Boks shaken by ‘unacceptable’ loss

‘Nobody has hit better than me this week’ – Koepka on his ball-striking during third round

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer and captain Jean de Villiers faced the media after their stunning World Cup loss to Japan in Brighton.

Attempting to make sense of a devastating start to their campaign to try and win a third Rugby World Cup, the duo somberly assessed a defeat that, while not undeserved, still came out of the blue.

"Obviously we're disappointed. All credit to Japan. They kept going right until the end and we just weren't good enough," Meyer told reporters. 

"We knew they were going to be tough, but we concentrated more on how we were going to play. There were just too many penalties, we didn't get any go forward or quick ball.

"We represent a proud nation and we let them down. It's just not good enough. We have to take it on the chin. Getting back on track is not going to be easy and this is a big setback. We'll have to be better to go through to the next round.

"We should have mauled better – we had one great maul and scored from that. We just took wrong decisions throughout the whole game. They were really up for it and like I said we just couldn't get going. We've been warned all week that they're a good side and now sitting here, it's a below par performance and unacceptable.

"We probably showed them too much respect and should have played more rugby.

"We lost the kicking duel. They've beaten us and deserve all the credit, but we should have counter-attacked more. They went for a 50-50 at the end and scored. They could have gone for the draw, but they showed a lot of character. 

"It's a very very big wake up call for us. There's no easy games. I said before the tournament that it was the toughest World Cup ever, so now we have to pull together. As the coach I have to take responsibility and it's going to take a huge effort on and off the field to get back on track."

De Villiers echoed the sentiments of his coach while suggesting that the team couldn't have done anything different in training and that their failure was down to execution.

"I thought our concentration and the way we responded on the field was good at times. This is just one of those performances where we can't put our finger on why we lost and we were beaten by a better team on the dayl" said de Villiers.

"Credit to Japan for the way they stuck it out until the end. As players we need to take responsibility, because that was way below par for us and the performances that we set ourselves. It really is difficult to say where it went wrong but overall it wasn't enough. 

"Once we got our shape going I thought we were quite good at times. The way they defended, they chopped us low and stopped us in our tracks.

"It's more situational, we're lost for words to describe that performance.

"I've got a massive role to play now as does the whole leadership group. We can sit here and talk about what went wrong, but it's not acceptable by our standards.

"I don't want to take anything away from Japan because I think it's a fantastic day for them having beaten us.

"Looking from our point of view, we can't make any excuses. It's not going to get any easier against Samoa. We couldn't have trained any better or done anything differently, so it comes down to the way we performed."

Rounding off a difficult press conference, De Villiers added that the experience of Eddie Jones have worked with the Springboks in the past during their 2007 Rugby World Cup triumph had contributed.

"It had an influence. Eddie's a very experienced coach and credit to him," he said.

"We thought we had prepared brilliantly, we just made too many mistakes and couldn't get in the right positions enough times."