose some more players to rugby at this level, and it’s good for them to have that experience.”
Australia flanker David Pocock: “There’s no easy pools in the World Cup and it’s a long way off so you’ve got to play with the cards that you’re dealt and from our point of view there’s plenty of rugby to be played before then, next big thing is the Lions and we’re pretty excited about that.
“If you want to win it you have to beat all the best teams and there’ll be a lot of hype around that game against England and the Welsh game especially if it is played at Millennium. Those will be two massive games, throw Fiji in the mix and there are no easy games in the World Cup and you wouldn’t want it any other way.
England coach Stuart Lancaster: “Yeah it was some draw, I guess it was fate. When we saw Wales were in the third band it was always in the stars that we were going to end up playing them. And so it was, Wales and Australia was a tough draw but an exciting one all the same.”
“The focus will be on our plan, to build the team and grow the team. I’m starting to get the management team I want in place and settled, and I don’t think there’ll be too many changes in the playing squad – I think the players we have are the right group now. So I’ll keep working on that and now I’ve got a few pre-season dates in the diary so we’ll work backwards from that.”
Wales coach Warren Gatland: “We’re in with teams that we’re not afraid of playing, but if you come out of that group it’s going to set up nicely for the quarter finals and potentially semi-finals. And even if you look at the last two World Cups, the two finalists came out of the same group. So we’ve got to go into that group with that confidence and self belief that it’s a tough group but we’re good enough to come out of it.
“We’re going to know everything about England by the time we meet them. We might need to keep a few things up our sleeve, something a bit different, a few more 13 man lineouts to throw people off the scent!”
Wales captain Sam Warburton: “You lose seven games in a row this year and that’s what’s going to happen really, that’s the players’ responsibility if we’re in the third band but it makes an exciting group. It was always going to be tough having a tier one and a tier two side in our group. Wales-Australia and Wales-England games have always been entertaining in the past and there’s two massive crowds that those games will attract and from a players’ point of view two very exciting games to play in.
“Wales are often tagged as the underdogs but there is always great belief in any Welsh team that they can turn anybody over and that is something which will hopefully carry through to the next World Cup, as long as players believe and are ambitious that’s the main key to success really.
“It’s as close to a home World Cup we’ll ever get so wherever the fixtures are played if it’s not at the Millennium Stadium, or if it’s Twickenham or Wembley there’s going to be a massive travelling support from Wales which as a player is something you look forward to.
“There’s 12 teams now that have been seeded but rugby in the world is getting stronger and stronger and add another three years to that teams will only be getting better and better and it’s great for the World Cup that there are those competitive sides.”
South Africa captain Jean De Villiers: “You need to get through your pool, that’s the most important thing. It is not so much who you play in your pool it is getting through it and then winning the next three games to win the Cup. It’ll be tough anyway, it doesn’t matter which pool you’re in, and hopefully we’ll finish first or second in our pool.
“I was walking into the draw with (Samoa captain) David Lemi and I told him that hopefully this time around we’ll miss each other but, so be it, we got selected together.
“Every game at the Rugby World Cup will be tough and I think in three years’ time, with the progression that a lot of the so-called weaker teams have shown in the last couple of years, it’ll be even more competitive. A team like Scotland will bounce back from their recent loss against Tonga and we’ll probably be looking at a team like Japan as Asia 1. With a coach like Eddie Jones they’ll definitely improve. With Americas 2 you’re probably looking at Canada or USA and they are constantly improving. You need to go into all the games with the right mental attitude and be up for it otherwise you might find yourself falling short.”
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer: “I believe you are masters of your own destiny and if you look into the permutations too much and you look at who you’re going to play it gets into your mind and you lose focus. I believe if you want to win the Rugby World Cup you have to win seven games. Obviously I am happy to be here and it is a great occasion, but as South Africa coach it is still far too early to talk about being at the World Cup. I just hope our side can improve year by year.”
Scotland attack coach Scott Johnson: “We got what we got and now it is up to us to get our part right and get through to the next stage. It’ll be nice to get some of those brutal southern hemisphere sides up in the north where, maybe with some inclement weather, the physicality part will be taken out of it somewhat.
“If you add in the likes of Japan who play a very, very vibrant game of rugby we have contradictions in the style of rugby played by the teams in our pool and that is something we will have to deal with for us to get through.
“Every time you start a tournament you want to get through to the knockout stages. I don’t think your past is anything to do with your future, I think the reality is that you’ve got to concentrate on getting your own part right. If we do our part right we’ll get through that pool, and that’s what we intend to do.”
Samoa captain David Lemi: “It’s massive for us, before the tour we had been set our target to be in the top eight in the world, but credit to the boys and the all the management for the work behind the scenes, who allowed us to perform away from home and to be in a good pool in 2015 World Cup. This result it means a lot for the people in Samoa, it’s the first time we’re ranked 7th in the world.
“This is the first time that we split each other, Tonga and Fiji in a different pool. South Africa again, I spoke to their captain today and said What’s happening, us again? But this is the reality of the game we play, we need to prepare well, it’s a long game to game and hopefully once 2015 comes we’ll be up to at the standards we want to be competing at the 2015 World Cup.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen: “I think it will create a bit of excitement around the world and from our point of view we are reasonably happy but a lot of things can change between now and World Cup time so we won’t get too far ahead of ourselves.
“Argentina we will know about because we play them now in a tournament every year so they will be strong as they always are and they will know a lot of about us, that fear factor I guess of each other won’t be as strong. Tonga we know they can turn it on on any given moment and if we get them on a night when they want to be really physical then we will have to be on our game, I think there is a enough of a challenge in that pool to get us ready for a quarter-final.”
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw: “I think we’re reasonably happy, I suppose when they came to drawing out those last four teams I was pretty happy New Zealand didn’t come out where Australia did but it is what it is and you have got to deal with whatever is put infront of you. We will have our own challenges whoever we play with Argentina and Tonga and then you earn your way through the next one. You have just got to get it right whatever is ahead of you.
“A little bit (of holding his breath when band one team being drawn for Pool A), but had I been standing there and we had been in that pool then you go, well that is what you have got to deal with and if you are going to win it you have got to be good enough to deal with it. That is the way it is.”
Argentina captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe: “Every match in a Rugby World Cup is hard. About New Zealand, there’s not much to add, they are the world champions and until they lost with England last Saturday, they had a record of 20 matches without losing. On the other side, Tonga has been growing up a lot and in the last World Cup they beat France. Anyway, I think we are in a great pool.
“The fact that we are in the same group as the All Blacks we will strengthen our chances by being part of The Rugby Championship. We have to take advantage of playing against them twice every year. That is very important for us in order to continue growing and keep on learning, so we don’t repeat what we did against New Zealand in the last Rugby World Cup.
“In some way, after the pool draw, we can start thinking about the matches and how the quarter-finals could be. But we have to bear in mind that we all have to work very hard individually to improve and get to RWC 2015 in the best way we can.”
Tonga Rugby Union President Epeli Taione: “I think it is the best draw that we ever had, we couldn’t wish for a better draw for us. The biggest thing for us is a massive relief that we avoid our fellow Pacific Islanders in Samoa and Fiji and now we can just focus on Argentina and New Zealand. In the last couple of years the improvement and the strides we have made we believe we have the abilities to go out there and get competitive on world stages and we are looking forward to that. Two years is a long time in international rugby but we can only improve as a Pacific Islands team. I couldn’t ask for a better draw.”
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre: “We have a very European pool with Ireland and Italy that we play every year in the Six Nations but the reality of 2012 and the reality of 2015 are very different so it’s important for us to keep working hard and arrive with plenty of confidence in 2015.
“Often in the pool stages the difference between finishing first and second are the bonus points and the gap you can create with these two teams (qualifying teams) is very important from this aspect.”
France captain Thierry Dusautoir: “We have a very European pool, it’s like playing in a little Six Nations, and we’ll see what happens! The good thing is not to be in Pool A which is very, very difficult. But if you look back at the World Cups the little teams are very efficient, we lost to Tonga last year so we will be watching out for the qualifiers.
“What is important is the passion for Rugby and for sport in general, England is a great country and the English people love sport as they showed during the Olympics. What matters will be the atmosphere created and I hope the fans will enjoy it, the players definitely will.”
Italy captain Sergio Parisse: “It’s not an easy pool, but surely not the toughest of the ones drawn today. We avoided the defending champion All Blacks and England who’ll be playing at home which is a detail not to be forgotten.
“France and Ireland are two very hard opponents and we know each other well, they’re the European teams that have performed better in the November Tests, but we’ll have to see where they’ll be in three years’ time and what standards we’ll have reached.”
Italy coach Jacques Brunel: “Surely we can’t have any other ambition than to qualify for the quarter-finals, we’ll face France and Ireland three times before the World Cup and we’ll see from here to 2015 how the balance on the field will change.”
Ireland coach Declan Kidney: “Obviously you want to do more than get out of the group. There’s been other years where we’ve been glad to get out of the group, and I suppose that’s where Irish rugby sits at the moment. What we need to do now is not get above ourselves, do our best to get ourselves out of the group because in the last World Cup it took a very good performance to beat Italy in the last match to secure that pool win. There’s a lot of planning going into this, making sure you have a strong group of players because at any given time you can lose a player, and you don’t want the loss of one player to upset your plans totally.”
Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll: “It looks like an okay draw, could have been better, could have been worse but being three years away there’s still a lot of rugby to be played. But as a national side we’ve never got above a quarter-final so there’s incentive enough to try and progress beyond that – but you can’t do that until you get out of your pool.
“For me there’s no temptation (to play at RWC 2015) to be honest, I haven’t thought about what I’m doing next year let alone three years time but I think it’s fair to say I’m not gonna be around for that one!”
And the nations hoping to qualify for RWC 2015:
Namibia captain Jacques Burger: “Definitely I think the tough thing is we haven’t qualified yet and you can’t just put yourself in a place but obviously that would be the ideal situation if we go through as Africa 1. It is mouth-watering if look at those teams, it is going to be tough but it is always going to be tough for us, it doesn’t matter who we play, it will be an honour to play any of those teams in that pool.
“One thing about the English is they do know how to set up a good tournament, we have seen that with the Olympics and I can’t wait to see what the 2015 Rugby World Cup is going to be like. I think tha tis going to be something special, To be part of that would be amazing. It will be an honour ot be involved in the World Cup and I think it is going to be a special tournament.”
Japan coach Eddie Jones: “In the World Cup every pool is tough. In South Africa we’ve got one of the Tier One countries, we play against Samoa quite regularly and Scotland is a very good team but if we play well against them we’ve got a chance of beating them. Firstly we’ve got to qualify before we’ll worry about the World Cup.
“Previously Japanese teams have gone to the World Cup saying they are going to win one game, win two games … for us we’ll have an entirely different approach because we will go there to win every game. We’re just going to go there and play to the best of our ability.”