October 5, 2019 / 12:04 PM / 10 days ago

Lavanini red card costly but fair, says disappointed Pumas coach

TOKYO (Reuters) - Argentina coach Mario Ledesma said Tomas Lavanini’s dismissal in Saturday’s loss to England had effectively ended his team’s hopes of reaching the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals but he had no problem with the referee’s decision.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Pool C - England v Argentina - Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - October 5, 2019 Argentina's Tomas Lavanini is shown a red card by referee Nigel Owens REUTERS/Issei Kato

Lock Lavanini was given his marching orders by Nigel Owens in the 17th minute of the Pool C clash at Tokyo Stadium after driving his shoulder into the jaw of England skipper Owen Farrell.

“It had a big impact because it was early in the game and I thought it was fair,” coach Ledesma told reporters after the 39-10 loss.

“The commitment from the boys was incredible and lasted the whole game. It became too difficult in the second half but they never stopped going.”

While England progressed to the quarter-finals with the victory, twice semi-finalists Argentina need Tonga to upset France on Sunday to retain any chance of going through.

Ledesma was clearly not counting on that happening.

“We were not able to meet expectations of our fans so I am disappointed with that,” he added.

“But we have to move on and show that never-give-up spirit. We were able to show that today.

“It was the first World Cup for 16 (of our) players so they have learnt a lot. The staff have learnt a lot too so we would like to carry on what we are doing. We need to stick together, all the generations, be cohesive.”

The former hooker’s calm acceptance of the defeat was in marked contrast to his fury after their opening loss to France at the same stadium two weeks ago, when he blamed referee Angus Gardner for the narrow defeat.

Ledesma said he thought the Pumas were looking good on Saturday until the red card.

“In the first 15 minutes of the first half we put in a performance to get to the next stage, but after the red card our situation was severe,” he said.

“The pack was a man short so then we lost our forward power. It certainly had a negative impact on the game. Of course, if we had won against France it would have been easier for us.”

Ledesma said he would not consider resigning as coach even if Argentina fail to get through to the knockout stages at a World Cup for the first time since 2003.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Pool C - England v Argentina - Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - October 5, 2019 Argentina's Tomas Lavanini is shown a red card by referee Nigel Owens REUTERS/Issei Kato

“My contract is running, I am obviously the head coach and I am responsible,” he said.

“But I am not blaming myself. It’s the World Cup, there’s always teams winning and losing, we are not the first.

“England didn’t get through the pool stages in their own World Cup. Ireland, Scotland, Wales... every other team. We are looking forward to the future.”

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Tony Lawrence

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