A Year In Sport: All Blacks can conquer says Connors
09:00 17 January 2015
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Eton Manor coach excited about Rugby World Cup
Eton Manor head coach Jamie Connors is, like many, excited about the prospect of going to a World Cup match for the first time when England hosts the pinnacle event this year.
The eighth Rugby World Cup takes place between September 18 and October 31 and offers New Zealander Connors a chance to watch action from the tournament in person.
New Zealand are the holders and Connors is hoping his ticket to the first semi-final at Twickenham on October 24 lets him watch the All Blacks face South Africa in a mouth-watering clash.
“It will be good to have it in England because I’ve never been to a World Cup game before,” said Connors.
“I’m going to a quarter-final match at Cardiff and the semi-final at Twickenham, which is meant to be South Africa against the Kiwis.
“I have a few other tickets as well, so I am looking forward to it. For the 2003 World Cup I was over here in England when it was on in Australia.
“For 2011 it was back in New Zealand, but I was over here, so I am looking forward to being here.”
Connors would love his fellow countrymen to become the first to retain the Webb Ellis Cup, but expects South Africa to provide tough competition.
He has also backed England to be strong with home support sure to help the cause of Stuart Lancaster’s side.
“I certainly think New Zealand will be favourites, but there is four or five teams that can win it,” added Connors, whose Manor team sit second in London One North this season.
“South Africa will be tough to beat. The Northern hemisphere teams will be strong and you expect England, Wales and Ireland will be tough.
“France can beat anyone on their day too, but I guess it is about who puts together the best five weeks possible.
“Playing at Twickenham with 80,000 fans cheering for you will be great for England, but they have to get through their tough pool first.
“They have Australia and Wales in there so they have to get through that, but if they can, they have a good side of the draw.
“England shouldn’t face New Zealand or South Africa until the final, if they win their pool. So they will have a good chance.”
Connors has fond memories of the All Blacks triumph on home soil four years ago when they defeated France 8-7 in the final.
He believes they will be fully motivated to create history in England, adding: “I was in a bar in Leicester Square somewhere at nine in the morning when we won it in 2011 so I have good memories of that!
“It has never happened before where a country has retained the World Cup, but I’m sure that is good motivation for the All Blacks to try and do it this time and create history.”