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Nick Mulvenney

Brunel era closes with France still looking for the killer punch

4:22am BST

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.

France question Welsh winning try but no dispute over red card

20 Oct 2019

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.

Rugby-France question Welsh winning try but no dispute over red card

20 Oct 2019

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 stand. 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 tournament. "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 break. "Of course, we're playing with 14 men and it's difficult," he said. "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 said. "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)

It's a Cheik out as Australia coach quits after World Cup exit

20 Oct 2019

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.

May strikes twice as dominant England crush Wallabies 40-16

19 Oct 2019

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.

Wallaby greats Pocock and Genia bow out grateful and proud

19 Oct 2019

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.

Rugby-Wallaby greats Pocock and Genia bow out grateful and proud

19 Oct 2019

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 drubbing. "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 2015. "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 me. "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 end. "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 said. "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)

Our way or no way, says defiant Cheika as Australia crash out

19 Oct 2019

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.

Rugby-Our way or no way, says defiant Cheika as Australia crash out

19 Oct 2019

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 questions. "I came here with only one thought in my mind about winning and that thought's just disappeared now. Not 15 or 20 minutes ago. "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 costly. 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 points. "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)

UPDATE 2-Rugby-May strikes twice as dominant England down Wallabies 40-16

19 Oct 2019

(Adds quotes) 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 Ireland. 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 Farrell. "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 Curry. 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 tackle. EIGHT-POINT LEAD 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)

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