Gatland slams draw after England exit

Date published: October 5 2015

Wales boss Warren Gatland criticised the pools draw for the 2015 Rugby World Cup after Pool A rivals England were knocked out by Australia.

Back-to-back defeats meant that England became the first host nation to miss out on the quarter-finals after they were joined by Wales and Australia in the toughest group ever in World Cup history.

“Everyone is talking about England as the first host country to miss out on the quarter-finals but the stupid thing is why was the World Cup draw done three years ago?" Gatland said on Sunday. 

"It’s ridiculous. If they had followed the football model then we wouldn’t be in this position.

"There are other people outside of this who need to have a look at themselves and why those decisions were made. You’ve got to feel sorry for the people involved and those that it has affected."

Gatland added that he had huge respect for his England counterpart Stuart Lancaster, who may be sacked after England's disastrous campaign.

"I have a huge amount of respect for what he has done since he took over in terms of the discipline and the way the players conduct themselves," Gatland revealed.

"As a coach you learn from adversity and if he gets an opportunity to continue he will learn from this and it’s a massive moment for him as a coach."

England's suffering, however, means Wales are through to the last eight before even facing the Wallabies next week in Twickenham, with Gatland admitting he was relieved.

"We always planned to make the quarter-finals. We knew how tough this group was going to be, not with just England, Australia and ourselves, but Fiji, too. I think if Fiji had been in other groups they would have qualified for the quarter-finals as well," he added.

"It’s not just the group of death, it’s the group of hell. So to have qualified now gives us the opportunity to take the shackles off a bit and to start focusing on winning the group.

"We are delighted to be through and Australia have done us a massive favour. I felt with 15 minutes to go it was like sitting in the box myself. I said to my wife that whatever happens in the next 20 minutes changes people’s lives.

"It’s great that we have qualified but you’ve got to feel for other teams involved. There is a huge amount at stake, with families and livelihoods, so I am just trying to keep things in perspective."