Warren Gatland has wished England well for the World Cup final against South Africa and also hailed their stunning semi-final defeat of New Zealand.
England head coach Eddie Jones taunted Gatland after the Wales boss appeared to question whether England had played their final a game early by overwhelming the All Blacks.
Gatland was speaking after his team had been beaten 19-16 by South Africa, which sent them into tomorrow’s bronze medal match against New Zealand.
And Jones later responded by saying: “Well, guys, can you just send my best wishes to Warren to make sure he enjoys the third and fourth place play-off.”
But Gatland was full of praise for Jones’s men.
“I was reflecting on the experiences I’ve seen in the past,” Gatland said. “I was thinking about 2011 and the All Blacks.
I thought England were excellent against the All Blacks – it was the best I’ve seen England play in the last 10 years. I thought they were outstanding.Warren Gatland
“They had a big game against Australia in the semi-final, and they maybe looked at that as their final.
“They played France in the final and it was probably a game they thought they could potentially win comfortably. It ended up being a very tight game.
“I thought England were excellent against the All Blacks – it was the best I’ve seen England play in the last 10 years. I thought they were outstanding.
“I think it will be a great final with two physical teams, and I hope a northern hemisphere team can win the World Cup.
“There are a lot of players there who I’ve been fortunate to have had personal contact with through the (British and Irish) Lions, and I want to wish them all the best.”
Gatland, meanwhile, described England’s response to the Haka before that game as “completely respectful.”