Rugby World Cup 2011

Gold: Tough watching on TV

2011-10-21 13:44
Gary Gold

Cape Town - In an ideal world, Springbok forwards coach Gary Gold would be in New Zealand preparing for the World Cup final; instead, he’s back in South Africa watching from afar, which he concedes has been a challenging experience.

“If truth be told, it is incredibly tough,” Gold told Laureus and Sport24. “We all worked so very hard to go all the way, and the players were so well disciplined and focused to be successful, but it wasn’t to be, and we all need to accept that. Watching the semis back home has certainly been a challenge, especially as we were all so optimistic to be there ourselves.”

No South Africa in semifinals came as a surprise for Springbok supporters; equally unexpected as far as Gold is concerned is the success of France.

“Yes it is a huge surprise,” Gold admitted. “Whilst we were in New Zealand it was widely reported that the French team were in disarray and obviously that was evident in their pool performances, especially in the loss to Tonga. But to their credit, they won the games that mattered, and against England produced a fantastic first half performance. It was surreal that they could lose two games in their pool and still progress, but that is the format of the competition and we all knew that before hand.”

For most people, though, this is as far as France will go, with New Zealand heavy favourites on Sunday; does Gold believe the French have a chance in the final? “It must be said, very slim!” Gold said.

“France are a group of very good rugby players, but they so seldom gel as a team, and when they do, it is very seldom it is for a full 80 minutes. The fear for New Zealand has to be that they do actually pitch up on the big day and cause New Zealand a few headaches they would rather not anticipate, but I would say it is quite unlikely. Interestingly, the style of play France chose on the night could be significant: if they chose to play the ‘Toulouse’ brand, and all buy into it, then funnier things have happened, but this New Zealand team is world class and very well coached, and they would be prepared for anything the French choose to throw at them.”

The Springbok forward coach does appreciate the talent France have, though. “As with all world class teams, the guys who represent the ‘spine' of the team are crucial – hooker Servat, lock Naille, Harinordoquy at eight, scrumhalf Yachvili, flyhalf Parra, centre Mermoz and fullback Medard. And the leadership of Dusautoir is essential. These guys also represent their senior players, so they will have a huge role to play in their respective areas of responsibility if France have any chance of upsetting the All Blacks.”

The chance of an upset is minimal, though, not just because New Zealand are playing at home, but also because of the sheer strength of this All Black team.
“They are the real deal,” conceded Gold. “They are very good – to be playing with what is really their third choice flyhalf and to still be as lethal as they are is an indication as to how good they are. They are a settled team and their coaching staff have been around for eight years now, so they all know each other so well, added to the fact that they are a group of men who are possibly on a greater mission. New Zealand, as a small country, has had a terrible year on global proportions, and the Canterbury earthquake hurt the country immeasurably. I know from our chats with the All Black coaches that their group of players realise the weight of responsibility on their shoulders to bring some hope and joy back to the New Zealand people, so I am quite sure this will all add to them going all the way.”

A home win would be a fairytale finish to a tournament that Gold believes has been a great success. “We certainly were not there to soak up the atmosphere, but it seemed to be a very well run competition, and obviously being held in a country that is so rugby mad, made the event that little bit more special.”

Gold, who also works with the RugbyIQ coaching program, also feels that rugby as a global game has moved forward in this World Cup, with Wales the biggest winners. “I think one or two of the top teams in the northern hemisphere have certainly improved. Wales are obviously the stand out team from the northern hemisphere, and I believe if they keep the coaching staff together, which is apparently is the case, then I would say Wales could well be a significant force at the next World Cup.”

A semifinal finish was a fine result for a young Welsh side; for the hosts, nothing less than winning the tournament will do, and Gold firmly believes that that is exactly what will happen this weekend. “One would have to be either very brave or very stupid to bet against the All Blacks, but rugby is the most incredible sport for the very reason that almost any team can beat the other on any given day, and I am sure out of all the opponents the All Blacks could have chosen, France would certainly not have been on top of that list,” Gold concluded. “But be that as it may, I am sure the occasion is too important for the lovely land of the long white cloud, and I am sure that come Monday morning the sun will be shining brightly on the new world champions, New Zealand!”

• For regular rugby updates from Laureus Academy Members including Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Lynagh, Morne du Plessis and Hugo Porta, visit



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