A selection of the best quotes from players, coaches and leaders at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan on Friday.
‘The waiting is over. The stage is set. It is now over to the teams, the fans, and the people of Japan to make this the best Rugby World Cup ever!’ – World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont lays down a challenge to the host nation after the opening ceremony at Tokyo Stadium.
‘To go from what was a high school rugby paddock to the Olympic training centre in Colorado Springs is indicative of the level of professionalism that’s come to the game. [USA Rugby] is no longer a sleeping giant, it’s woken up and it’s happening – I think it’s just going through breakfast at the moment.’ – USA hooker James Hilterbrand on how his team’s professional attitude has evolved since 2015.
‘At the moment, we are at the top of the rollercoaster and everyone is excited, and you get down to the bottom and you are not quite sure if you are going to throw up or hang on. The players have equipped themselves to ride the rollercoaster because there are going to be some turns, some accidents and some fun.’ – England coach Eddie Jones warns his squad about the challenges of a Rugby World Cup campaign.
‘I was very young when he played and never got to see him play. But for us, it was an era that opened up doors for us. Chester is really inspirational to all of us as a team. We look up to the team of 1995 because we feel like they changed things for us in South Africa. We will always respect them. – South Africa’s captain Siya Kolisi on the legacy of the Springbok World Cup winners of 1995 and their winger Chester Williams, who died on 6 September.
‘I think Dave is wanting a bit of a name change from the Pooper – he’s been talking to me about calling it the ‘Hocock’ now. I am not sure how much traction that is going to get.’ – Wallabies captain Michael Hooper reveals his back row partner David Pocock wants to rebrand the name of their partnership.
‘Well he should be playing for us then.’ – Tonga coach Toutai Kefu responds to England No 8 Billy Vunipola’s admission that he still identifies as a Tongan.
‘Mako and Billy are very different now and are quite English! At least you get a perspective of the size and shape of Tongans, I suppose.’ – England lock Courtney Lawes on teammates Billy and Mako Vunipola, who is of Tongan heritage.
‘I got the name from my uncle who was called Belgium, but in Samoan. I’ve never been there (to Belgium) but I live close to it in France so maybe I should go there after the World Cup.’ – Samoa winger and former amateur boxer Belgium Tuatagaloa reveals the origin of his unique first name.
‘I do miss some Georgian food. When we have been in France for a few months, the Georgian players in Brive like to get together and I cook khachapuri for them, which is like Georgian pizza. In Georgia, we make the bread ourselves but, in France, I just buy some pizza bread and add in the mozzarella and feta and other ingredients.’ – Georgia scrumhalf Vasil Lobzhanidze on the recipe for success as one of six – soon to be eight – Georgian players at French Top 14 club Brive.
‘I like to make the Ukrainian soup, borsch. That is my speciality, I make it well, as well as a good steak. Sometimes I make it for all the Georgian boys in Brive.’ – Flank Otar Giorgadze, Lobzhanidze’s club and country teammate, talks up his own contribution to the Brive banquet.
‘I was leaving school and hurried home to watch. It was beautiful. They represented us very well and I immediately felt the urge to go train and kick a ball. It was thanks to them and how they managed to connect so well with people at the time that rugby was put under the spotlight in Argentina. They had a massive impact.’ – Argentina fullback Emiliano Boffelli on watching the Los Pumas team of 2007 and hoping repeating their heroics.