Rugby World Cup – highlights from day 21
Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui showed his class after his side were beaten by Portugal in one of the Rugby World Cup’s biggest upsets. The manager entered the victor’s dressing room after the match to offer his congratulations, in a gesture that was praised by the Portugal squad.
In an end-to-end encounter, Portugal ran out 24-23 winners at the Stadium de Toulouse in a historic night for the nation as they recorded their first-ever win in the competition. Fiji will still progress to the quarter-finals of the competition regardless, and they will face England next Sunday.
Portugal looked set to taste defeat once more in France as they trailed 23-17 late on, but Rodrigo Marta emerged as the hero as he converted late to turn the match on its head and send supporters into a frenzy both in the stadium and at home.
Fiji head coach Raiwalui will have to ensure that his squad can quickly overcome the disappointing nature of the defeat, as well as physically recover from a gruelling encounter that relied on his team being full of energy until the final whistle sounded.
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However, that was far from his priority in the aftermath of the match as he wanted to ensure that Portugal were duly praised for their performance and personally commended. Raiwalui entered the victor’s dressing room after the match to congratulate fellow manager Patrice Lagisquet for guiding his side to a historic success, who responded by wishing Fiji the best for the rest of the tournament.
Raiwalui also shook hands with several players before offering them a gift, a bag full of kit from Fiji players and other memorabilia for the squad to share among themselves. The Portugal players responded with a round of applause, in what was a touching moment that has since been shared on social media.
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Speaking after the match, an emotional Lagisquet said: “It’s unbelievable, the players always find resources I never expect. The way they could score, it’s amazing. Even if we work a lot to be able to do things like that, they still surprise me after four years. it is an incredible group, an incredible team and they are players who are really talented.
“It couldn’t be better (to leave the tournament with a win). I am so lucky to train a squad like this one. I am so lucky to finish with this victory, it’s a great moment.”
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