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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

France 9 Ireland 24 – In The Players’ Words

France 9 Ireland 24 – In The Players’ Words

Read post-match reaction from some of the players involved in today’s gripping Rugby World Cup Pool D encounter between Ireland and France in Cardiff.

IAIN HENDERSON: “Along with all the emotion, there was a bit of relief as well (at the final whistle). We had our targets and at the start of the week we knew how tough it was going to be for the whole team, not only the starting team but the bench too.

“We understand that the tournament can’t be won with only a matchday 15 or even a 23. It’s going to take the whole squad to win a tournament.

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“We’ve got our initial target of topping the group and now we’re looking forward to Argentina next weekend.”

JAMIE HEASLIP: “I have been really lucky in my career to have played in games for Leinster, Ireland and the Lions and that atmosphere surpassed pretty much anything I have played in. Both sets of fans were a credit to the game.

“At times our lungs were bursting and our legs were on fire. Then you get a break in the game and you hear them chanting. You look up and all you see is green. It just gives you a lift, a kind of 16th man kind of lift.

“Even coming down from the hotel with the horses leading us in. Many times I have been here (in Cardiff) and I had flashbacks of playing the Grand Slam game here. The crowd out there surpassed all of that. They were unbelievable and I cannot emphasise that enough.”

MIKE ROSS: “It was very important that when they (the replacements) came on there was no disruption. Anyone that’s coming in should be up to speed.

“It was very physical: I think my face (with a black eye) tells the story. I caught a knee or something at a breakdown.”

JACK MCGRATH: “It was pretty tense (coming on in the final quarter). They got a penalty and it got them to nine points. It was 14-9 and I thought we showed a bit of mettle there. We could have capitulated a little bit but the experience was there and even losing the likes of Paulie (O’Connell) and Johnny (Sexton), the lads stepped up in their positions and that just showed how tight a group we are.

“We knew it was 9-6 at half-time and we’d just put in a really good defensive effort and I thought we took a lot of confidence from that. It could have been different if they had scored, but coming in at half-time in the lead we knew it was there and we knew it was going to be a bruising battle. Unfortunate as it was that those guys went off, the guys who came in stood up and it was excellent to see.

“There’s no underestimating the Argentinians. They’ve been brought into the Rugby Championships now and they are playing unbelievable stuff.

“Their quality of player is only going up, playing the likes of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand every year, so for us it’s back to the drawing board tomorrow and work out where we are going to take them on.”

CHRIS HENRY: “Johnny thumped it up like we knew he would whenever they ran at him, which they did. He put his body on the line like he always has done, but I guess that was a French tactic.

“In other years there would have been doubts when he (Sexton) came off, we would have gone into ourselves probably. But it shows that in this squad, we have complete faith in one another. When (Ian) Madigan came on, he did really well and he lifted everyone.

“Paulie spoke really well before the game – he had everyone in tears. I know every player is just desperate to get Paulie back because if that’s his last outing in a green jersey it will be very, very sad.

“Before the match we talked about being clinical and taking our chances, all these buzzwords, but today we knew it was going to take more from us and we’d be going somewhere deeper. The words Paulie provided definitely got the best of everyone.

“The pressure keeps mounting up (heading into the knockout stages) and this was exactly where we wanted to be. Argentina are a quality side, though they are certainly an easier route than New Zealand, so we’ve achieved that.

“We’re lucky we have an extra day recovery, so it’s about getting back, regrouping and enjoying tonight, enjoying the company of each other. Everyone dug in really deep. But I really can’t wait for next week now, it’s going to be the biggest game of our lives.”

THIERRY DUSAUTOIR: “We didn’t have enough continuity in our offensive game, we made too many mistakes and were not able to have fast ball. Right now we’re all very tired and disappointed. But we have a match coming up, and it’s a quarter-final, so it will be very important.

“I am very sad for him (Paul O’Connell) because he is such a great player. Ireland would have needed him against Argentina. I don’t know more about his injury. He’s a huge fighter and I respect him a lot. After Brian O’Driscoll, he may be another huge player to retire.”

BERNARD LE ROUX: “Disappointed, obviously, but we still qualified and the competition still goes on. We didn’t want to lose a game but it has happened in the past as well and we’ll look forward to next week (against New Zealand).

“For Ireland to lose leaders (to injury) we hoped it would have an influence on the team and that we’d go better in the second half. But they just started running everything and it would probably have suited us better if Johnny (Sexton) had stayed on the field as we planned for the kicking game but then they played absolutely different.

“The Irish were really good at the breakdown, contesting the ball and made it really hard for us at the lineout – we didn’t get our lineout first phase right – and the scrum. They were strong. In the set pieces they were really well prepared.”

MATHIEU BASTAREAUD: “I am a competitor. Personally it was very difficult. You have dreams of a good match. I had a bit of time there and yes, I was very disappointed. We have to work to motivate ourselves for the next match.

“It’s true we had great difficulty in keeping the ball. We defended a lot. We were pushed back a lot. But I have confidence in the team to work together.”