Portugal’s greatest strength is also their weakness says coach Lagisquet

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2023 - Pool C - Wales v Portugal - Allianz Riviera, Nice, France - September 16, 2023 Portugal head coach Patrice Lagisquet before the match REUTERS/Stephanie Lecocq

NICE, France (Reuters) – As the rugby world lauded Portugal’s players for an energetic performance in their 28-8 loss to Wales on Saturday, there was a tinge of regret for coach Patrice Lagisquet which illustrates the expectation he has for the team.

Portugal were full of running and heart as they troubled Wales throughout the game with ball in hand and might have been closer on the scoreboard had they been more accurate in the opposition 22.

But the result and that of defeats for Uruguay against France (27-12) and debutants Chile versus Samoa (43-10), show tier two teams are not happy just to play on the world stage but expect more.

“Our players’ strength is their enthusiasm but in a sense it’s their weakness too. It’s one of our fragilities and it’s where we need to grow,” Frenchman Lagisquet said.

“I feel pride of course but we knew we would not be disappointing. This is a generous team. Ever since I started coaching them they have surprised me. This is a team that has a lot of virtues.

“But I am frustrated because we gave them (Wales) a few gifts in the first half and we didn’t play rugby the way we are used to. In the second half we showed a bit of face but were lacking a little bit of luck.”

Portugal are at the World Cup for the first time since 2007, and are appearing in only their second global tournament, but while they clearly have plenty of industry, their lack of experience against tier one teams showed in the end.

The question now for World Rugby is how to give tier two teams more opportunities to gain that knowledge.

“We didn’t have enough experienced players. We lacked a bit of clarity on a few actions. When we managed to break through, we didn’t manage to finish. We need to be patient,” Lagisquet said.

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