France losing the rugby World Cup quarter-final to South Africa by one point is a scar the team will carry for the rest of their lives but they are building a side that will be stronger in the 2027 edition, coach Fabien Galthie said on Wednesday.
Hosts France topped their pool with a perfect record of four wins but their hopes of a maiden title went up in smoke in the knockout stage when they were beaten 29-28 by eventual champions South Africa.
Galthie said he wanted to let the World Cup run its course and give the squad time to “mourn” a disappointing end to the tournament after four years of hard work before speaking to the press.
“Four years of consistent progress, the only objective was to be world champion. The disappointment would have been the same if we’d lost by one point in the semi-final or final,” Galthie told reporters.
“When you play for the French team at a World Cup, you have to be ready to win but also to live through what you’ve been through. There’s only one team that’s really been through a lot: the world champions.
“We’ll be scarred for life and that’s part of our journey. We’ve all been through a kind of introspection, first personally and then collectively, about what we’ve been through.”
South Africa also beat both England in the semi-finals and New Zealand in the final by one point to lift the trophy.
Galthie said they analysed the quarter-final loss — only their second defeat in 26 home tests under the 54-year-old — and added that if he had a second chance, he would still employ the same strategy.
“One point is nothing, but one point is everything,” he said.
“Tactically, I’d use the same strategy if I had to do it all over again… Despite the facts of the game and the match scenario, our aim was to play for the win right up to the last action, whatever happened.”
However, Galthie was optimistic about their chances for the 2027 World Cup which will be held in Australia.
“When we put the team together after the (2019) World Cup in Japan, we had a squad with an average age of 24. Against South Africa, our average age was 27,” he said.
“In four years’ time, if the team stays the same, the average age will be 31. Depending on turnover, our collective experience could increase by two years and 20 caps.
“From that point on, I think the team will be stronger than the one that lost by one point to South Africa.” REUTERS
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