Six World Cups and only one victor from the northern hemisphere – England’s nail-biting defeat of Australia in 2003 bringing ‘Bill’ to Europe for the first, and to date only, time since the inaugural tournament in 1987.
Most pundits have predicted that the 2011 title will be going to one of either New Zealand, Australia or South Africa, with few people giving a Six Nations side much of a chance of repeating England’s success in Sydney eight years ago. England, as they did in the 1991, 1995 and 2003 World Cups, arrive at the tournament as reigning Six Nations champions, but with a young side still on a steep learning curve. As for Scotland and Wales, neither country enjoyed a particularly successful Six Nations and both will want to improve on their displays at the 2007 World Cup in France.
Rugby World sat down with three of the stars from England, Wales and Scotland – Lewis Moody, Lee Byrne and Sean Lamont – shortly before they flew out to New Zealand to discuss all things World Cup, from pressure to performance to porridge! Here’s what the home nations trio had to say…
Rugby World: Will it help England that they don’t go into the World Cup as one of the favourites?
Lewis Moody: It’s irrelevant really. We’re in a good position right now. We played some good rugby in the Six Nations but we know we’re not the finished article, as the manner of our defeat to Ireland (24-8) showed. We’ve moved away from playing stick-it-up-your-jumper rugby to a more expansive game. Perhaps sometimes we’ve tried to be too expansive, so we need to find the right balance between the two styles. But we’re happy with where we are as a squad and we’re going to New Zealand with confidence.
RW: Who don’t you want to share a room with at the World Cup and why?
Sean Lamont: Anybody who snores, and Allan Jacobsen snores louder than most. I’m a really light sleeper so I can’t be doing with being woken up by someone snoring. Obviously I haven’t got any bad habits myself!
Lewis Moody: Fortunately we usually get a room of our own the night before matches. But we share at other times. It’s never pleasant rooming with Steve Thompson because he has a habit of wandering around the room without any clothes on.
Lee Byrne: I shared a room with Leigh Halfpenny during the first training camp in Poland (in early July) and he started having a conversation with himself in the middle of the night. Scary!
RW: Will you be tweeting or doing other forms of social networking at the World Cup?
Sean Lamont: No, I won’t be tweeting. We had talks during our training camps warning us about the perils of Facebook and Twitter. We know that the media scrutiny will be intense at the World Cup so we’ve all got to be careful.
Lewis Moody: I used to use Twitter a lot but recently I’ve cut down. We haven’t had any media training in terms of telling us what to do in New Zealand. I think the thing with all this stuff is that we’re fully grown men and we’re sensible enough to know what we should and shouldn’t say in texts or Twitter. But as Sean said, I think this will probably be the most media intensive of any World Cup so all players need to be aware of what they say and do.
Lee Byrne: Wales have had a few problems lately in this department, myself included, so I’m not pointing any fingers. Facebook and Twitter were banned during our training camps with fines for anyone who uploaded anything. I think it’s a good thing because we don’t want anything to distract us from the rugby.
RW: New Zealand haven’t won the World Cup for 24 years. Will the pressure on their shoulders be a factor?
Lewis Moody: New Zealand have been the form team for the last couple of years and this current side is one of the best they’ve had in a long time. They’re tough competitors and obviously they’ll be aware of the pressure thing but I’m sure they can handle it. I think there is pressure on all the sides in the World Cup, not just the All Blacks, and it’s a factor for everyone.
This article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.
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