It was not meant to be this way for French Rugby as the Rugby World Cup hosts joined equally sublime Ireland in bowing out at the quarterfinal stages.
Once again, showing why they are the most successful World Cup nations, New Zealand and South Africa displayed their cup rugby ability to progress to the semi-finals.
Now set to face Argentina and England in the semi-finals, the prospect of the first All Blacks vs Springboks final since 1995 is very much on the cards.
Speaking post-match, French defence coach Shaun Edwards further cemented himself as one of Rugby’s true gentlemen.
Head Held High
“In times of devastation like this, instead of feeling for yourself. It’s important to give credit to your opponent.
“They put the pressure on us with the bombs in the first half, which we just couldn’t seem to handle.
“They obviously put pressure on Antoine (Dupont) at the ruck, and he lost the ball as we ended up being behind the posts again. So due credit to South Africa because that’s rugby to be sporting like that.” Edwards said.
Asked whether his team had pride in what they achieved or simply regret, Edwards did not mince his words.
“Obviously regret at the moment, you know the last couple of decisions went against us.
“I was told the second Pollard penalty was potentially hands on the ground, but listen, this is rugby.
“We don’t complain too much about referees; they have a very difficult job, and we shake out opponents’ hand and wish them well,” he concluded.
“Listen, this is rugby, we don’t complain too much about referees. They have a very difficult job and we shake our opponent’s hand and wish them well.” 🔊
— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) October 16, 2023