RWC7s men's pool draw: Team reaction

(IRB.COM) Friday 1 March 2013  
 RWC7s men's pool draw: Team reaction
Gordon Tietjens has won 10 World Series titles and four Commonwealth golds with New Zealand but only one RWC Sevens, in 2001

Reaction from across the teams to the pool draw for the 24-team men's competition at the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow.

Group A: Australia, France, Spain and Tunisia

Australia coach, Michael O'Connor: “I’m excited for the tournament. Everything is on the line during a World Cup. Anything can happen in Sevens so we’ve just got to prepare ourselves and get better. We’ve got to worry more about our own game at the moment.”

Australia captain, Ed Jenkins: “There’s been a massive improvement in teams since the last World Cup. No team has an easy pool in Sevens, any team can beat you on any given day. You’ve always got to play at your best in Sevens. To win the World Cup, you’ve got to play your best and beat every side you’re up against, so the draw doesn’t change your preparation.”

France coach, Frederic Pomarel: "It's a pool where we're going to have to go out and play the matches, and win them! I've said it and I'll say it again, nothing is easy because there are no small nations in Sevens. Everyone needs to be respected, but if we play to our values and potential we can do well."

France's Manoel Dall Igna: "There's no reason for us not to be satisfied with our pool draw, all three of the teams we face are, currently, at the bottom end of the band they were drawn from. Australia are the lowest-ranked of the sides in the top band, Spain the lowest in the third band and Tunisia one of the teams in the bottom band who haven't played much on the Series lately. We'll still have to go out there and play the games and the form won't necessarily hold true, but for the moment we can be pleased with our draw.

Spain coach, José Ignacio 'Tiki' Inchausti: "After seeing the draw, the World Cup is very open. There's no clear favourite and anything could happen. We know Australia from the World Series and have beaten them. We've faced France in the FIRA tournaments for years but still haven't played them on the Series this season. It looks a good group, although we know that qualifying from it will not be easy."

Group B: South Africa, Scotland, Russia and Japan

South Africa coach Paul Treu: “It is never easy to play the hosts and Russia will be very tough to beat in front of their home fans. We’ve seen them cause many upsets the past few seasons and they must rank as one of the strongest non-core World Series teams. There is so much to play for in Sevens rugby nowadays. The HSBC Sevens World Series is now much more competitive, teams are playing to secure core status while everyone is gearing up for the Olympics in 2016. The Rugby World Cup Sevens is a one-off tournament, it happens only once every four years and the fact that it will now be played at the end of the season means all the teams will be very strong. For us though, a huge motivating factor will be the fact that we’ve never done well at previous RWC tournaments. Our approach will be very different this time around. SARU and our management team have done a lot of planning for this tournament and our aim is to win."

Scotland captain, Colin Gregor, top point-scorer at the last Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai: “This is a good group, Russia and Japan are not core teams but are two teams who by the end of this season will hope to be on the circuit full-time. Russia are paying a lot of attention to the game of Sevens with the Olympics in Rio, so they will be a very tough and physical team, South Africa will also be very physical. However, if we play with confidence against these teams we can challenge them and cause them problems. Our aim at the moment is to keep claiming ranking points in the HSBC Sevens World Series and secure our place there next year, but a World Cup is always a special experience and we’re hoping we can come away with something.”

Group C: Samoa, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Philippines

Kenya coach, Mike Friday: "It is an interesting draw and it is a tough group but there are far harder groups with more core teams in other individual groups. People need to realize that you only gain automatic to the quarter-finals if you win the group so, in that regard, with Samoa in the group, it is very tough. They have been outstanding this season and very consistent. They fully warrant their current world standing of three, having also won a title this season. We are looking forward to the challenge and will need to be ruthless in every game where points scored become very important to be one of the best runners-up, should we not win the group. We are more than capable of winning this group but it will require us to play to the best of our ability in every game and as a Kenya Sevens family. We will need to show the spirit and togetherness that we cannot be distracted or split in preparation of that challenge."

Philippines coach, Al Caravelli: "We're not going to make up the numbers, anything can happen in a Sevens tournament. I use the example of Wales, who lost a pool game four years ago, went into the Cup quarters ranked eighth and won it. You've just got to play to your fundamentals and hopefully we'll prepare them to the best of my ability as a coach. We plan to assemble in June, prepare for an entire month, get some good rounds in with Australia and then head to a pre-tournament in Thailand before we leave for Russia."

Group D: New Zealand, USA, Canada and Georgia

New Zealand coach, Gordon Tietjens: “Sevens is getting more competitive each year so we take nothing for granted. We have seen the United States and Canada do pretty well at times in the IRB HSBC Sevens World Series so we know what they are capable of. Unlike the World Series, you only get one chance every four years to win the World Cup so it will be a high pressure event with no room for poor performance. We haven’t won the World Cup since 2001 so we are really determined to do well. The tournament is also important for us in terms of building for the Rio Olympics in 2016 so there will be no shortage of incentives to play well. We’re also really looking forward to Moscow where the team has never played.”

Group E: Fiji, *Wales, Tonga and Uruguay

Wales captain, Rhys Shellard: "The draw could have been a lot worse for us and all the pools look quite even, so I’m quite happy with our draw. We’ve beaten Fiji twice this year in the World Series and played well against them both times, so that should give us some confidence but Tonga will be no mugs either. They were three tries up against us in the New Zealand tournament before we came away with a win, while Uruguay are a top side as well. It is nice to go to this year’s tournament as defending champions but we now obviously have a different squad to the one that did so well last time in Dubai. We’ve only got two boys (Lee Williams and Richie Pugh) left from that squad but the boys just relishing the opportunity ahead. But before the World Cup, we’ve still got four tournaments in the World Series and that is our bread and butter. There is relegation and promotion involved and we must ensure we get as many points as we can to hit our targets.”

Group F: England, Argentina, Portugal and Hong Kong

England coach Ben Ryan: “The draw looks pretty balanced for all the pools and it is exciting to know who our opponents are going to be now. We know all our Pool opponents well and it will certainly add a little spice when we play Portugal at the Hong Sevens next month.”

Hong Kong coach, Dai Rees: "We always knew we would face two top core teams in our pool and England and Argentina fall into that category. Our target is to finish as the top Asian team at the World Cup and thus help qualify our under-18 team for next year's Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing. England has had an indifferent campaign in the World Series this season but this being a one-off tournament, I'm sure they will be focused. It is the same with Argentina."