A selection of the best quotes from players, coaches and referees at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan on Monday.
‘The onsens [hot springs] are obviously helping him. He looks a lot more relaxed. He’s a different player to what he was even when we started camp. Every week, every day, he’s just trying to get better. – England assistant coach Neal Hatley says he is impressed by prop Kyle Sickler’s progress in Japan.
‘The things that happen in this tournament don’t happen in other sports. You’ve got the Canadian blokes cleaning up the ground [after typhoon Hagibis]. Could you imagine Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi doing that if Barcelona or Real Madrid gets a wash? It’s a different game.’ – England coach Eddie Jones believes rugby is unique and more special than any other sports code.
‘Is that supposed to be humorous?’ – All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick snapped when he was reminded that he had referred to Courtney Lawes as Michael Lawes before a game between England and New Zealand in 2014.
‘It feels like the country [Japan] is getting behind the game of rugby, with people wearing their jerseys out on the street. That’s what we’re all here to do: inspire people to take up and participate in the game. Job well done to them.’ – Retallick reveals he was pleasantly surprised by the Japanese people’s interest in the World Cup and rugby in general.
‘They have shown the world they are truly a top-tier, competitive nation. The brand of rugby they are playing is exciting and they should be really proud. It did blow my mind that on the walk to dinner the majority of restaurants and bars had the game on.’ – All Blacks flank Sam Cane on the host nation’s contribution to Rugby World Cup 2019.
‘They are definitely a team with a lot of X factor.’ – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says he is wary of Wales’ attacking weapons.
‘We do have the pack and backline players to go all the way, but in a game which is 80 minutes, if you have four minutes where you drop your standards, you will get caught out.’ – Erasmus believes even the slightest lapse in concentration and awareness in a knockout game can be the difference between success and failure at the World Cup.
‘Everyone’s a fan now. It’s such a great sport. The way the players hit each other hard but then show sportsmanship at the end. And the same goes for the visiting supporters – they have been so friendly. It has been an honour to watch rugby with them.’ – New rugby fan Susumu Shiratori, from Shizuoka, as told to the Guardian in Britain, with his sentiments backed up by the tweet video below.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 20, 2019
Photo: David Ramos – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images