Gatland excited by tough draw
December 3, 2012
Wales will face England and Australia in a tough World Cup pool © PA Photos
Wales head coach Warren Gatland declared his side's daunting World Cup draw as "tough but really exciting".
Gatland's side were drawn with England and Australia in Pool A at the 2015 World Cup draw in London on Monday, with Fiji and Uruguay thought to be the leading contenders to complete the group via the qualification process.
Wales have lost to Australia four times in the last year, with their most recent defeat to the Wallabies an agonising 14-12 loss at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday. That defeat capped a miserable autumn campaign and saw them slip in the world rankings which in turn ensured a nightmare draw featuring two of the sides ranked above them. There is also the added spice of Gatland leading the British & Irish Lions on their tour of Australia next summer.
As for England, the Welsh have won the last two matches between the nations with the last victory coming at Twickenham in February on their way to the Six Nations Grand Slam. But the teams have never been drawn together in the pool stages of a World Cup.
Gatland told Sky Sports News: "It is a great group. They are teams that know each other pretty well and have had some pretty good battles in recent times. So it's a tough group but a really exciting group.
"We were in a tough group last time with Samoa, South Africa and Fiji. It is tough for us but it is tough for Australia and England as well. The last three games against Australia we have lost it right on full time.
"There is a lot of rugby to be played before 2015 but it should be incredibly exciting. It would be great for two northern hemisphere teams to put out one of the southern hemisphere teams for a change. If you qualify through that group you are in great shape for the quarter finals. And with potentially Fiji in as well it is a really tough group but we will be pretty well prepared."
Wales captain Sam Warburton added: "We had a group of death in the last World Cup so we are used to the situation. It's a fascinating pool. Wales against Australia has always been a good game.
"As for England v Wales, there is enough rivalry there without it being the World Cup. From a players' point of view we are guaranteed to play in front of a packed house against England which is really exciting."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The thirst for knowledge has seen coaches break away from the confines of rugby and look to America." Tom Hamilton on the two-way learning process
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside