A statue for Patrice Lagisquet
SPOTLIGHT: After Portugals’ spectacular and surprising victory over Fiji on Sunday, prop Francisco Fernandes said their coach Patrice Lagisquet should have a statue in Portugal for what he has done for rugby in that country.
Speaking to the media after the game, that Portugal narrowly won 24-23, Fernandes could not contain his feelings.
“Patrice can go and hold his head high. Yes, he’s going to have a statue in Portugal (laughs).
“Pride is the word. There’s nothing stronger. I’m very proud to have made history in this country,” the prop forward said.
He explained that Portugal expected the Fijians would be very physical and was ready for the impact.
“Like in every match, we wait for the first impact, because we know that Fiji are a very, very tough team physically, with a lot of pace. You wait for the first impact, and then you see that you can play two against one, simply by making two tackles. As a result, we saw that it worked.”
Coach Lagisquet indicated that the players have surprised him throughout the World Cup, and they did so one more time, against Fiji.
“I don’t know what to say. I am always afraid of big words but it is a fantastic moment. The players surprised me one more time.
“I knew they were capable of going into the last bit of action but I couldn’t look at the scoreboard. It is not the first time they have played that kind of trick on me.”
What went through his mind when he saw Raffaele Storti cruising to the line with Rodrigo Marta beside him?
“I hoped he would give him [Marta] the ball because during the European Championships he had the ball but he made a mistake. It’s Rodrigo Marta. They have played together since they were six years old. That’s why he maybe gave him the ball.”
He said that final try was the climax of ‘total rugby’.
“This final try corresponded to the team’s DNA. These players are really generous, capable of playing the width of the pitch. The Portuguese championship has less structure but the speed and the width is great, they have fantastic players,” the coach said.
“In four matches they were able to make some progress. They were lacking in the first two. Against Australia they were about to do something pretty good, but today’s match was more accomplished. What is important is the evolution of the team match after match. They play a fast game that is interesting to watch.
“Even though there are key players who might be retiring – Mike, Chico [prop Francisco Fernandes], although he wants to play his 50th match – in the front-row there are great prospects who are already showing good qualities in terms of playing at that high level. It will be tough to replace Sam [Samuel Marques] at this point.
Captain José Lima said four years of work went into that historic match.
“It has been four years of work and for the past year we worked a lot.
“We tried to come back and we scored at the very end today. We could feel that this match was different from the other games we played. It was hard work.
“When we saw all the Portuguese fans behind us it sent shivers down us. This date will go down in history and it is fantastic when you do something that stays forever. We can say that we did it.”
Nicolas Martins, the man of the match, was ecstatic after the game.
“It’s incredible, I have no words. It’s historic, I’m so happy. I think it’s the best moment of my life.”
“We are a team of friends from Portugal but we live together, it’s something incredible.”