Argentina’s head coach Mario Ledesma has issued an apology for his accusatory post-match tirade at the referees following his side’s crucial 23-21 loss at the hands of France.
The frantic final stages saw multiple chances at goal missed from both sides as infringements started to pile up and Ledesma was critical of the referee’s decision-making in the immediate aftermath.
“When the whistle blew, I was left feeling frustrated with the loss, especially considering all the effort and work we put into it, as well as the travel-time where Argentina puts in more than anyone,” he explained to media on Monday.
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“All of that came into my mind and I said things I didn’t mean.
“Particularly from my position, our message from the beginning has always been no excuses, no holding onto things that we cannot control, and my intention was never to imply that we had lost because of the referee.”
“In our press conference, I think we were quite clear in underlining our first 40 minutes, our missed tackles and lost chances.
“I am here to offer an apology to anyone or any organisation that may have taken offence. I try to the best of my ability to uphold rugby’s values as well as my family’s. And that is why I feel hurt when that is questioned.
“I know my place and the example that we must offer. Part of our core is to never offer excuses and to do things properly. That is why I regret my unfortunate remarks and offer an unreserved apology.
“The message for the lads is that it all comes down to one’s actions and to the things that we can control.
Ledesma sought to confirm that he doesn’t believe there is any sort of conspiracy going on to hinder Argentina’s chances.
“I used to work right next to (referee Angus) Gardner it never occurred to me for a second to doubt either him or the other referees, nor question his integrity or impartiality. There is no scheming or anything of the sort going on in the international stage.”
Argentina fought a tremendous comeback after being down 20-3 at halftime to take the lead 21-20 before a Cammy Lopez drop goal edged France in front again.
After flyhalf Romain Ntamack missed a penalty that would have pushed the lead to five points, Argentina were awarded one last chance when Gardner penalised French centre Gael Fickou for an aerial challenge in the 80th minute. Emiliano Boffelli’s long-range shot drifted left and missed.
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