Here we have a selection of quotations from some of the players and coaches involved with the first Test defeat in South Africa. We have been discussing the game ever since, so it’s interesting to hear what some of the big guns think.
“It is frustrating to be on the wrong end of the result, they didn’t play much rugby, they just kicked the ball but to their credit whatever they did do was effective. We created a lot but we lacked in the first half and that just cost us.”
“We believed we were fitter than them and we believed we could put them to the sword in the last 20 minutes – that was the case, we worked hard we just couldn’t get over the finish line. It is frustrating to lose our first game but we just need to pick ourselves up this week and look forward to the game on Saturday and another chance to win as a Lion. Hopefully we know a bit more about them now and we can get a result.”
“I think our first half discipline gave them too many easy kicks which is where they took the points. When we came in at half time we knew we had a lot in the tank. We’ve played provincial games up to the 80th minute so we knew we could last – we played exceptionally well in the second half and we took the game to them and add a couple of minutes to the end of that half and it could have been a different story.”
“The referee has to referee the game, it was a fierce game, a highly contested game and the decisions have got to go one way or the other. Unfortunately, we had a couple go against us in kickable range and to be fair to the Springboks they took their kicks and got that lead.”
“There is a hell of a character within the squad and the bond between the players is something else but unfortunately we gave them too many soft scores. There are still a lot of positives though and obviously it is going to be tough next week, but we know they are there for the taking.”
“We are lucky, if this was a World Cup final that would be it, the tournament would be over but we are fortunate that we have another opportunity this Saturday to get level in the series. We take a lot of heart from the fact that when we play, we can play some good rugby and cause problems and that is how we have to go into this game.”
“But we have to be honest with ourselves, work hard this week, address areas where we are not so clever at the moment.”
“We are all in the same boat (backs and forwards), the backs have to look at areas of our game where we need to be more clinical and areas that we need to address, yes from a positive we are creating the opportunities but we need to finish them off.”
“I thought we really played rugby and we certainly cut them a few times and crossed the line a few times, but a couple of decisions didn’t go our way. Saying that the Springboks are obviously a tremendous outfit – their forwards are massive guys, they run hard, they have great defence, great line out and great scrum capabilities and this is the best of the best. We are playing against the top guys in the world and it is here that you can judge yourself as a player and it’s just a shame we didn’t get the result.”
“We will be looking very hard at those scrums where we looked so vulnerable in that first half but I must stress it’s not about hanging individuals out to dry, it’s a collective thing and the whole pack have accountability and that’s where I come in and where I have to look at what went wrong.”
“I think the changes that we made sorted it out and in terms of selection – in those eight scrum occasions in that first half three of which we were penalised put us nine points down. That along with our lack of defence of their driving line-out gave us a bit of a mountain to climb, which we nearly climbed and I was delighted with the impact that Matthew Rees and Adam Jones had on that set piece.”
What do you think of their reaction? Mike Phillips was particularly enlightening in saying, ‘I thought we really played rugby’, but the players’ assessments appear to be in line with everyone else’s.
A few more references here to a good spirit within the camp which could be crucial in bouncing back next week, one or two diplomatic references to refereeing decisions and a couple of hints about selection and the fact that the forwards will be doing one or two scrummaging sessions this week.