Gatland says Wales broke no rules

Date published: September 24 2015

Wales boss Warren Gatland has rejected claims that the team broke Rugby World Cup rules by letting external players train with the squad.

World Rugby gave Wales an official warning on Thursday after reports circulated that six players from outside the group of 31 had been working with the national side.

“We haven’t broken any rules," he stated.

"According to the statement from World Rugby we’ve broken the spirit of the rules – what that means I don’t know.

"I don’t know what we’ve done wrong. You’ve either got rules or you haven’t got rules. What’s the spirit of the rules?”

Focusing on Wales' crunch match with England on Saturday, Gatland took time to praise Stuart Lancaster's squad.

“We’re just really excited about Saturday. They’re a quality team, there’s a huge amount of strength and depth," Gatland said.

“We were expecting that they were going to go for the same team (as for the opening match against Fiji) so it threw us for a couple of days. At the moment we wouldn’t mind the same dilemma of having that quality of choice because they’ve got some world-class players.

“For us as a nation this is the biggest game for a long long time. As a team we have a huge amount of respect for England.”

One of Gatland's toughest selection choices was to omit Justin Tipuric from the starting line-up despite his good form.

At the same time, the return of Alun Wyn Jones in the second row comes just at the right time.

“I just said [to Tipuric] it was a tough decision and you should just keep doing what you’re doing and putting us under pressure," Gatland explained.

“[Jones] has been huge for us, he’s just matured, become a dad in the last 12 months or so, he’s an important cog for us – he certainly has that self-belief.”