Novice in the World Cup, made up largely of semi-professional players, the Chilean national team arrived in France without any major objective, but with the idea of “give a good image, show that we are a courageous team”. As such and in view of their resistance against the Japanese, the “Condors” can draw reason for satisfaction from their inaugural defeat, ultimately quite large (42-12), Sunday September 10, at the Toulouse Stadium.
“All our players are guys who have never played in the World Cup or against Tier 1 nations [les meilleures du monde] and in stadiums of more than 30,000 people. They don’t have this experience”explained before the meeting the Chile coach, the Uruguayan Pablo Lemoine, pillar of the Stade français in the early 2000s.
Only three players among the 23 selected play in Europe, but none in the first division: full-back Inaki Ayarza (Soyaux-Angoulême, second division), prop Matias Dittus (Périgueux, third division) in France, and captain and third row Martin Sigren (Doncaster) in England.
In this context, we understand better why Rodrigo Fernandez’s try was celebrated as a victory by the Chilean supporters at the start of the match (0-7, 6th). In 2022, another try from the flyhalf had gone around the worldduring the double confrontation won by his team against the United States, synonymous with qualification for the World Cup.
Eight tries in total
Japan reacted quickly through Amato Fakatava, who found the interval in defense, before a second try scored by winger Jone Naikabula after a scrum five meters away (14-7, 30th).
Twice reduced in numerical inferiority in the first period, Chile showed virtues in defense, before conceding a new try from Fakatava, following a maul, in added time of the first period (21-7, 40th).
The Chileans once again showed self-sacrifice to score a second try in the second half, flattened by Alfonso Escobar (21-12, 48th). But the “Brave Blossoms” (the “Courageous Flowers”) took off again, Michael Leitch at the same time scoring a try synonymous with the offensive bonus (28-12, 53rd).
At the end of the match, the Japanese, who remained on a series of nine defeats in ten matches, gave a little more relief to their success with tries concluded by the center Ryoto Nakamura (35-12, 72nd) and the second line Warner Dears (42-12, 80th). In total, Stadium spectators will have seen eight attempts during this torrid afternoon (37 degrees announced by the France Télévisions commentators).
In the standings of Group D, Japan – quarter-finalist of the last edition of the World Cup – temporarily pes England. The two teams will meet again on Sunday September 17, in Nice.
“Le Monde” deciphers the news and the challenges of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Beaten during their four preparation matches against Uruguay (26-25), Namibia (28-26) and twice against Argentina B (28-26 and 40-13), the Chileans have surely acquired confidence before going to challenge Samoa on Saturday in Bordeaux.
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