Special envoy to Nice,
Such a special moment. Play in a World Cup. Portuguese rugby has not had this privilege for 15 years. Tears flowed for players and staff at the time of “A Portuguesa”, the national anthem with the vibrant “As armas, as armas”. Met a few hours before at Place Masséna, drowned in a sea of Welsh supporters, very much the majority later in the Allianz Riviéra as well, Rodrigo, 46 years old, accompanied by his son, Pedro, 12 years old, who plays at the Cascais club, did not did not hide his pride and… his concern: “For us, it is a big event to be present in a final phase. I witnessed our rout against the Blacks in 2007. We have progressed since then but many of our players are amateurs. It could be very difficult against the Welsh. I don't expect a victory. It’s impossible, but I hope we won’t be too ridiculous.” He can be reassured. The Portuguese resisted with panache the Welsh B team, very borrowed in attack, but solid in defense.
Magnificent losers, the Lobos (wolves) succeeded in their first bet. Give a good image of Portuguese rugby. “It’s super important. Most of our players don't play rugby professionally, whispered Tomás Appleton, captain and three-quarter center. It's so great to be here and to play in front of so many fans, to be at this level. We hope to inspire young people, children and future generations to play rugby here. This is our goal. »
Pride but not only that... Like the coach Patrice Lagisquet, Samuel Marques, the scoring scrum half Samuel Marques did not hide his disappointment. “We were in the match until the 60th minute and it was at the end of the first half that we played very badly. We have 20 seconds left, we are strong in touch, we make a bad choice and behind we pay cash against a great team. At 7-3 at halftime, it's no longer the same match. » “We weren't able to show the extent of our game. We're not here to make up the numbers, we want to win matches,” adds Appleton.
Frustrating, especially since the author of the penalty that qualified Portugal against the United States in the repechage was not 100% this Saturday, hampered by a left calf injury: “I took a hit last week, Marques admitted. When you are told that you are going to play in a World Cup, you grit your teeth and you play as best you can. I did what I could, I gave 100%. » In the end, a sad 1 out of 4 in these penalties or transformations for the one who bore his name incorrectly. “I don’t know if it bothered me, but unconsciously I think about it a little,” grimaces the scrum half from Bézier. Whatever happens I have to pass these penalties because I'm not used to missing them. »
Nicknamed “the little Fijis of Europe” by Welsh coach Warren Gatland, the Lusitanians seduced even their evening tormentors. “Portugal put us under pressure, we must admit. They circulated the ball well and impressed me,” said the XV du Poireau technician. The Portuguese will aim for a first success in the World Cup on September 23 in Toulouse against Georgia. To definitely enter history and hearts.