OITA, Japan In the end, the answer to the question of which France would turn up at the World Cup was a bit of the team that plays rugby with flair and ambition but also a bit of the ill-disciplined rabble that can conjure defeat from the jaws of victory.
OITA, Japan France coach Jacques Brunel said he had no complaints about the red card shown to Sebastien Vahaamahina during the World Cup quarter-final loss to Wales on Sunday but was unhappy that the winning try was allowed to stand.
By Nick Mulvenney
OITA, Japan, Oct 20 France coach Jacques Brunel
said he had no complaints about the red card shown to Sebastien
Vahaamahina during the World Cup quarter-final loss to Wales on
Sunday but was unhappy that the winning try was allowed to
Lock Vahaamahina was red-carded for elbowing Welsh flanker
Aaron Wainwright in the face in the 49th minute of the 20-19
defeat at Oita Stadium, which sent the French crashing out of
"The red card, I don't contest it," Brunel told reporters
after the match.
"I think it was a reflex action. He did make contact with
the face, we can't deny it. I don't have a problem with the
decision. But there were other decisions I didn't agree with."
Most notable among them was the one by referee and TMO to
let Ross Moriarty's 74th-minute try stand despite the ball
appearing to go forward after it was stripped from the hands of
a French player.
"On the last scrum, we lost the ball," said Brunel. "I would
like to see the last try again, because I think there is a
player who grabbed the ball and then it went forward.
"So I'd like to see that decision again and I’m a little
disappointed with that."
Brunel said the red card clearly changed a contest which
France had dominated in the first half, scoring three tries with
some brilliant running rugby and taking a 19-10 lead into the
"Of course, we're playing with 14 men and it's difficult,"
"But I want to stress the quality of our team. We showed
courage, we showed a lot of panache. We had to make up for the
numerical disadvantage. We had lots of opportunities to score
and I want to stress the quality of the French team."
It was only the third time that France had failed to reach
the semi-finals at the World Cup and brought a sorry end to the
reign of Brunel as coach.
"The overall performance is not positive, we wanted to go
further, so in some respects it's a failure," he conceded.
"But nobody expected us to get out of the pool, nobody
expected we would win the quarter-final.
"We showed we were capable of winning but we didn't so
that's the outcome so of course we are disappointed."
France will host the next World Cup in 2023 and Brunel said
he thought there were seeds of a side that might be able to
mount a title challenge on home soil.
"It will be necessary over the next four years to build up a
team that will have results and that will give them confidence.
That's probably what we lacked," he added.
"For the future generations, we were one of the youngest
teams in this competition. These guys will keep on learning.
This is going to make them mature by going through this.
"What they experienced today will teach them a lesson. I
think there's a brighter future for this team."
Captain Guilhem Guirado, who described the defeat as
"cruel", said France should have put the game beyond the reach
of the Welsh long before the end.
"We shouldn't have made all the mistakes that we did," he
"We wanted to be the best... today in the game we showed we
are not far from reaching that level."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Tony Lawrence)
OITA, Japan Australia coach Michael Cheika said on Sunday he would not seek to be re-appointed when his contract expires at the end of 2019, bringing an end to his often troubled five years in charge.
OITA, Japan Winger Jonny May scored two tries in three first-half minutes as England underlined their World Cup credentials with a dominant 40-16 win over Australia on Saturday to set up a semi-final against reigning champions New Zealand.
OITA, Japan Australia's thumping loss to England on Saturday not only brought an end to their World Cup campaign, it also brought down the curtain on the careers of Wallaby greats David Pocock and Will Genia. Captain Michael Hooper said not to being able to send the duo into international retirement in a better manner only reinforced his disappointment at the 40-16 quarter-final drubbing.
By Nick Mulvenney
OITA, Japan, Oct 19 Australia's thumping loss to
England on Saturday not only brought an end to their World Cup
campaign, it also brought down the curtain on the careers of
Wallaby greats David Pocock and Will Genia.
Captain Michael Hooper said not to being able to send the
duo into international retirement in a better manner only
reinforced his disappointment at the 40-16 quarter-final
"I've been a fan of those guys from being a young fella, to
now playing alongside (them). Very proud to represent Australia
with them," said the 27-year-old flanker, who will now have to
wait until next season to win his 100th cap.
"A lot of me wanted to be able to send those guys out how
they deserved to, but we weren't able to and that's part of the
feeling – I'm feeling pretty gutted."
Pocock, a three-times world player of the year nominee, and
Genia, who was nominated once, both played in three World Cup
campaigns, reaching the semi-finals in 2011 and the final in
"It's the end. A bit of an outpouring of emotion after the
game," said scrumhalf Genia.
"It's been an amazing journey. I've been so blessed and so
privileged to have lived my dream. I'm very sad but also very
grateful. Like, how lucky? Got to play 11 years for Australia,
three World Cups.
"I never thought I was the most talented bloke, I always
wanted to be someone who worked hard so put myself in a position
to play well. I finish on 110 tests which I’m pretty proud of."
Pocock, whose brilliant poaching performance in the 2011
quarter-final against the Springboks all but won Australia the
match, will finish with 83 caps.
"Not how I thought I would end. Just cop it on the chin,"
said the 31-year-old flanker.
"I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have had in
the Wallabies jersey and for the opportunities rugby has given
"As an immigrant moving to Australia it has given me so much
opportunity. I am grateful for the support I have had in
Australia and family and friends in Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans all
around the world."
Both players pointed to the performance of teenage centre
Jordan Petaia on Saturday as evidence that the future of
Australian rugby was bright.
Fullback Kurtley Beale has signalled his intention to play
on at test level and he chose to pay tribute to Michael Cheika,
whose five-year reign as coach is also almost certainly at an
"One of the best things about him is that you become a
better footballer under him, but overall, when you reflect, you
become a better person under his guidance," the 30-year-old
"It's a very powerful thing to have as a person. His legacy
will 100 per cent live on in this gold jersey."
(Editing by Tony Lawrence)
OITA, Japan Michael Cheika said he would prefer to lose the Australian way, with ball in hand, than win by playing a more conservative game after the Wallabies crashed out of the World Cup quarter-finals against England on Saturday.
By Nick Mulvenney
OITA, Japan, Oct 19 Michael Cheika said he would
prefer to lose the Australian way, with ball in hand, than win
by playing a more conservative game after the Wallabies crashed
out of the World Cup quarter-finals against England on Saturday.
The Australia coach said it was too early to decide on his
future, lambasting reporters for their insensitivity in asking
the question, and was equally defiant when asked if he had been
tactically outwitted by England coach Eddie Jones.
"We could have played better without a doubt, you always
can," he said after the 40-16 loss at Oita Stadium.
"But listen, that's the way we play footy, I'm not going to
go to a kick-and-defend game. Call me naive but that's not what
I'm going to do.
"I'd rather win it our way or no way. That's the way Aussies
want us to play."
Australia reached the final four years ago in England and
Cheika had previously said he would only stay on after this
tournament if the Wallabies improved on that in Japan by winning
a third World Cup.
His feelings may be moot, given his contract expires at the
end of the year, but he was certainly not prepared to share his
thoughts on Saturday.
"Mate, I'll be honest, it's a cruel, cruel world when you
ask those questions two minutes after you've been knocked out of
the World Cup," he said.
"And if you find it inside you to have a little bit of
compassion for people who are hurting, just ask more relevant
"I came here with only one thought in my mind about winning
and that thought's just disappeared now. Not 15 or 20 minutes
"When the time comes, I'll tell it. Sweet?"
Cheika said two interceptions in the match, combined with
one at a crucial stage of the pool loss to Wales, had been
Saturday's match, he argued, had come down to one or two key
moments, most notably when Australia were camped in front of the
England posts around the hour mark but came away without any
"I thought they played very well," he said of England.
"While the score was a bit large towards the end, it is a
game of fine margins, a couple of intercepts, but we had our
opportunity when we took the scrum down under the goalposts.
That was the time to score.
"They were deserved winners and they'll be a handful going
forward in the tournament."
(Editing by Tony Lawrence)
By Nick Mulvenney
OITA, Japan, Oct 19 Winger Jonny May scored two
tries in three first-half minutes as England underlined their
World Cup credentials with a dominant 40-16 win over Australia
on Saturday to set up a semi-final against New Zealand or
Four years after the Wallabies sent England packing out of
their own tournament, Eddie Jones's side gained a measure of
revenge while extending their winning streak over the
Australians to seven matches.
Australia played a full part in an engrossing contest but in
the end were well beaten by a team who defended stoutly, took
their chances ruthlessly and had a flyhalf in Owen Farrell who
managed the game maturely and kicked flawlessly for 20 points.
England, who scored four tries in all to Australia's one,
have now won three out of three World Cup quarter-finals against
Australia following their upset wins of 1995 and 2007 and will
move on with confidence to the clash with the All Blacks or
Ireland, who play later on Saturday.
"I thought Australia made that a brilliant game. They
attacked throughout but our boys did well in defence and managed
to get some field position off the back of it," said skipper
"We know when we have field position we can be pretty
dangerous. We did what was needed. We had the lead and Australia
were throwing everything at us again. We wanted to play the game
at our pace and we did that in the second half."
Twice world champions Australia were losing finalists in
2015 and while their early departure will probably mark the end
of Michael Cheika's five-year reign as coach, he will be pleased
they went down attacking with ball in hand.
"We played an attacking style of rugby which I think really
threatened the English today," said skipper Michael Hooper.
"Congratulations to England for a good win. We are really
upset, we emptied into this and didn’t get it. We are gutted."
Australia made the better start but were unable to turn
early possession into points until flyhalf Christian Lealiifano
opened the scoring with a penalty after 11 minutes.
The lead would only last seven minutes before the first of
May's double strike, England giving the Wallabies an object
lesson in how to make pressure pay when the winger went over on
the overlap after a beautifully delayed pass from flanker Tom
Australia went straight back on the attack but a David
Pocock pop-pass went through the hands of Lealiifano and Henry
Slade swooped onto the ball, the centre racing 40 metres before
putting May into the left corner again with a neat grubber kick.
The Wallabies were stunned but still avoiding kicking out of
defence, making good ground with ball in hand and again working
their way deep into England territory only to spill the ball in
The referee was playing advantage, however, so Lealiifano
was able to cut the deficit to 14-6 from the kicking tee, with
another penalty apiece before halftime sending England into the
break with an eight-point advantage.
Three minutes into the second half and it was one point, a
lofted pass from Reece Hodge setting centre Jordan Petaia free
on the left, the teenager finding Marika Koroibete who turned
May inside and out before touching down.
Another England double whammy almost immediately put the
Australians on the back foot again, however.
Farrell first provided a sublime flat pass to put prop Kyle
Sinckler in for his first test try and then, after his pack had
monstered Australia at the scrum, the flyhalf stepped up to
extend the lead to 27-16.
Australia knew they needed to score next but, when offered
the opportunity with a penalty in front of the posts just before
the hour mark, Michael Hooper elected to go for a scrum.
England's eight held firm, the defence held firm, and soon
they were back in the Australia half hammering away at the try
line and earning a penalty that Farrell slotted to take the lead
to 14 points.
The 2003 champions were now in full control and Farrell
slotted a fourth penalty after Australia collapsed a rolling
maul in desperation.
The Wallabies were forced to throw caution to the wind and
Anthony Watson scored a fourth try from an intercept four
minutes to ensure England would match their record winning
margin over Australia, the 30-7 win in 2017.
(Editing by Tony Lawrence)