Less enthusiastic than many observers about his team’s performance, the French coach of Portugal did not hide his regrets after the defeat against Wales (8-28).
On the pride and frustration of the evening
“I’m proud, yes. I knew my players would be generous. They surprised me with their talent and their will, but frustration prevailed because we did not give our full performance and we did not always make the right choices. We lacked efficiency in conquest. We gave them too many gifts and I think we didn’t play our rugby. 14-3 at halftime, it was heavy considering what we had shown. We were even better in the second, but we lacked the success to take the score and bother them. If Samuel (Marques, the scorer) had not had this discomfort in his calf, we would have been even closer. There were also errors in the choices. Anthony Alves hits this improbable kick and we take a counter and try behind. We also took a scrum at the end of the first half even though the referee had clearly said that we were not respecting the rules in the engagement…”
On the level of play of his team
“To say that we bothered Wales is nice. We feel that at one point, when we are Portugal, we are close to the breaking point. But we held on and managed to come back. We are the 16th nation in the world and it’s still pretty nice to have held them. Even if the players did not control the match as we would have liked. I wasn’t surprised that they were so close to the score, we could have even been closer. We hit two posts on penalty, plus one which escapes the poles. We could have been at 21-15 and hope would have existed for 80 minutes. The strength of my players is their enthusiasm. But it is also our weakness. We need more patience, we need to grow on this. When you can annoy Wales, you have to push more, the team has the potential. I also regret that we did not have José Cerqueira on the sidelines (forfeit for muscular discomfort). We lacked clarity on several actions, including when we crossed. And yet, it’s not for lack of telling them to be patient.”
On the physical level of its players
“We did a lot of preparation, starting at the beginning of June, and it was focused on putting together a physical and fast group. Everyone gave themselves. Half of the players are amateurs. So they were starting from further away. For amateurs, they were at the same level physically.
On Wales level
“They are not yet completely confident but they have a game plan and they use their power well. They turned out this evening, it must also be said. It’s a solid team.”
On the red received by Vincent Pinto and the arbitration
“He loses his balance in the air and can get very hurt. It can land on your head. That he takes a red on that bothers me a little. We saw clear obstructions elsewhere. The fourth official blocked us from changing on the sidelines several times, it’s unacceptable.”
On the atmosphere and the sequel
“It’s fantastic to participate in this World Cup with this group. I congratulate my players for their behavior. And the atmosphere was great. I will congratulate my players for their behavior, there is no doubt. When you have an opportunity like this, you have to go a little further. I know they have the potential to shine well in the future.”