Hosts France followed up their opening-night triumph over the All Blacks with an underwhelming defeat of Uruguay in their second World Cup match on Thursday, missing out on bonus points as they struggled past a spirited South American side.
Last week’s rip-roaring victory over three-time winners New Zealand was always going to be a hard act to follow for the hosts, but few had expected them to struggle against Uruguay, one of the lowest-ranked teams at the tournament, who put on a defiant spectacle at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille.
France coach Fabien Galthié had made wholesale changes to the home side, opting to rest the likes of Gregory Alldritt, Gael Fickou, Charles Ollivon and captain Antoine Dupont. But he warned his players not to show complacency, noting that Uruguay had “big hearts” and “a lot of energy and aggression”.
That warning turned out to be an understatement.
Uruguay were making their tournament debut in France, four years after they kicked off their 2019 World Cup in Japan with a memorable win over Fiji. While matching that feat on Thursday was an impossible ask, the inspired visitors did give the French a scare, trailing the home favourites by a single point midway through the second half.
The South Americans showed plenty more intent after the break. They were unlucky not to score after Amaya broke the French defensive line and sprinted down the pitch, only to be pinned down at the last.
Read more on FRANCE 24 English
Rugby World Cup organisers apologise for crowd problems, botched anthems
‘Special moment’ for South American rugby as Chile join Argentina and Uruguay at World Cup
France defeat New Zealand All Blacks in historic Rugby World Cup opener