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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Players’ Reaction: France 25 Ireland 3

Players’ Reaction: France 25 Ireland 3

Ireland players Shane Horgan, Paul O’Connell and Denis Leamy give their reaction to Friday’s Pool D defeat to France which has Eddie O’Sullivan’s men fighting for their World Cup survival.

SHANE HORGAN:

“It’s fairly disappointing obviously…a defeat like that. There’s been a lot of work done over the past few weeks and months. I don’t think we performed the way we should or could have. I’m very disappointed, and the team is very disappointed in there as well.

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“It didn’t really work out there for us. A lot of the stuff we were trying didn’t really come off. It’s very difficult after all the work we’ve put in. The guys are trying hard but there were a lot of mistakes as well and we got punished for them.

“France played well. They’ve bounced back well from losing to Argentina in their first game. They were difficult opponents.

“We were still very much in the game at half-time. We thought that maybe if we got the first score after half-time that it would get our game going. We didn’t get enough ball at that stage and we didn’t retain it for long enough. We defended pretty well for a lot of the game. In the first half we did well against a pretty good French onslaught.

“It’s just disappointing that we couldn’t take advantage of the times that we were down in their 22 and that we didn’t leave their 22 with scores every time we were down there. You need to keep the scoreboard ticking over and we never really got it going at all.

“Mathematically, there’s still a chance of us making the quarter-finals. More than that, I think it’s important we put in a display against Argentina next week for a number of reasons.

“Not least, there’s a group of players in there that have played well for a number of years and it would just be shocking if we came to the World Cup and didn’t get something out of it. It certainly won’t be from lack of effort…we’ll give it everything we’ve got against Argentina.”

PAUL O’CONNELL:

“On current form it’s going to be very tough for us to beat Argentina with a bonus point but if it’s something we’ve to do, it’s something we’ve to pull out of somewhere.

“We’ve good players. We can do it, but I think we have to find our form and start playing again. Unless we do, on current form, it will be a miracle. On the standards we’ve set for the team over the last year I think it’s a possibility, but we need to find those standards again.

“”We have to figure out in the next few days what the problem is. We didn’t expect to be having this kind of experience in the World Cup. We’ll have nine days to recover and we’ll come back better for the match against Argentina.

“Expectations were definitely not too high. That is the way it has to be. We have a good team and the quality of the players has not been a problem, so there is nothing wrong with having high expectations for ourselves.”

DENIS LEAMY:

“We’re very disappointed with the result. Things didn’t go the way we wanted to, we came here to win. The penalty count was certainly a major factor in how France built up the scores. They just kept the scoreboard ticking over. We were defending very hard and the referee saw fit to penalise us a lot of the time. It really cost is dear.

“We allowed France to maul up front in the second half. That gave them momentum and they just came more and more into the game. After we got a man sin-binned, it was really backs to the wall. When the tries came, the game was over for us unfortunately.

“We just never really got going. We never got into our game plan. Sometimes you have to put your hand up and say that you were beaten by the better team.

“We still have an outside chance of qualifying next week so we have to go play for ourselves and get as much as possible out of it as we can and if we play to our capabilities maybe we can pull something off (against Argentina).

“There’s always hope. We’re still alive even if it’s barely. We’ve got to go out there and try and win the game and then you never know in sport.”