WAL AUS 18 - 21

It was nothing malicious - Warburton

It was nothing malicious - Warburton

Painful exit: Wales

Red-carded captain Sam Warburton said his tackle on Vincent Clerc was not malicious as fourteen-man Wales bowed out of the RWC on Saturday.

Warburton was sent-off with eighteen minutes played in Auckland for a tip-tackle on Clerc, which has left many seeing the offence as only yellow.

France won 9-8 in the end thanks to three Morgan Parra penalties while Wales responded via James Hook and a second-half Mike Phillips try.

“Obviously I’m gutted about the red card but it was nothing malicious,” said Warburton afterwards.

“As soon as I hit him his body weight controlled what happened, I went to compete for the ball afterwards thinking it was a normal tackle and the next thing I know I was walking off. All the boys are gutted about the result but they showed courage and bravery throughout.”

Meanwhile, head coach Warren Gatland was also left ‘gutted’ about referee Alain Rolland’s decision and questioned why the official did not communicate with his two assistants.

“He is not a dirty player so what’s the point in spoiling a semi-final by giving him a red card. I am absolutely gutted about it,” he said.

“But we showed great character and if we’d have slotted a goal we might have won the game. But we were down a man against world-class opposition and the fact we had a chance to win just shows the character of our players. I’m really proud of them.

“It’s sad but we can’t come to just one tournament and do well, we have to kick on all year and hopefully there will be other opportunities to reach a final with these players. We have to respond, take it on the chin.”

By Adam Kyriacou at Eden Park

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