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USA Players Comment After Losing Out on RWC

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USA Players Comment After Losing Out on RWC

Photo by Martin Dokoupil - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images.

Losing out on the 2023 Rugby World Cup perhaps hasn't sunk in on USA fans, but following the 16-16 tie with Portugal the players tried to offer some perspective.

"I think we all knew what we were going against," said USA prop David Ainu'u. "We knew it was going to be a tough battle. It was tough but the boys did a good job moving onto the next job. It is what it is." 

Effort Level

"I think that if we were in a situation where I didn’t feel like the boys didn’t put in every bit of effort then it would be much worse," said Ainu'u. "But you can't blame the boys; everybody gave everything hey had."

"We stayed in it," added lock Greg Peterson. "We were quite good in the penalty count except the last 20 minutes and it could have gone to either team. We lost chances but we put those out of our mind. We did really well to extinguish negative thoughts and we went from negative to positive quickly."

"We worked extremely hard the last eight weeks; prior to that there was a lot of sacrifice ... to put us in the best possible position to qualify tonight and, listen, it was seconds away from us and Portugal came back," said captain AJ MacGinty. "It's sore but we gave it our best shot. Credit to Portugal for battling back there and working their way up the field but I'm really proud of thw squad, the group."

Moments

There were some key moments and the players discussed a couple of them. The first was when Peterson got close to the tryline only to get penalized for holding on because the clearout was late.

"They had two men over the ball pretty quickly," said Peterson. "They knew we would get to the gain line and they would get guys over the ball and we were half a second late and couldn’t get the cleans right."

The other thing was the penalty on the scrum five meters from the Portugal line. The penalty was a tough one because it would seem in the USA's favor to keep the scrum upright and in Portugal's favor to collapse. 

"The penalty could have gone to either team," said Peterson. "They matched our scrum and mauls and Portugal have made improvements in leaps and bounds. But if the ref gives the penalty you've just got to go with it."

"The last penalty, you can't argue with the refs, they made the call," added Ainu'u.

How Does it Feel?

"The guys are devastated from what it means but still we're proud of the effort we’ve put in the past 34 months," said Bryce Campbell.

"For me, it’s going to hurt," said Ainu'u, who will be in France during the World Cup playing with his club, Toulouse. "For me it’s just better motivation so I can give everything to help the USA."