Don’t Worry, Be Happy . . . And Trust In Warren

Warren Gatland has been this way before, so it’s no surprise he thinks he can guide Wales to the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup.

He did it in 2011 and again in 2019.

If Wales can beat Argentina in Saturday’s quarter-final in Marseille, then Gatland – against all the odds and most of the pre-tournament predictions apart from his own – will have done it again.

After taking 19 points out of a possible 20 from pool wins over Fiji, Portugal, Australia and Georgia, Wales now face the Pumas for a place in the final four.

Whoever wins at Stade de Marseille will not only play in the semi-finals, but also stay to play in either the Bronze or main RWC final.

Gatland has twice led Wales into the semi-finals but has not yet been able to reach the final.

This will be the New Zealander’s 138th game in charge of Wales and his 28th game at the World Cup – four with Ireland and 24 with Wales.

It is a tournament he knows better than any other coach in the world.

“The first challenge is to make the knockout stages, that’s the biggest hurdle you want to get over. Then the quarter-final poses its own challenges and pressures because you’re either here to the end of the tournament, or you’re going home on Monday,” he said.

“We’re not surprised at all by where we are, and in finishing top of our group. We haven’t picked up too many injuries, which has been a bonus, and we think we are in pretty good shape from both a physical and mental point of view.”

Pumas head coach Michael Cheika was quick to install Wales as favourites when he announced his team.

He already has one World Cup win over Wales when he was in charge of Australia in 2015, and enjoyed a 15-6 pool victory at Twickenham.

That 2015 defeat to the Wallabies is one of only two pool defeats Wales have suffered under Gatland.

The other was a one-point reverse to the Springboks in the opening game in 2011. It means Gatland has a record of 14 wins in 16 pool matches, as well as two out of three quarter-finals.

When asked about being installed as favourites, Gatland added: “I don’t know where Michael has got that from. He’s probably trying to take some pressure off himself. If you read too much, there was plenty of speculation and people predicting we wouldn’t even get out of the pool.

“But we’ll embrace that. We haven’t spoken about ‘underdogs or favourites’ tags, we are just going through our own processes and working as hard as we can to make sure our preparation is right.”

Gatland has made six personnel changes to his starting XV from the team that defeated Georgia last time out, with fit-again Dan Biggar starting at fly-half, and Tommy Reffell retained at openside flanker.

Captain Jac Morgan moves to blindside flanker and Aaron Wainwright replaces the injured Taulupe Faletau at No.8.

For Argentina, scrum-half Tomás Cubelli has replaced Gonzalo Bertranou and Facundo Isa has come into Los Pumas’ back row for the injured Pablo Matera.


Nervous? Feeling edgy? Here’s some good omens to calm you down.

Wales have the upper hand in matches against Los Pumas, winning 15 and drawing one of the 22 tests between the two sides, including both past meetings at Rugby World Cups, in 1991 – their first full test meeting – and 1999.


The referee is Jaco Peyper (South Africa). It was Peyper who was in charge of Wales’ tense come-from-behind quarter-final win over France in Japan four years ago.


And . . . relax.