France 9-8 Wales, Rugby World Cup, October 15, 2011
Edwards proud of Warburton and co
October 15, 2011
Shaun Edwards faces the media the morning after the night before © Getty Images
Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards defence coach managed to keep his frustration and disappointment in check as he faced the media the morning after Saturday night's heart-breaking Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat by France.
The Welsh came desperately close to pulling off a historic victory but ultimately came out on the wrong side of a 9-8 scoreline after seeing a Stephen Jones conversion attempt come back off the post and Leigh Halfpenny fall agonisingly short with a long-range penalty attempt.
However, the most significant factor in Wales' defeat was the 18th-minute dismissal of skipper Sam Warburton for a tip tackle on France wing Vincent Clerc, with many pundits arguing after the game that the challenge had warranted nothing more than a yellow card.
Edwards refused to be drawn on the rights and wrongs of the sending off, preferring instead to laud the Welsh players for the way in which they had managed to dominate the French with reduced numbers and bemoan the fact that their heroism had not been justly rewarded.
"I feel empty," he said. "I just think there's a sense of disappointment that a team who have acquitted themselves so well and want to entertain fans and want to play rugby, are not in the sport's premier blue riband event.
"It is very tempting for me to come out with loud statements but it is more important I keep my dignity in what is quite a trying time.
"You take comfort from the fact that the men you are involved with are an incredibly courageous, incredibly dedicated group who have come to the premier event and acquitted themselves in such a magnificent manner.
"My name is beside them and I am proud to be at the side of Sam Warburton's name, I am proud to be at the side of Alun Wyn Jones' name. I have been involved with a lot of good teams in my life in rugby league and rugby union and all I can say is that I am proud to have my name beside Sam Warburton's.
"They are everything that is good about the game of rugby. They are together, there are no cliques. It is why you want your son to go and play rugby, so your son behaves how these guys behave."
As well as the missed kicks by Jones and Halfpenny in the second period, fly-half James Hook had also failed with two kickable penalties in the first half, leaving Edwards lamenting what might have been had just one of those strikes on goal gone over.
"Obviously goal kicks cost us quite dearly,'' he said. "One of the standards that put us apart from our opponents was the standard of our goal-kicking and unfortunately we missed three kicks that we would normally get, and that was part of it.
"I still think we could have won the game, which is such a testimony to the ability, the attitude and the strength of this team. It is a shame for the rugby world that the team are not playing in the premier, blue riband event of world rugby. That is not just my opinion but it seems to be everyone's opinion."
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