‘Scars for life’: Loss to Springboks haunts France centre Jonathan Danty after World Cup

France’s demoralising Rugby World Cup exit in the quarter-finals by one point to South Africa has left deep scars for what was arguably the best-ever French side.

Boosted by home ground advantage during the showpiece event, expectations were high for France inside and outside the playing group.



They were expected to make-up for the heartbreak of three World Cup final losses to become the first Les Bleus side to be crowned world champions.

Star inside centre Jonathan Danty, who returned from injury in time for the quarter-final, revealed that he couldn’t take any time off before rejoining La Rochelle in the Top 14.

The pain of the defeat to the Springboks was too much to sit around and do nothing, with Danty preferring to get back into action to release “frustrations”.

“I had sent the message to Ronan, after the World Cup, that I didn’t particularly need a vacation and that I wanted to start again a little earlier than planned,” he told French publication Sud-Ouest.

“In the end, he left me no choice, I started again last Monday and I think he was right, it allowed me to release a lot of frustration.

“It’s stupid to say, but I couldn’t do it [vacation] for four months. I couldn’t move on because there were scars for life.

“When we see that some former players are still talking about 2011 [Rugby World Cup]…

“We lost a Top 14 final with La Rochelle, that also matters, but it’s even more the case with a World Cup, which only happens every four years.”

Danty’s international career took off after joining La Rochelle in 2021, despite having his international debut in 2016, he became a regular starter for Fabian Galthie in this World Cup cycle.

The early exit has become even more difficult to accept since he disclosed that the players were “pushed to their limits” for this campaign.

“I acknowledge that the physical preparation was challenging; we were tested to the brink of our capabilities, and that’s what made us prepared,” he said.

“It was my first World Cup, and I went through two phases of it: the group stage, where we knew that if everything went according to plan, we would place first or second, but we also knew that the quarterfinals would be the most difficult.

We had to halt there regrettably; it was difficult to accept.

“I believe some of us more than others, but all in all, this premature withdrawal from the competition was difficult for us all.

“I’ve only seen the game again once, and every time I do, I feel virtually exactly the same as I did when it was first happening.

“Sadly, it’s over, and the next one will be in four years, and it will be much more difficult for me.”

Despite the difficulties he will have in trying to qualify for a second World Cup in 2027, the 31-year-old has refused to rule out retiring from international competition following the heartbreaking World Cup loss.

Danty will be available for France “as long as they want me,” but he will defer to the coaches on this one.

“I worked so hard to achieve my goals and represent my country because I really wanted it. I will say stop when they ask me to go and I can no longer be at their level, but until then, if I can continue to be on the ground and someone calls on me, I will be there.

Jonathan Sexton performed, but not in the same capacity, until he was 38 years old. Although he is more in the distribution, I truly appreciate him as a player.

“And then, when I’m 33, there are young people in my position with a lot of qualities who are going faster already and will go even faster than me.”

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