Laporte defends choices

France coach Bernard Laporte has defended his tactics in the aftermath of the heart-breaking World Cup semi-final defeat to England in Paris on Saturday.

Les Bleus started terribly conceding a try in the 2nd minute and their negative approach in the final hour played into the hands of the world champions, who completed a 14-9 victory at the Stade de France.

Laporte regretted his players’ inability to carry out the game-plan, rather than the game-plan itself.

“You can always say you should have done other things, but it all came down to almost nothing,” said Laporte, who will quit his post at the end of the World Cup to take up a role in the French government.

“I do not think we made mistakes as far as the composition of the team is concerned.

“We were just not able to express ourselves and had trouble putting our game into place.

“When you have lost, you can always have regrets about everything. We had problems putting in place our rhythm, and they knew how to stop us and prevent us playing quickly.

“We lost so we are not going to say that we chose the best solutions. We did not expose their weaknesses – it was as simple as that.”

France fell behind to Josh Lewsey’s try after 90 seconds, but were 9-5 ahead at the start of the second half thanks to three Lionel Beauxis penalties.

Jonny Wilkinson’s penalty made it 9-8 but England then had Joe Worsley to thank for his try-saving tap-tackle on Vincent Clerc in the left corner.

With France tiring, Wilkinson turned the screw and a penalty and drop-goal in the final five minutes did for the hosts.

Laporte said it came down to the small things, adding: “If Clerc had scored that try, we would be in the Final and we would not even be speaking about this.”

Fabien Pelous, playing in his last World Cup, admitted the defeat had been, and will remain, hard to take.

“I will never be world champion,” said the 33-year-old, who came off with a rib injury after 25 minutes following a Wilkinson tackle.

“I will not stop telling myself that we could have won.

“It’s not the end of the world or anything but I will feel bitter about it for the rest of my life.”

France will name their team for Friday’s third-place play-off game against Argentina on Tuesday.


365 Digital

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