2019 Rugby World Cup

Gold: Pressure Is On England

Gold: Pressure Is On England

Gary Gold accepts, and almost relishes, underdog status.

Sep 25, 2019 by Alex Goff
Behind The Scenes Of Eagles Win Over Scotland

Well the job gets serious now, doesn't it.

With World Rugby having shrugged off the USA's defeat of Scotland in 2018, the Eagles, and especially their head coach, look at what legacy-building results they can produce in the Rugby World Cup ... against the might of England.

Head coach Gary Gold

"The team is in a very good position at the moment," the coach told reporters. "It’s been a long buildup for us. We’re very excited to start against a very strong England team. It’s going to be a great occasion."

Gold said that before the Scotland game, too, and you got the feeling that he had something up his sleeve. Most of what he has concealed up that arm covering is confidence. Famously he said to the Eagles after that 30-29 win: "Now do you believe me?" 

So Gold seems calm and that calmness is infectious.

"There is certainly an underdog status," acknowledge Gold. "Underdog status is when there’s a team not as experienced on the international stage as what England are. When there’s a team that has never qualified for a Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against a team that has won a RWC final, and when there’s a team that doesn’t get exposed to the international game at the highest level at all.

"Then I think we do come into this game as quite severe underdogs against a very well equipped England team. What it does, from our point of view, is that it allows us an opportunity to show that we have improved and that we hopefully can go toe-to-toe, even in the form of large periods of the game against a team like England. The more opportunities that we get to play teams of the level of England and last November like Ireland, it gives us more opportunity to improve."

Gold was asked about whether Japan's defeat of South Africa four years ago, and Tonga's upset of France in the same tournament, is inspiration to Tier 2 nations. 

The Eagles coach said those little indications that the Tier 2 nations are catching up are good, but he also pointed out that a team like the USA doesn't have anything to lose.

"Expectation is quite low; nobody will give us a chance," he said. "Conversely, that puts pressure on a team like England. The reality is that we’ve all been there, no matter at what level you have or haven’t played at or coached. You know when you’re playing a team that on paper is supposed to be weaker than you.

"The England players – that’ll be going through their mind, maybe not for very long, but it’ll be going through their mind—what if, what if, what if?  The pressure’s really on them not us."