Wales 8-9 France, Rugby World Cup, October 15, 2011
Welsh support garners high praise
October 15, 2011
Fans pack the Millennium Stadium for Wales' semi-final against France © PA Photos
Carwyn Jones, the first minister of Wales, has praised the passion shown by the 60,000 fans who flooded the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to watch Saturday's Rugby World Cup semi-final against France.
Jones was among 61,543 Wales supporters to pack the national stadium for the game, won 9-8 by France after Wales skipper Sam Warburton was controversially sent-off by referee Alain Rolland.
Wales rallied in the second-half thanks to a try from scrum-half Mike Phillips, but were denied by three penalties from Morgan Parra, leaving the fans at home and abroad disappointed.
"[It was] fantastic, I don't think there is any other country in the world where you would get 60,000 fans turn up to watch the game on a big screen," Jones said.
"They will be disappointed but they will also be proud of what the team has achieved. It's easier to watch a game like that with a big crowd because the disappointment is shared, if I was in the house I think I would be a bit less coherent than I am now."
Jones praised Wales' efforts, but criticised the decision to red card Warburton, who had been to that point one of the players of the tournament.
"Obviously we are disappointed to lose by just one point. The game was wrecked early on in the first half, but I am very proud of the boys for their performance," he said. "I think another few minutes and we would have won, but we lost a few too many line-outs and missed a few too many kicks. France played like England used to play years ago, they were tough to break down and obviously we have seen the result.
"I thought our fitness would tell in the end, just a few things went the wrong way and that's the way the game goes. I thought Sam was unlucky, I thought it was a penalty, it was a clumsy tackle and a yellow card, but not a red card. The game was destroyed from that point on.
"I think it was the wrong call, it's not easy being a referee but I thought Alain Rolland got that wrong. But referees are human, they are not perfect and on this occasion it was the wrong decision, it did wreck the game but despite that the boys refused to lie down."
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