Namibia were left licking their wounds after a humiliating 96-0 defeat against France at the Rugby World Cup on Thursday, while the French nation is anxiously awaiting news on whether their inspirational captain Antoine Dupont will still be able to play in the tournament.
Dupont was taken to hospital after fracturing his jaw in a clash of heads with Namibian captain Johan Deysel, which also resulted in a red card for Deysel, bringing his world cup campaign to an end.
“I would like to extend my best wishes to Antoine Dupont. Clearly, I meant no harm,” Deysel said in a statement the day after the match.
“Everything happened so quickly, and I couldn’t get my head out of the way quick enough, resulting in a head clash. I know the rules and immediately knew that I was at fault. I spoke with (French) coach Fabien Galthie immediately after the match and sent my best wishes and apologies to Antoine both personally and via the France team doctor. He is a great player and person and I wish him a speedy recovery,” he added.
Deysel’s apology restored some respect and integrity to himself, his team and his nation, but they will now have to move on quickly from the French ‘horror movie’ if they hope to beat Uruguay in their final match on Wednesday, according to Namibia coach Allister Coetzee.
“This has been a bit of a horror movie. You’ve got to get it out the way as quickly as possible and focus on the next one. When we get the result next week, this will probably be forgotten and it’s mission accomplished for us. The sooner we start focusing on the next one, the better,” he was quoted as saying by World Rugby after the match.
“I must say it’s definitely hurting, a bit of humiliation from our side. I can see the players are really hurting tonight. I don’t know if the occasion was too big; [we were] completely out of system, out of structure. Every little poor kick or mistake got punished, and this is what you can expect from a quality side like the French. You make a mistake, you’re behind the poles.
“We couldn’t punch. When we had the ball we coughed it up. Simple basics weren’t good enough tonight,” he added.
It was France’s biggest ever world cup victory, breaking their previous record of 87-0, also against Namibia in 2007, but in hindsight, it was to be expected.
Namibia did not select many of their first choice players, being rested for the Uruguay match, while France did, after their second-stringers laboured to an unconvincing 27-12 victory in their previous match against Uruguay.
Namibia were completely outclassed as France turned on the style, scoring 14 tries in a brilliant display of champagne rugby.
Damian Penaud opened the scoring after six minutes, finishing off a great crosskick by Dupont and from then on it was one-way traffic as France ran in some superb tries.
Namibia did surprisingly well according to the match statistics, winning 48 percent of the possession, but their attacks were a bit one-dimensional, while the French made full use of their opportunities, executing at speed and displaying great vision and creativity.
France had the upper hand in the scrums and lineouts, while they won the mauls 6-1, and the turn-overs 8-3, while Namibia missed 32 tackles compared to only 12 by the French.
Namibia will now have to regroup and focus on their final match against Uruguay, where a victory will do a lot to erase the disappointment of the French fiasco.