A selection of the best quotes from players, coaches and referees at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan over the weekend.
‘Of course he feels bad about what he has done, but it is part of rugby. The word cruel is appropriate.’ – France captain Guilhem Guirado on Sebastien Vahaamahina’s red card against Wales.
‘It was a critical moment when we were down to 14 and they went for three points and hit the post. I think if they had gone to the corner and got some success it would have possibly been game over. We were very relieved to get to half time and consolidate things.’ – Wales coach Warren Gatland on his team’s lucky escape against France.
‘The better team lost today and that red card was obviously significant. The thing about our boys is that they don’t give up, that they stick right to the end.’ – Gatland rated France’s quarter-final performance better than Wales’.
‘We could have played really well and they could still have gone over the top of us. They are stifling, made it hard for us to breathe. When we did have opportunities to breathe we gave them oxygen back.’ – Ireland coach Joe Schmidt on the suffocating nature of the All Blacks.
‘It’s deja vu all over again, we shot ourselves in the foot and New Zealand capitalised on it. It’s hard enough playing against them with our A game, never mind our D game.’ – Ireland wing Keith Earls admits they produced a poor performance in the quarter-final against the All Blacks.
‘The Irish are some of the best travellers in the world, they don’t mind going anywhere for a party and they enjoy it. Kiwis are not quite so boisterous even if we don’t mind a party.’ – All Blacks coach Steve Hansen’s reaction to Irish fans drowning out the haka.
‘I said the same thing as he did: “Looking forward to seeing you and win, lose or draw, we’ll have a beer afterwards.”‘ – Hansen reveals what was said in the text message exchange between him and Eddie Jones after it was confirmed that the All Blacks will face England in the semi-finals.
‘South Africa were just too physical – this is what finals footy is about. They just bashed the shit out of us. They’re all about seven-foot-five. Besides the halfback, everyone else was a giant. They demolished our lineout and scrums at times. What can you do? You can’t ask to be bigger.’ – Japan wing Lomano Lemeki offers a very frank appraisal of the Springboks’ victory.
‘We’re everyone’s second-favourite team. It’s been amazing, that support.’ – Japan lock Luke Thompson says the Brave Blossoms have won hearts even in defeat.
‘I was behind the last man and I started laughing because the forwards were driving so well I couldn’t yell. It was amazing.’ – Bok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk says he was delighted to benefit from the pack’s grunt work by scoring a try in the 26-3 win over Japan.
‘England defended very well. Sometimes you’ve just got to suck that up and wear it. That’s life. – Wallabies coach Michael Cheika sums up his team’s quarter-final defeat by England.
‘We have a funny relationship. Deep down we really love each other but he’s never saying it to me. I always say it to him but he gets embarrassed and runs away.’ – Billy Vunipola reveals the dynamic behind his relationship with his big brother and England teammate Mako Vunipola.
‘A lot of people when I was growing up said I couldn’t do a lot of things, I wouldn’t amount to anything. My aim is to try and inspire the next generation like the 2003 lot did.’ – England prop Kyle Sinckler on how rugby helped him to prove people wrong and his aim for the future.
‘For any referee to officiate 50 Test matches takes a bit of resilience, so I feel proud that I’m still standing and trying to serve the game as best I can.’ – South African referee Jaco Peyper on reaching his half-century of Test matches in the quarter-final between Wales and France.
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