The official Gloucester Rugby Club website has joined up withwww.zurichpremiership.comto round up all of the latest views from Clive Woodward and the England camp in the build-up to the weekend's World Cup final.
ZP: Just reflecting on this weekend, that was a massive effort of England to shut out the French wasn't it?
CW: Well it was a World Cup semi final and I was happy with the way that we prepared all week, we just tried to concentrate on the game and it was England v France, yes there were a lot of nerves and a lot of excitement but in the end I think that you look back at it, it was a bit of the Australia v New Zealand semi final, a little one sided in the end. They scored one try when we made a cock up at the line out, other than that they didn't get close. I thought that the forwards were magnificent and Martin Johnson was excellent, but it is history now and we just need to get our minds round playing the World Cup final on Saturday night.
ZP: The Zurich man of the match was Jonny Wilkinson but it is not just about him, it is the pressure that the team puts on the opposition that gives Jonny the opportunity for drop goals and penalties but it is just not about him.
CW: I have to say first of all we are extremely lucky having him in our team, he is the world's best number ten, he is just a brilliant guy to be with and to coach. But it is a team game, the ultimate team game. We like to score tries but if a team gives away penalties but you have to kick goals and without a goal kicker in your team you can come unstuck. We put a lot of pressure on the French, they had two yellow cards, it was such a good night. We played the conditions pretty well, although there were a few times that we nearly cracked up in the box because at times we didn't kick too well but we won the match and deservedly so. That is history now and the most important thing is to move on and talk about Australia, it is a huge opportunity for the whole team and this week we just have to get the whole team spot and that is what is foremost in my mind.
ZP: Just a word about Bernard Laporte he was very gracious in defeat saying that England was the better side on the night.
CW: Bernard Laporte is a great man and I know him well and I was really kind of annoyed when I saw some of the press come out last week and he was quoted as saying that he hated the English, I don't believe that and funnily enough when he came over to shake my hand after the game, he said lets get one thing straight, I never said that and I never would say that and I don't believe that he did. That is not him, and I have to say that you often see people at their strongest, when they feel at their weakest and he and Jo Masso handled themselves very well, along with Fabian Galthie and their attitude after the game spoke volumes to me about their character. I have been there and I know what it is like to lose such a big game, and I like to think that I handled myself in a similar way when it happened to me. It often happens in the media these days that these games are exaggerated and I think that it was quite pertinent that the first thing that he said to me was that I never said that.
ZP: It was pretty hard stuff last night, any injuries?
CW: No I don't think so, the doctor went round everyone last night. Although we will meet up this morning to do recovery and I should get a full report tonight. But everyone is very buoyant and I expect to pick the team on Wednesday and I expect to pick from thirty fit players. But this week is very, very important. The big thing this week is not to do anything differently and I am going to say no very adamantly to any special requests from the media. We have to be very bloody minded this week and say no to any requests and the time to pat ourselves on the back is next Sunday night but we are not here to come second and there will be huge disappointment if we don't front up on Sunday night. So it is a huge week and all the players and the management need to be aware of what we are all about and we have to be more bloody minded than any other week in all of our lives, we have got a job to do.
ZP: You eased off training last week, will you go full on this week or will you treat them differently?
CW: Yes it will be a quiet week this week. England have one less training day to prepare and that is quite a big advantage. It is Monday today, the match is on Saturday while most of our games have been on Sunday. We will do nothing today apart from recover, we will do a light walk through on Tuesday, some light training on Wednesday, there will be a day off on Thursday and probably a day off on Friday. We have done everything, most of what we need to do can be done in the team room, because we have to be very fresh for Saturday. I am very excited but we have to get things absolutely right and not let anyone for any reason interfere with what we are doing.
ZP: And talking about interfering there is a rumour going round that all the rooms in the hotel are bug free because you have a machine that sweeps the room is that right?
CW: That is very melodramatic, but yes we have a machine that anyone can buy in the shops that checks for bugs. I think that the story started because we went round the stadium before the match started and the machine went off twice and that was fine because they often have cameras in the changing room pre-match to see what the teams are doing and there is obviously live electrical wires. But it is a serious business but it was based on the series with the Lions when the Aussies purported to know the Lions line out calls. And we could loose a World Cup if we don't pay attention to these things, so that is what we are about and it is a serious matter. We have this little device and it is no bigger than a matchbox and Tony Biscombe, who is our IT man, goes round the hotel rooms and the team rooms and makes sure there are no devices. Sometimes people don't understand the huge stakes that we are playing for and we don't want to take any chances and we don't, it is just common sense and we have done it for a couple of years now and it is now our standard way of operating. It is just quite good fun to see if there are any bugging devices hanging around your room or your phone.
ZP: There is no truth in the rumour that Eddie Jones is moving to Manly this week?
CW: I think that he is at Randwick with some of the French guys, no you don't imagine that you would have the Aussie coach around but there are plenty of ways of getting information to the other team, the media can do it, the press can do it, if anyone could hear what actually happens in team rooms I am sure that they would be very interested. But you just don't allow that to happen, it is just security and we take security very seriously. We have to put security now round Johnny Wilkinson, if you could see him last night just getting off the bus he was absolutely mobbed and we need people around him to look after him. We think that we are good at that, some of the media say that it is a massive overreaction, we just take it in our stride and there is no cost involved and we are very professional about it and we do our job no differently to any large corporation. If they were having any conferences they would make sure that the rooms were bug free and secure.
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).