France still hurting: Coach reflects on heartbreaking World Cup loss to Boks

France still hurting: Coach reflects on heartbreaking World Cup loss to Boks

France coach Shaun Edwards admits that there are still lingering feelings of "injustice" following their agonising defeat to South Africa in the 2023 Rugby World Cup quarter-final.

Just under three months on from that loss and Les Bleus continue to lick their wounds after their home tournament was ended in the last eight.

The French succumbed 29-28 to the Springboks, who would then go on to defend their World Cup title with two more one-point knockout victories over England and New Zealand.

"Sometimes you get a sense of injustice. I thought we played some magnificent rugby, both in attack and defence, throughout the competition," Edwards told Rugby World. "But South Africa, fair play to them, they found a way to win the game, which is not unusual for them.

"They continued in that vein, winning every game by one point. Due credit to South Africa. But we're obviously aggrieved in some certain ways. It's probably one of¦ a very, very difficult loss for us and for me.

"Our attackers caused a lot of problems for the defence. They posed a lot of problems for our defence with a different tactic, the up-and-under. There are many different ways to score tries in rugby and you only get the same points."

France's focus must now turn to the upcoming Six Nations, despite the frustrations they may feel about the recent World Cup.

Fabien Galthie's men are looking to regain the title they won in 2022, but Les Bleus must do it without star scrum-half Antoine Dupont.

It will be interesting to see how they react, especially with that disappointment still lingering within the French set-up.

Although Edwards was pleased with their preparations ahead of the World Cup and admitted that they couldn't have done any more to put themselves in the position to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, it was still not enough.

"I thought everything we did was aligned to winning. We beat New Zealand in the first game and I thought our performance against Italy was outstanding," he added.

"You have to remember we only beat them by one score the last time we played them. I thought the real France turned up on the night.

"I don't think we could have done anything more. The fitness in Monaco (at a pre-tournament camp) was a very high standard. The guys trained extremely hard and were in great shape. That was proven in the first game against New Zealand.

"It was played in unbelievable heat. It's one of the hottest games I have ever been involved in. I've played in Papua New Guinea, in North Queensland, and that was boiling. So I don't think I there is much more we could have done.

"Fair play to South Africa. In rugby, you get knocked down and you've got to get back up off the floor, shake your opponent's hand and wish them luck. That's what you have got to do."

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