KOBE – United States coach Gary Gold on Wednesday said his “severe underdogs” would take heart from Japan’s stunning 2015 Rugby World Cup victory over South Africa as they prepare to take on heavyweights England.Gold said all the pressure would be on the 2003 champions, who have made 10 changes from the team that beat Tonga 35-3 on Sunday, with only a four-day turnaround between games in Pool C.Japan beat South Africa 34-32 in 2015 in the biggest upset seen at the Rugby World Cup, while other major surprises include Tonga’s 19-14 win over France.“It certainly has changed the mindset,” Gold told reporters at the Kobe Misaki Stadium on Wednesday.“Japan vs South Africa and Tonga vs France is one that comes to mind, from 2011.”Gold added: “We don’t really have anything to lose. Expectation is quite low, nobody will give us a chance. Conversely, that puts pressure on a team like England.“The England players – that’ll be going through their mind, maybe not for very long, but it’ll be going through their mind – ‘What if, what if, what if?’“The pressure’s really on them not us.”Gold said a rare opportunity for the USA to test themselves against three top-flight teams in quick succession – France and Argentina are also in Pool C – was a chance to show they belonged on the world stage.
“What it does, from our point of view, is that it allows us an opportunity to show that we have improved and that we hopefully can go toe-to-toe, even in the form of large periods of the game against a team like England,” he said.“We’ve put the pressure on ourselves in terms of performance. We want to come out of this game with credibility. We believe in ourselves, we think we’re a good rugby team and we’re certainly improving. We want to give England a good run for their money.”Gold, whose coaching CV includes stints in charge of Premiership clubs Bath and Worcester, said that even a much-changed England would be formidable opponents.“I genuinely don’t think there are any weaknesses in this England team.“They defend particularly well, their set piece is outstanding, they’ve got good ball-in-hand play.“George (Ford) runs the show brilliantly from 10 (fly-half). Their nines (scrum-halves) kick very well. Believe me, we’ve tried to find it.”Meanwhile Gold, a former coach of the Kobe-based Kolbeco Steelers, said Jones’s influence on Japan had been considerable.“The work that Eddie has done has helped put rugby on the map (in Japan). I think the Rugby World Cup is just going to accelerate that even further,” he said.“I’ll really be surprised if they don’t qualify for the quarter-finals of this Rugby World Cup,” added Gold.