Laidlaw proud of wounded Scotland

Date published: October 18 2015

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw hailed the progress of his team after they lost by a single point in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final with Australia.

Bernard Foley's late penalty was the difference in a 35-34 win for the Wallabies who advance to the final four.

Laidlaw was understandably crestfallen as he addressed the media, who applauded when he and coach Vern Cotter entered the press conference.

"Right at this moment it's hard to take. It's a pretty upset dressing room," Laidlaw said. 

"We've made big strides since the Six Nations and we're one kick away from the semi-finals at the Rugby World Cup and we arguably should have been there. I don't know what to say. We need to get over the disappointment first."

Discussing the decisive call when Scotland were penalised for accidental offside, Laidlaw revealed that he had asked referee Craig Joubert to go upstairs to the TMO to verify the call but also that he wasn't aware of the protocol.

"I never got a chance to speak to him at the end he was off that quick. Where I was it looked like [Nick] Phipps jumped, and I didn't have a perfect view, but it looked like it hit Phipps and went back and we caught it when it was loose ball," he explained.

"At the time I thought it was an Aussie arm, but we're not the type of people to blame little things. If we fix other areas then we might not be in that situation.

"I asked him on several occasions but I don't know what the protocol is [with referring to the TMO].

"You could see he was taking his time looking at the big screen and wasn't sure of himself. He made a sharp exit at the end of the game, that's for sure."

Trying to look at the bigger picture, Laidlaw hailed the advances of his side since this year's Six Nations and also credited Australia for their win, even though he and his squad are set for a painful few weeks processing such a heartbreaking loss.

"This team is different to the Six Nations. We don't want to come close. We've got the makings of a special team here with the youngs player and their qualities. The group has worked so hard and at this point I just don't know what to say," he stated.

"[Australia] are a good team and I'm not going to take that away from them. But our spirit is unbreakable at times and that's been there throughout.

"We're a tight-knit group and there's no egos, every man works as hard as the next. We could have tightened up in a few areas and there were a few turnovers at times which meant we might have held on, but we just got pipped at the death.

"It's going to take a few days, a few weeks to get over this."

Head coach Vern Cotter echoed his captain's thoughts, praising his players' character.

"I feel for these guys. It's a tough day. They stayed in the game, they believed and they fought to the end. I am proud of them, as men and as rugby players," said Cotter.

"The boys fronted up physically and we managed to vary the game to keep up the pressure. They had a plan, they implemented it and showed character and commitment." 

Cotter was unwilling to be drawn on referee Craig Joubert's decision to yellow card Sean Maitland for a deliberate knock-on nor the decision to give Australia a penalty in the dying minutes.

"I think I will take time to review that call at the end of the game properly before we pass comment," said the Kiwi.

"Most of these questions are about the referee. I am not in the referee's position. I think if Sean had caught that ball he would have probably scored. It was a 50-50."