Ibanez: ‘We knew we could win’

French coach Bernard Laporte praised his team’s fighting spirit, while captain Raphael Ibanez spoke of the self belief in the side after their historic 20-17 victory over Ireland on a memorable Six Nations occasion at Croke Park on Sunday.

Ireland seemed set for victory when Ronan O’Gara’s fourth penalty in the 77th minute stretched Ireland’s lead to four points (17-13), but France regathered the restart and sent Vincent Clerc through for the winning try.

Ibanez revealed his side had swatted up on the history at Croke Park, but denied the significance of the occasion had made the victory sweeter.

And the Wasps hooker insisted he was always confident France could snatch victory – even when there was just one minute on the clock.

“We were conscious of the history behind the match. We read history books all week and had a meeting when everything was explained to us,” he said.

“We knew all about the history of Croke Park, but the fact it was such a big event does make the win more satisfying. It’s just a game of rugby and now we’ll see if we can go all the way.

“Even when it looked like we had lost there was still hope in the French side. We still believed we could win the game.”

Laporte showered his team with praise and was delighted to have secured victory over one of Les Bleus’ group opponents at the World Cup.

He said: “Our spirit in forwards was brilliant. We stuck to our task well. We’ll take some valuable experience from this performance.

“We beat Argentina in the autumn and Ireland today so now we’ve beaten two of our rivals in the World Cup group stages.

“The thing I want to remember from this game was the spirit,” Laporte told a news conference.

“We made some mistakes but most of them were through a lack of concentration. That’s not serious and can be addressed in training. What we did show was belief – right until the end we felt we could win the game.

“The symbol of that spirit was the drop goal [by Lionel Beauxis, which hit the post just before O’Gara’s final penalty].

“It missed, but we still came back and scored the try.”

Ibanez, who scored a try as they dominated the first 20 minutes, took a similar view.

“I never saw any of our players panicking or creaking under the pressure,” he said.

“The stand erupted when O’Gara got his last penalty, but I really believed we could score from the restart.”

365 Digital

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