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Premiership Rugby

Looking forward to Wales

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

AT: Firstly, did you get a winner on the Melbourne Cup?

CW: (laughter) No I didn’t, I lived over here for five years so I knew what was going to happen, all I can say is that it was a big enough party in Brisbane and I am just glad that we were here and not down in Melbourne where the South Africans are. It is a huge day over here, and a very special day in Australia generally.

AT: It is Wales on Sunday, we are used to playing Wales but will it be very different playing them up here in Brisbane?

CW: I think that the answer is yes because it is a totally different tournament. I think that in the sanctuary of the Six Nations we are very comfortable playing them in Cardiff and Twickenham and this is just a complete one off and you can’t over state that. This is a totally different game especially with Wales coming off the back of a good performance against the All Blacks even thought they lost.

It is a very special game and both teams know that if they get it wrong you are flying home on Monday, which adds to the whole occasion. There is a lot of history between England and Wales but I would like to think that this England team has moved way beyond that era. We have set our stall out over the last three or four years to really target the New Zealanders, Australians and South Africans and we have got past that psychological hurdle of playing those guys.

Wales is a great fixture but it is bracketed alongside New Zealand, Samoa, Italy, it is just the next game, we have got to get our preparations absolutely right. We just go game by game and I think that there is a genuine excitement in the camp, I felt earlier on before the South African game that the team was a bit anxious rather than excited. We are at our best when we are nervous and excited and I think that this weekend that is the attitude that we have got back into the team. The guys who played on Sunday night against Uruguay did a great job in moving the whole thing forward.

AT: All the major sides have had a bad game, including England although Samoa did have a great game but it was tough for England, do you think that has helped the tournament that everyone of them has had a bad game and it does prove that it can happen?

CW: I don’t think that bad is the right word, everyone has been in a tight game and I think that it is fantastic for the tournament. I remember seeing John Mitchell’s face during the New Zealand game and seeing Eddie Jones’s face when Ireland where giving Australia a good pounding and I know the feeling when we were losing with 20 minutes to go against Samoa.

You just know what is going on in the coach's mind. But the bottom line is that if we are brutally honest, there have been close games and there have been brilliant games but the favourites have kind of scraped through and that includes England. That is what it is always going to be like, you read the media who say this side is going to win and then when it becomes close they say that it has been a bad game, but I think that those games are fantastic.

The Wales vs New Zealand game was an outstanding game of rugby, the Ireland vs Australia game was fantastic, I will let you say what you like about the England vs Samoa game but looking in as a neutral it was an outstanding spectacle but from a coaching point of view we were obviously disappointed with the game. But as I said we have just got to get excited about this game.

AT: Two northern hemisphere sides and a northern hemisphere referee?

CW: Alain Rolland is refereeing and we are obviously pleased about that, all the other officials are Northern hemisphere, David McHugh and Joel Jutge on the touchlines which actually doesn’t make any difference but you know them well and we have had Alain Rolland quite a few times.

What we are trying to do going into this game is give away less penalties, we have got to get down to single figures, we are working, very, very hard at it but I think that the referees have been spot on so far, we have just been a little bit slack in the way that we have been playing.

ENDS

England Points for Nick Duncombe Memorial Fund Update The Nick Duncombe Memorial Fund, set up in memory of the NEC Harlequins and England Scrum Half who tragically passed away last February 2003 at the age of 21 years, will receive a donation of £2,550 from Zurich based around England’s scoresheets from the pool stages in Australia this autumn.

For every point scored by Clive Woodward’s men during the tournament, Zurich, sponsor of the England Team in Australia 2003, have pledged to donate £10 to the fund which was set up to finance future youth development projects and for a statue/physical memorial in Nick’s memory at The Stoop, the home ground of NEC Harlequins.  

England scored a total of 255 points against their pool stage opponents Georgia (won 84-6), South Africa (won 25-6), Samoa (won 35-22) and Uruguay (won 111-13).

England Head Coach Clive Woodward commented “My thoughts are often with Nick, he was a great player, and I hope that he is looking down and enjoying what we are doing at the moment”

Echoing Clive’s thoughts, England and NEC Harlequins Centre Will Greenwood added "It's a fantastic gesture. Zurich have always been superb supporters of English Rugby both in the Premiership and England. The Nick Duncombe Fund is a superbly worthwhile fund, it's something that's very close to our hearts at Quins and something we're extremely grateful for. 

I'd be delighted if England could win 101 – 100 then if that's the case and keep racking those scores up, but I'm sure Nick would feel the same about this Sunday –  that an English victory by one point is all that matters whatever the score is, however low scoring the game is I'm sure Nick wouldn't mind too much, and I can only say thankyou on behalf of Harlequins and Nick Duncombe's family for such a kind gesture and it's very much appreciated."

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