The explosion of joy from the Rouge et Vert as well as the anthem echoed by the public and the players shortly after the final whistle testify to the historic nature of the moment. The Portugal team achieved its first success in the Rugby World Cup on Sunday October 8, beating Fiji (24-23) in Toulouse.
Throughout a very lively and pleasant match, nothing distinguished the regulars of the world competition that are the Fijians from the almost novice Portuguese, who were only playing their second World Cup. We had to wait until the last minutes for the exciting meeting to decide its winner.
Eliminated but valiant, the Lusitanians wanted to end their tournament on a good note and they did not make things easy for the Flying Fijians, who, thanks to the defensive bonus point, can still enjoy their third qualification for the quarterfinals. final after the 1987 and 2007 tournaments – in the process confirming the elimination of Australia, which finished in third place in Group C.
Simon Raiwalui’s men, who face England on Sunday in Marseille, needed just a point to overtake the Wallabies and send the double world champions back to their island. They did not go beyond this necessary point, the Portuguese, coached by the Frenchman Patrice Lagisquet, keen to confirm everything positive that they had hinted at against Wales (8-28), Georgia (18-18) or Australia (14-34).
“The start of something big”
“We made history, everyone will remember that it’s us and that’s forever”enjoyed after the match, José Lima, the Portuguese captain. “Today we are here, we finish with a draw and a victory, it’s something wonderful, but I hope it’s not the end but the beginning, the beginning of something great”he added.
The Fijian coach paid them saluting tribute “a very great match” of the Portuguese. “Against England, it will be a completely different match, we have to do what we know how to do well”he added.
Portugal, offensive and attractive, matched the physical players of the Fijian selection who came up against an iron defense and a team just as playful as them.
It was ultimately winger Rodrigo Marta, future player of Colomiers Rugby (French second division), a few kilometers from the Toulouse Stadium, who allowed Portugal to win at the wire (78e) in this fortieth and final match of the group stages of the world tournament. This memorable victory also marks, as a culmination, the end of the international career of several Lobos players.
Serious against Australia but undermined by Georgia and now defeated by a country just emerging on the world rugby scene, Fiji nevertheless continues on its way but will have to show something else to hope to triumph in their quarter-final of ‘English who have so far only shown relative solidity.