BRISBANE: French coach Fabien Galthie said his side’s thrilling three-match tour of Australia showed the depth of rugby in France heading into the 2023 World Cup to be played on home soil.
Wallabies flyhalf Noah Lolesio kicked a 76th-minute penalty to give a 14-man Australia a 33-30 victory Saturday night and allow them to clinch the series 2-1.
The tourists had a chance to level the scores right at the death, but opted not to attempt a 45-metre penalty from out wide, instead going for a match-winning try.
However, Australian lock Darcy Swain disrupted the rolling maul off the line-out and the Wallabies, who had winger Marika Koroibete controversially sent off in the fifth minute, clinched the closely-fought series. “We said to ourselves before the match, if we have one last chance, we wanted to go for the win,” French captain Anthony Jelonch said.
“At 50 meters, in the corner, (to attempt the penalty) was complicated.
“We regret nothing.”
Galthie said he was immensely proud of the French squad, who came to Australia missing a host of first choice players who took part in the Top 14 final and were unable to travel due to Covid quarantine restrictions.
“The players who got on the plane with us brought honour to the blue jersey, to their clubs, to their families,” he said.
“They grew up, each in their own way. They brought everything they could bring in this short period of time to build a competitive French team.
“We felt it in training, we knew that we could compete and that we would still be able to do it today.”
The French coach said the most pleasing aspect of the tour was the way the younger players were able to compete with the Wallabies right to the end, despite a torrid series during which only three points separated the two teams.
Australia won the first Test 23-21 and France the second 28-26.
“What I find very positive, is that we were in the game for this last match right to the end,” Galthie said.
“(But) there is still a long way to go. We have a lot of very interesting information that will lead us to continue to progress. This France group feeds on emulation, players will push each other to wear this jersey.
“It’s an incredible experience that we have just lived with three Tests in ten days, plus 14 days of quarantine, with this brand new French team under construction.”