Rugby-Namibia overawed then overwhelmed in Marseille bearpit

  • Rugby
  • Friday, 22 Sep 2023

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2023 - Pool A - France v Namibia - Orange Velodrome, Marseille, France - September 21, 2023 France's Baptiste Couilloud in action REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) - Namibia's young and desperately inexperienced team were still getting used to the noise rolling down from almost 64,000 French fans when they started shipping tries on Thursday, and they then proved horribly unable to turn off the tap.

Eighty minutes later they had conceded 14 of them in a 96-0 World Cup thrashing as France chalked up their biggest-ever victory in front of a delirious Marseille crowd.

"A tough night at the office and in a way a bit humiliating," said Namibia coach Allister Coetzee.

"I could see in the first 20 minute the boys were a bit flustered. Maybe the occasion was too big as some players were doing things really out of character and not sticking to the plan and that's just pressure.

"Every poor kick got punished, we couldn’t put pressure on and when we had the ball we coughed it up. Our basics weren’t good enough tonight and the players are really hurting."

Namibia were already dead and buried by halftime as they trailed 54-0 but things got worse five minutes after the restart when captain Johan Deysel was sent off for a high hit on Antoine Dupont that left the France scrumhalf with a suspected fractured cheekbone that could end his tournament.

It was a double blow as Divan Rossouw had just scored an interception try that was ruled out after the TMO's intervention.

"It could have been 54-7 and a bit of a momentum," Coetzee said.

"It's a shame but this is where the game is going. It was so quick, Dupont's not the tallest guy and Johan is an absolutely clean player and a great defender. He's a brave player, the glue of the team. He feels like he let the team down but not at all. He’s cut up at the moment but we will support him."

Despite Deysel's absence, Coetzee said there was enough leadership in the squad to help them forget "this horror movie" and prepare for their last game against fellow outsiders Uruguay.

"We have to regroup from this and our objective is still alive: to win one game at the World Cup," he said.

"The sooner we start focusing on the next game, the better."

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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