YOKOHAMA, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Maro Itoje said it was “not exactly a disco” in the England dressing room following the crushing 32-12 loss to South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday but the players will try to use the pain of defeat as motivation for the future.
Itoje, one of the standout players of the tournament and man of the match in England’s semi-final win over New Zealand, could not have the same impact on Saturday as the Springboks out-thought and outclassed Eddie Jones’ side.
However, the 25-year-old lock is one of a number of younger England players who are already hoping for redemption in France in four years’ time.
“It is the most fun I have had in an England side so we are trying to draw positives out of the journey despite being very gutted we couldn’t get the job done,” a disconsolate Itoje told reporters.
“We want to get better and most of this squad will be at the next one. It is a long way away to think about now but our goal is to do better next time around.”
Itoje is one of a number of key England players, such as flanker Tom Curry and winger Anthony Watson, who are 26 and under and will believe they have another chance of World Cup glory at France 2023.
Itoje accepted his silver medal from World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont after the match but refused to have it placed around his neck.
He said it was just too painful watching Beaumont then give the South Africans their gold medals.
“Losing this game was one of the most painful experiences that I have had in life, not just my rugby career. It is not easy,” said Itoje, who is a serial winner at club level with English Premiership side Saracens.
“It is not exactly a disco in there (the England dressing room) but we are united, we are sticking together, we are talking to each other and consoling each other.
“It is a tough time and tough period to go through but if we stay together then I am sure all will be well in the long run.
“We are disappointed to lose. Our goal was to win the World Cup and we have fallen short.” (Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Ken Ferris)