JWC 2012: Semi finals day reaction

(IRB.COM) Sunday 17 June 2012
 JWC 2012: Semi finals day reaction
Samoa stunned Fiji to secure their place at JWC 2013 in France - Photo: Image SA

We bring you all the reaction from the semi finals at the IRB Junior World Championship 2012 in South Africa.

South Africa captain Wian Liebenberg: “It feels great, it’s good to see the hard work pay off. The guys played well tonight and we practiced hard so I do believe we earned it to be in the final.
“I think everybody said we will be there (in the final after losing to Ireland) but they didn't really believe it. But we just put that behind us and concentrated on the next game and luckily everything fell in place like England beating Ireland as well and thanks to our heavenly father everything fell in place for us, the guys did well, the guys just kept on playing after that first loss.  All credit to them.
“It (the crowd) was amazing I have to say, the last game at Green Point it was also great to see all the fans showing up, I mean especially after the Ireland game we felt like we disappointed our fans and so when we came out tonight we just wanted to play for them, we just want them to see how we can play and make the country proud.
“Well obviously we have to go into the week and look at some of their games, do our  preparation, we expect a physical battle from them, it’s always going to be physical. I mean everyone loves New Zealand and South Africa playing against each other so it’s going to be a good game, I'm really looking forward to it.”

South Africa coach Dawie Theron
: “I think it’s the first time that in this Under 20 competition that we make it to the final.  Last year we were very heartbroken when we fell out against England, this year we had a memorable game against them to make it to the final. Tonight we came out, Argentina were not in the semis for nothing, they worked to be there and they played very well throughout the tournament and we had our job cut out for us. There was two conditions in the match and I thought we adapted fairly well to the wet conditions in the second half and I'm very proud of the guys.
“The atmosphere was amazing, it was amazing against England as well, and against Ireland as well.  We love to play in front of our home crowd at home, and we're a very proud rugby nation and yes, we knew that we had to get the blend right and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. In that first game I think we weren’t really being tested as a team together, guys came from Super Rugby and guys that hardly had played competition early in the year and once we got the blend right the guys responded tremendously to the support and I think that just lifted them and it was a wonderful experience.
“Well it’s going to be tough. Both Rugby nations and both of them want to get their hands on the trophy and that’s why it’s going to be a real tough occasion. It’s going to be a wonderful but tough rugby match.”

Argentina captain Sebastian Poet:
"We didn't perform well, it wasn't our game, they were physically superior. They have a good team and the luck was with them, but we wanted to turn the luck around and are very sad for the result.Today we didn't play with the same mentality we had in the previous games but it's still been a positve experience for us."

"For the next game we'll have to face a team that plays very well, Wales, it wasn't what we wanted but now we'll fight for that third place."

Argentina coach Bernardo Urdaneta: "We came in thinking we are a great team, it was a game that didn't cut it for us, especially in the first half. We had to take the initaitive, especially in the first half and we could have come out on top, the game was there to be played and we did see that in the end. But we don't have to forget that we have a very good squad and that it's not over for us, we have to keep growing."

"We are prepared to play any game, but we came here with the idea of being Champions and now we'll go for what we can win, so the spirts are still going to be high."

New Zealand co-captain Bryn Hall: "For sure, it was very, very disappointing last time we played Wales though I guess we have learnt our lesson, we executed our game plan very well today, we played with a bit of width and we played much better with our kicking. The last time we played unfortunately we didn’t use that facet of play so we played much better today.

"We always knew that Wales were going to come and fight, they are very, very passionate - just like New Zealand, very passionate on their rugby - so we knew that first 20 minutes were very important, trying to weather that storm. Those two tries just before and just after half time were very crucial for us. We talked about it a lot through the week saying that last 10 minutes and first 10 minutes after half time were very important.

"We don’t really mind (Who we face in the final), I guess South Africa would be pretty special. Whoever it is, South Africa or Argentina  we are going to have to lift the bar, if we don’t do that we won’t get that result."

New Zealand coach Rob Penney: "Really pleased, it was difficult circumstances last time we played Wales obviously and I was just really rapt that the boys had been able to grow over the last 10 days or so. I think technically they did a really good job and got the right outcome so it was great.

"Certainly that was a massive bonus for us getting those tries either side of half time, it really ripped the heart out of the Welsh. All in all a good day.
"I don’t think we are a side that is overly confident in what we are doing and that performance today I think will certainly give us a little bit of belief, which is important."

Wales captain Kirby Myhill: "We dug in till the end, I thought we played well the first 10 minutes but after that our play in the the contact area let us down and they just took us from there really.
"They played well today, we just didn't perform the way we have the whole tournament really, we let ourselves down to be honest.
"We could still end up in third place something that has never been done by a Welsh team so that's what we are striving for."

Wales coach Danny Wilson: "They are very strong and these conditions are what they are like to play in and they showed what they are capable of doing, but having said that I don't think we performed anywhere near the accuracy that we have in this tournament, that might have a lot to do with NZ and the pressure they put on us, especially at the breakdown. We looked a little bit afraid to play in the first half and perhaps kicked away too much ball. We tried to play a bit more in the second half but the accuracy just was not there.

"I just asked the boys just now and the answer was exactly what I wanted and that was to end third in the tournament, third in the world will be a hell of an achievement and a lot to play for and one that we are motivated for. We need to recover us, choose our strongest team and go in and whoever we play in that playoff give it our best."

France captain Karl Chateau:
"We are very happy, after the win on Tuesday we wanted to play the same game and do even better if possible. It has been a lot harder, the game was a lot tighter and closer. It was tougher to score tries, and to counter the motivation of the Australians who wanted to make a come back.
"It was fantastic (to play at Newlands), we came here with the dream of playing here but we weren't able to and today it came true, and beating Australia made us even happier.
"Culturally we would prefer to meet the English because they're historically our rivals. We also have a revange to take on the Irish who beat us before the tournament but I hope the best will win and that the next game will be a good one!"

Australia captain Liam Gill: "Never at one stage was any team certain to win - I think it's something we can take in our stride but the scoreboard still reflects a French win and I think that's what really hurts us, we were in that game and arguably could have won it if we kept our composure and kept the footy back in their half, that's a big, big loss to swallow.
"Discipline hurt us, it's just frustrating, that's what is really going to hurt knowing that we were in that game, we could have won it but they took it away from us."

France coach Didier Retiere: "We're very happy, it was a tough game and it's not so usual to beat Australia twice. I think the first time the Australians were a bit surprised by the game we produced, this time they knew what to expect and prepared accordingly which made it a really tight game. The players were very, very motivated to go and look for this win, which didn't come easy!

"We're heading home a bit, playing a Six Nations game in the World Championship (against England or Ireland). We know the two teams and they are both strong teams, we are looking at a very hard game whichever way. Even if we're playing for fifth place it shows how hard the games will be!"

Australia coach David Nucifora:
"It just didn't seem to go our way and we had the game, we should have been good enough to close it down, we made too many errors at the end and they capitalised.
"It was a far better showing than five days ago which it needed to be but we did enough things to win that game but we just many too many errors at crucial times which was really disappointing.
"It's always hard to say (what the reason is why Australia haven't got results in the tournament), I think probably a lot of individual errors at crucial times, unable to keep pressure on teams and build continuity and that will happen to young players, you need that ability to be tough at top and to be able to focus and concentrate and maintain pressure on good teams to beat them."

Ireland captain Niall Scannell: "It was excellent, we've lost to this team twice, it's the only team we've lost to all year. We just thought we needed to do ourselves justice and close this one off on the third time and we did it thankfully, credit to all the lads, they were absolutely outstanding tonight."

"It was absoultely outstanding, relentless pressure for 80 minutes and just credit to all the lads, they put their bodies on the line."

England coach Rob Hunter:
"It is disappointing, they're a strong side, we swept past them last time and when we beat them in Six Nations it was tough. That's what you get from an Ireland side, they go for 80 all the time and with most teams in this competition if you don't get yourself right mentally then you are going to be beaten. We certainly didn't get it today, certainly not in the first half."

"Nobody wants to lose, and I'm sure the Aussies won't want to lose. It's been a tough tournament for both teams, very disappointing in terms of the expectations coming in but we've got one more game and it's our job to get back on the pitch and put things right for Friday."

Ireland coach Mike Ruddock: "You might hear in the background some of the delight from the players who are still singing in the changing room. We’ve lost twice against England this year. England is a fine side, and have got quality players and have lots of resources.

"The message at half time was that we were there before and that we took our foot off the gas. We wanted to unsettle them and stop them from getting into their rhythm. We kept tackling and pressurising and from the pressure we managed to pick off a pass which allowed our winger to score, and that gave the boys a lot of confidence to get the job done. 

"We managed to hang in there, I thought we played some great rugby at times. I thought we defended strongly and as you said this is a strong England side."

Samoa captain Ropeti Lafo: "I’m taking my hat off to my team and my boys to beat the island boys. Of course, it was a tough game today. You know Fiji have flair in their play, they like hands on the ball. We stuck to the game plan and then went wide with the ball. Our set pieces today were much better. We secured our participation for next year in the Junior World Championship. We are very happy."

Samoa coach John Schuster: "I am extremely relieved in every sense of the word. It’s been tough going for us, three tough games in the pool and then you know trying to salvage something to guarantee a spot. All the credit to the boys, they picked themselves up, they give it their best, they fought for that guaranteed position for us. I give them all the credit.

"We knew that if we could match them in the set pieces and the scrums and the lineouts and just win us some quality ball, of which is something we’ve been starved off in the previous games, we would get the upper hand in defence and make our tackles. We thought if we could do that, then we’re in with a good chance."

Fiji captain Matayavusa Lea:
"We bounced back today, but it was disappointing. We have to try our best in the last elimination game next Friday."

Fiji coach Sale Sorovaki: "We are disappointed, but we still have another shot to try and stay in this competition on Friday. Congratulations to Samoa for playing well and coming back at us in the second game. I think we did not underestimate Samoa. We really tried hard and it was not our day. We want to finish off on a win and today was one of those, chances where we had an opportunity and we did not use it. We look forward to the next game on Friday."

Scotland captain Harry Leonard: "It means a lot to the boys, we worked very hard for the tournament, we played good rugby today. To get the result we did today means a lot to everyone.I think we really just focused on ourselves. I think before we got caught up in the opposition, (this time) we just really focused on ourselves.

"We tried to played with force. The boys played very well upfront and the forwards really won us the game. Fantastic performance, played really good rugby. Still another game to come, Fiji or Samoa. They both play similar styles of rugby. We’ll be ready but we’ll come back fighting."

Italy captain Giovanni Maistri: "We lost against Scotland, but both teams played good rugby, we were both at the same level. We made a lot of errors, and we hope to be better for the next match. Our set pieces and our scrums were good today. In our scrums we had some problems with early engagement, but we improved as the game went on."