By Thomas Larroquette
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Dejected, disappointed but proud, here are the feelings felt by the Algerian players and leaders the day after their elimination in the semi-finals of the Rugby Africa Cup against Kenya (36-33). Yet theAlgeria did more than resist Kenyan power. Had they qualified, the brothers’ teammates WalkingJulien and Benjamin could have found themselves in Pool A of the 2023 World Cup in France, alongside the XV of France, New Zealand, Italy and Uruguay.
Yassine Boutemmanileft pillar of the XV with the two Lions and player of Soyaux-Angouleme (promoted to Pro D2), as well as Mathieu Loreefly-half of Algeria and Pleasant (National 1) come back for Actually Rugby on this elimination and this cruel disappointment.
“We gave it our all”
Algeria believed in it until the end on the lawn of the Pierre-Delort stadium in Marseille. The coach’s men Ousmane Mane had managed to equalize (21-21) and camped in the last 20 Kenyan meters at the end of the match. Despite their best efforts, they will not play the final of the Africa Rugby Cup against Namibia and will therefore not see the 2023 World Cup in France.
“This morning, waking up was very complicated… We thought it was a bad nightmarebut the reality is there! That’s how it is, it’s the law of sport, ”explains the opener Mathieu Loreebefore continuing:
We failed on a few points. It’s very frustrating and very difficult to describe, especially for all the sacrifices that the families, players, staff and federation have made during these years. We gave everything until the last second, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. We are all very disappointed, but we hope to have given a good image of Algerian rugby which is starting to develop.
Thanks to a powerful pack led by well-known experienced players from the French championship, such as Johan Aliouat (Biarritz), Issam Hamel (Nevers) or Yassine Boutemmani (Soyaux-Angoulême), the Algerians often shook the solid Kenyans, but were sanctioned by the individualities of the Simbas (the nickname of the Kenyans): “I think this match was within our reach. We dominated them in front, but they had strong individualities. They were very explosive, as most of their players come from Rugby 7s, so they easily broke tackles and scored almost 0 assist tries. They won, we must congratulate them, ”adds Boutemanni.
Looking to the future
There will still be one last match for Algeria in this Rugby Africa Cup. The North African selection will face the Zimbabwe for the small final, synonymous with third place. The latter bowed to the Namibia (34-19) Wednesday. If frustration eats away at people’s minds, Algerians want to be optimistic for the future:
We hope the selection will continue to grow day by day! We would like to thank all the people who have supported us, sent messages during the past few weeks, because it has given us a lot of strength. We will do everything to get this 3rd place.
The Yassin Boutemmani pillar, passed through the Toulouse StadiumIUBB, Dax and Perpignan is also optimistic and calls on all players likely to play for Algeria to join them: “We have a young federation, it’s really extraordinary. We are growing little by little. You should know that we were 90e in the world ranking before this tournament and there we went up to be part of the African top 4. I invite all the dual nationals of Top 14, Pro D2 or elsewhere, to come to this selection”. An XV of the two Lions which jumped 8 places in the World Rugby ranking and was at 82e world rank, last Monday, just after his historic qualification in the semi-finals of the Rugby Africa Cup.
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