2011 Rugby World Cup: Gatland claims Wales squad are 'no monks'

Coach Warren Gatland denies Wales have been existing "like monks" during their World Cup campaign in New Zealand.

Wales go into Saturday's semi-final against France with Gatland claiming: "We are not whiter than white."

While England were damaged by stories of late-night revelry, the Welsh have been portrayed as virtually teetotal.

"A lot [has been] made of us being like monks and that there has been an alcohol ban. That's completely untrue," said Gatland.

"There has been no alcohol ban in this squad. Some of the stuff has been self-imposed by players. We have had a couple of nights when we have gone back to the hotel and we've had a drink.

"And a couple of times we have spoken with [captain] Sam [Warburton] and the senior players about putting the curfew on when the players come back after going out.

"You can't keep a lid on everything. You play a night game and there's a lot adrenalin and you say to players 'look go out if you are back in the hotel by 1.30 in the morning'. They might have gone to the casino [but] they are not drinking alcohol - some of them might have had a beer.

Jamie Roberts quad biking in New Zealand
Jamie Roberts quad biking

"There is a lot made that we are whiter than white. We definitely are not."

But Gatland admitted he has been impressed with the attitude of his players both on and off the field.

"These guys have been great ambassadors in this campaign for Wales," said the coach, whose side set up a meeting with France by beating Ireland in the quarter-finals.

"That's what's been important. There has been a sea-shift in terms of the professionalism and the way we have prepared.

"These guys have known right from day one that we were in pretty good shape heading towards this World Cup and if we looked after ourselves, both on and off the field, we could made an impact. I think we have done that."

Gatland was quick to point out that he has taken little pleasure from England's controversial World Cup, which was haunted by a string of off-the-field controversies.

The conduct of some England players resulted in front-page headlines throughout the tournament, prompting the Rugby Football Union to launch a review of player behaviour following the country's quarter-final exit at the hands of France.

On one occasion, captain Mike Tindall found his conduct under scrutiny after a group of players were given permission by team manager Martin Johnson to enjoy a night out drinking in Queenstown.

Tindall, who married the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips in July, later issued an apology for misleading the England management over his movements, having initially claimed he did not go on to another bar afterwards.

There were other indiscretions, too, notably when centre Manu Tuilagi was formally warned by police and fined £3,000 by England rugby officials after jumping from a ferry in Auckland.

"As a coach, I don't take any satisfaction whatsoever or any pleasure in the criticism that has been heaped on England," insisted Gatland.

"I know what it's like to be on the wrong side of the media in the past. As a fellow coach, there are a lot of good friends of mine in the England set-up.

"I don't take any pleasure - and I'm sure the Welsh team don't take any pleasure - on all that criticism that has been heaped on England.

"So, I just want to say we are no monks, we are not whiter than white and we have had our problems in the past."