JWC 2012: Final day reaction

(IRB.COM) Friday 22 June 2012
 JWC 2012: Final day reaction
Wales recorded their best ever placement at JWC by beating Argentina in the third place play-off at Newlands - Photo: Image SA

We bring you all the reaction from the final day of the IRB Junior World Championship 2012 as hosts South Africa win the title for the first time and Italy are relegated to the Junior World Rugby Trophy after losing to Fiji.

IRB Junior Player of the Year Jan Serfontein: "It's a really awesome feeling, it hasn’t struck me yet, I think tomorrow the reality will come. This was really a team effort, anyone of us could have got this prize so it was hard work and team spirit that pulled us through."
"We stuck to our game plan and stayed calm in pressure situations, we used our opportunities well. It makes it even more special the fact it was here at Newlands. I think the crowd helped us a lot, and the fact it was in South Africa so I have to say thanks to South Africa and all our supporters."

South Africa coach Dawie Theron:
"It's unbelievable, this is the best rugby experience of my life and I played for the Springboks for 13 Tests and I must say that was very, very special, but this moment, words can't describe it."

"You can see what it meant to the guys, especially after the first loss against Ireland, and they carried the whole weight of the nation on their shoulders. Under pressure two things can happen, you can either scatter apart or you can gel together and become like a rock.

"Seriously, without a doubt, I had always the belief (tonight), I knew that we just needed to stick to a simple plan, we took them on up front, we kept with out mauling and it went our way.

"In the first half there were big hits just coming from their side but in the second half our guys came out and they stood up to the physical contest and I think it was just tremendous how the guys responded. If this team can stay together then this is a special era.

"Jan Serfontein is a diamond, when you need him he's there, he's just unbelievable. We must spare a thought for Pollard, in the first half he was a bit out of sorts but then after that drop goal he seemed to have settled the nerves and he just started working and then he came through tremendously. And then the pack of forwards tonight, every single one them played an unbelievable game."

"Up to now (this tournament), definitely the best time of my life"

South Africa captain Wian Liebenberg: "Well it was definitely a dream come true, it was awesome and it was great to see the hard work we put in finally come off for us. It was a tough match, I think we worked hard during our preparation for the game. We said we wanted to take them on in their set pieces and mauls and I think that’s what we did tonight, we took them on in the core phase of rugby."

"We wanted to play in their half and put the pressure on them, New Zealand really played well, they gave it everything and really made it a tough contest for us. But I think at the end of the day we wanted to put the pressure on them, play in their half and that’s how the two tries came.

"I think when we came in for half time and the score was 10-9, I think we just needed to sort a few things out. But I always believed in the ability that  we do have and it could pull us through, so we just needed to pull together as a team and that’s what helped us win."

"It’s a great privilege being part of this jersey, I mean there are so many that have worn this jersey before me and it’s just great to be part of that legacy in South African rugby. It’s all tournaments, we said in the team that we wanted to be able to tell a story and make history and I think that’s what we did tonight for our country."

"I definitely (hope this will encourage South African children to play rugby), the way we played and the way the crowd got behind us really inspired the whole country and I hope everybody could see the game and what rugby is about and how we play rugby in South Africa, and that we are a proud rugby nation and we are always going to want to win trophies."

South Africa injured centre William Small-Smith: "It's awesome, I mean we came into the tournament only dreaming of this and now it's become a reality so it's an awesome feeling. I can't describe it, I think if I could trade anything with this I would. But the guys went out there and they did it, it's a team sport so the team won so actually I won as well!

"I think we grew as a team and we learned from our mistakes, I think we are a better team now than when we started and we grew each game so I think the boys did really well."

South Africa scrum half Vian van der Watt: "The feeling is amazing, I've never felt like this before, there's no way to describe it.

"It's always been a dream of mine (to lift the trophy), and who knows maybe one day I'll lift the big trophy for the big World Cup. It's been a wonderful pleasure playing with these boys and what a privilege playing with guys like Steven Kitshoff, Pieter Steph du Toit who played Super Rugby, it's amazing!"

"Definitely, the best moment is the try I scored there in the corner!"

South Africa fly half Handre Pollard: "There's not a lot of words that can describe this, after we lost the first game, the way the group came together and we just thought it's still possible, it's all possible and we worked hard to do this in front of our own crowd, it's absolutely amazing."

"I think that after that first loss the group of guys came together and we said it's now us, we left everything on the side and we just focused on our game, focused on our rugby and then it all came together bit by bit."

New Zealand captain Bryn Hall: "
Yes, we are devastated, of course we came her ewith good thouhgts to win the game but I unfortunately we didn't get that result. We didn't win the battle up front but I'm really really proud of my boys the stuck to it the whole 80 minutes and I can't ask for anything more than that.

"I'm very proud to be New Zealander and I think the boys did as much as they could, it was a great contest and I want to thank all the supporters who came out, 30 something thousand people, it's an honour to be part of this."

"I think their lineout drive vas really good, we just couldn't stop it. We talked about it at half time but unfortunately we couldn't execute it, that's where they got all their front foot balls so maybe if we could have stopped that we would have got a different outcome."

"Definitely we didn't want that (to let the trophy go). We came in with a bit of confidence and wanted to know that we had a change of winning this championship.  We had a great training through the week, great build up, couldn't ask for more but unfortunately we got beaten up in the forwards a bit, and I think that's where we lost it.

"To represent our country, not only myself but all the boys were very, very happy to put the black jersey on, it's an hounour and a privilege to put this jersey on. It's been a great experience, it's been three weeks that we've been together, it's been awesome and it's definitely something that all of us will remember. It's been a long campaign, it's been six months but I'm just happy that all the boys stuck it to the end and didn't give up.

"That's what we spoke about the whole week, to never give up. It's out last opportunity to wear the black jersey, and whether you die or leave some blood or tears on here, you make sure you leave it all on the field and you make sure you don't leave any 'what ifs' or 'buts', you make sure that you just put everything out here and just leave it all here on the field."

New Zealand coach Rob Penney: "I'm really disappointed obviously but really proud of the guys beacuse they gave it a good crack. We were just up against to many hurdles tonight.

"I think there's a number of areas, I think we didn't quite capitalise on the opportunities we created and we knew we had to take every opportunity we got. I thought the South Africans were very competitive, they tried to beat us up front, which they succeed in doing  a few times."

"They'll be a lot better for it, they're a great bunch of young guys that have had a wonderful experience. I think they've been in an environment where they've nurtured and grown together and learned a lot about
themselves as rugby players but also, more importantly, a lot about themselves as people, it's been a very valuable experience."

Wales wing Tom Prydie: "We knew what was at stake for us and we managed to go out and get third. It’s a proud moment for us. No one has ever come third for Wales in a junior world cup before so we’re really happy.”

 “We were all gutted that we lost to New Zealand. On that day they were the better team, but we picked ourselves up and focused on this game, and just glad to get the win.”

“The standard is really good. It’s really quick and I’m sure a lot of the boys will be future stars. For me, it’s up there with winning my first cap.”

Wales coach Danny Wilson: "I think that was the goal and we’ve achieved the goal, something that we are proud of. These boys will always have with them that they finished third in the world at this campaign. It’s a great achievement, on the day our second half performance was a little bit ropey if I'm honest, but our first half performance did enough to win us that game."
"It’s been on their mind all week, they know they are very competitive lads and you’ve seen that throughout this campaign, their goal was to finish third and they’ve achieved that. Like I said, they are over the moon as we are as a management group, and this is a very proud day for us.
"They (Argentina) showed what they’ve shown all tournament, they are a very, very gutsy committed side and they pile into you at the breakdown - an area that we struggled with today - got turned over far too often. But they’ve had an excellent campaign, they’ve beaten Australia and they’ve beaten France, they beat a number of big sides so for us to get the win that was the important bit. We got the win and hopefully that’s something as a nation in age grade rugby we can build on in the future."
"Hopefully you’ll see a number of these come through in the same light (as 2008). This is a very tough tournament, its very quick there’s no doubt about that, and it is physical. To play at venues like this in front of these kind of crowds is something that these boys will only experience in such a competition."

Argentina captain Sebastian Poet: I'm very sad, today we came to get the third place but it didn't happen. It was a good World Championship but we wanted more and this leaves us sad."

"Once we'll be back we'll be happy but today it's hard, there are mixed feelings of bitterness for the game we lost, we wanted the third spot but we couldn't get it."

"We definitley learned a lot from this tournament, a lot of good things. For Argentina it's a great learnign experience to know that it's possible and that Argentina can to come to this tournament and not play for the ninth or tenth place."

Argentina coach Bernardo Urdaneta: "The road for us were these five games, we won three and lost two, the truth is that looking into the last game we had feeling that if we played like we can play we could be a competitive team, and we showed that in the second half.

"The most important thing for us is to have gained competence, playing at this level is very does nothing but elevate our learning. In our country we don't have such tournaments to help our players develop and I think we did a good job here."

Australia coach David Nucifora: "Yes, another disappointment. We had opportunities to win that game but we didn’t take them.  This is a young team, there's about half of them coming back next year or have the potential to come back next year, and hopefully they learnt some pretty decent lessons throughout the tournament of how to win games and put teams away."
"We made mistakes, we put pressure back on ourselves and England still presenting us with enough opportunities down there to win the game and we just didn’t take advantage of them - so young and inexperienced."
"Like it is every year, it’s a tough tournament.  You’ve got to play well, you have to come prepared to play and have to come prepared to be a tough discipline outfit, and that’s where we've got to improve."

England captain Chris Walker: ''Definitely we spoke about ending off on a high note, it hasn't been a very successful tournament for us but we have come out here and the boys have dug deep and I think we deserved the win"
"Yes we always believed in our team and I think we showed that but Australia are a quality team as they showed today, it was a massive test but credit to the boys we came through at the end"

''It's been a good experience for all the boys to come out here I think, we didn't achieve our goals but its been good to end with a win."

England coach Rob Hunter: ''Yes we knew we had enough time to score the points, I think the wind played a big factor in the first half and it was very very difficult to play into it as it was difficult for Australia to do in the second half, it was a tough match and both teams were in exactly the same position, we had the disappointment of not going through the pools took some time to get over and we just wanted to have a good game against a side that we don't get to play too often."
''It was very difficult, we are a bit beaten up with the bodies, we had 23 fit players for today it's just the same for the other guys, its a tough tournament this and its tough from day one and the very first match, it is very difficult because every one wants to be playing down at Newlands, that's where you want to be, but we got the result at the end and we are pleased for the lads."
''It's been very very tough, we have had a great time staying here , it's a great rugby country to come to, the interest even just walking through town and the hotel that we've been staying in they have just been so fantastic in supporting us and has helped get on the pitch and play as best as we can."

Ireland coach Mike Ruddock: “Mixed emotions. I’m delighted that we have finished as high as fifth, but having said that, I really think this team should be in the final. They’ve beaten the likes of England, France and South Africa. We let slip with that little bit of tiredness against England and South Africa went through (to the semi finals)”

“We knew that the first 20 or 30 minutes against France would be huge for us, we knew we would have to defend and that’s what we did, and that was the key to victory. From there we just built our game.”

“He’s (JJ Hanrahan) a typical Munster player – very skilful, very intelligent, knows the game inside out and he made the right calls again today – when to kick, when to run and when to pass. You need a guy who can keep the scoreboard ticking over, especially against a team like France.”

Ireland captain Niall Scannell: “If things had gone a bit differently for us we might have been in the semi final of a world cup so that was disappointing. But we took it all in our stride and we aimed to finish as high as we could. I’m just really proud of the players for the effort they put in and the attitude they showed to come back from the (England) defeat in the middle of this competition."

“We spoke last night about doing ourselves justice. People will go on to do different things, in and out of rugby. But wherever it takes us we wanted to be proud of what we did today.”

France coach Didier Retiere: "It was a very tough game and we knew it already before th game, Ireland is a very good team, especially in defense. Our boys did everything they could but it wasn't enought o be beat such a great team."

"We are in a bit in between, we missed the beginning of the tournament against Argentina and it was hard to put the team back on track for the competition."

"The two games against Australia were hard, we are moderately satisfied, we though we were going to finish fifth so we are also a bit disappointed."

France captain Karl Chateau: "The Irish team gave it's all, they challenged us in areas we felt quite confident, we weren't quite at our level today, I think we could have done better.We were tired, but they must have been just as tired, we are very disappointed."

"For all the the players it was a great experience, firstly from a sporting perspective, it's a great competition where we see a lot of players that we see playing on TV either in the European leagues on in the southern hemisphere ones, it's a great level of game and I think we all improved.

"From more of a personl level, we had the chance of visiting the townships, a great change to realize how life is here and that there are two seperate worlds. It's great to realize how lucky we are, we are taking part in an international competition, we all get paid and there are people that don't have enough to live with."

Scotland captain Harry Leonard: "It’s something we have been working towards for a long time now and that performance really showed everyone what we can do, we have had some seriously unlucky results in the tournament and everyone is really pleased that is went so well now."

'It’s a brilliant tournament, a massive learning curve for all the lads, it really brings out the professionalism aspect of rugby in today's game, such a short turnaround in each game and they are physical games of a really good standard so it's been an exceptional tournament."

Scotland coach Peter Wright: "I think we scored eight tries to four, it was a fantastic game, the team showed a lot of commitment as you saw towards the end, even if its the ninth or 10th place they want to win and come away win wins for their country and display pride and passion to win"
''I have to say that the tournament in Cape Town, South Africa has been fantastic and I have been to a lot of cities over the years with the tournament Japan and Argentina, Italy it has been a fantastic experience for the guys and for myself personally this will be my last World Cup, I am leaving at the end of the season so for me to finish in such a great city in such a great tournament with two wins I am very proud."

Samoa captain Ropeti Lafo: "You know the game today was pretty tough against Scotland, this is a higher level in our rugby career, I told my team to learn from this.”

Samoa coach John Schuster: "Obviously we were hoping to pick up another win today but it was not to be the Scots were too strong for us especially at the set pieces.  We were always on the back foot but with the tournament on the whole, we are happy with the outcome in that we have qualified for next year and that was the main objective of this campaign. We have picked up a lot of lessons this time around, we need to rebuild and regroup for next year."
"Everyone, every single person has enjoyed the experience. A lot of new players - for nine boys it was the first time on a plane out of Samoa. All in all we we will take back a lot of valuable experience from the tournament.”

Fiji coach Sale Sorovaki: ''You know our aim today was to win whether by 1 or by 50, this was really a very hard game for us both on the field and especially off the field. The players have come off two disappointing losses, one to NZ and to Samoa and I take my hat off to the players we had to play for our existence in this competition and full credit to our team"

''I take my hat off to the Italians, they taught us a few lessons at the maul. They took us on upfront and I think we employed a secret that the Italians didn't know who our kicker was and I think that took them by surprise. You know there is always the element of surprise in any game and I believe we came up trumps today with the kicking department.”

Italy captain Giovanni Maistri: "It has been a game fought to the last second, we can't say that we have kept anything back, we have managed to hold them back from scoring a second try in the second half, but unluckily it went this way."

"This defeat will cost us relegation, I won't be able to be with this team (next year) but some of the guys will go to play the Trophy and the objective will definitely be to get back up."