Your faithful reporter missed the post-game media conferences after the U.S. loss to Japan. The game ended at 21:35 (as they say over here), and the last train to Oxford and the apartment left at 21:59. So there wasn’t really any choice about it unless Kathy and I wanted to sleep in the Gloucester streets overnight.
We rushed to the train station.
So the quotes here of what was said at the media conference come from the Rugby World Cup media site.
You will see that USA Head Coach Mike Tolkin is optimistic to the end, which may not sit well with some readers. I have said in earlier posts that I was skeptical about such optimism and whether it was justified given that the Eagles did not win a game or earn a bonus point in the Rugby World Cup standings. U.S. rugby fans keep being told to look ahead four years to the next World Cup, and judging from Facebook comments on earlier posts quoting Tolkin, that is no longer satisfactory.
I report here the quotes from the Rugby World Cup. That doesn’t mean I agree with them, as seems to have been the impression of an earlier post.
On where the match was lost:
“It was pretty clear we made some simple errors,” Tolkin said, “and whenever we scored we allowed Japan straight back into the game. We had momentum and then let it slip at critical times which was disappointing today.”
On the development of tier-two nations:
“I think it’s certainly a big stepping stone; the margins of victory have been far lower than previous tournaments. There haven’t been the massive blowouts in certain games and every game has been tough, so I think it will be interesting to see what happens in 2019 with tier-two teams.”
On his team’s World Cup performance:
“I think it has been the best we’ve ever performed. We have been consistent in every game and showed moments of brilliance and periods of good play, unfortunately our game management and other areas let us down.”
I thought Chris Wyles, the team captain against Japan, had a more realistic and pragmatic outlook. Here are his quotes from the Rugby World Cup media site:
On the team’s performance against Japan and the tournament overall:
“It came down to consistency, which is the story of our World Cup. Playing some good rugby, but not for the full 80. Credit to Japan, it shows what you can do if you have four years to prepare.
“We were in it against Samoa, good first half against Scotland, and showed some glimpses tonight against Japan. Disclpline throughout has been an issue for us, pushing the boundaries when we need to stay composed.
“No excuses, but it’s difficult with some of our guys playing domestic rugby in the States, and we need to find a way to get everyone on to a level playing field.”
On the ability of USA to compete at a higher level in future:
“There is a lot of talk about our potential, and it is up to us to find the formula to make that happen. We haven’t come away with a win, and we had one win at the last World Cup. So we have to find that formula.”
On being involved in the first try against Japan, and scoring a try himself:
“Any time you play in a World Cup it’s an amazing experience – until you’ve played in one you won’t understand it. But you want to win, not just take to the pitch and lose games against the top teams. So we’ve got four years in front of us to prepare for the next one.”
So now it is on to the quarter finals with Australia and Wales from Pool A meeting South Africa and Scotland from Pool B; New Zealand and Argentina from Pool C meeting Ireland and France from Pool D. Should be some good games in there. We will be at six of them.