John McKee admits it is unlikely his Fiji Airways Flying Fijians side will progress from the pool stages after Uruguay pulled off a historic victory over the Pacific Islanders on Wednesday.
Los Teros maintained their composure to overcome an early deficit and go on to complete only their third victory on the sport’s biggest stage, and by far their most significant, since making their Rugby World Cup debut 20 years ago.
McKee, who rued Fiji’s poor goal-kicking and several missed opportunities during the 30-27 defeat at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, was frank in assessing his team’s performance, and conceded the result means they are unlikely to stay in touch with Pool D leaders Australia and Wales.
“It is going to be challenging for us,” the New Zealander said. “We are relying a lot on other points now and we just have to focus on our match against Georgia in eight days’ time.
“That is the only focus for us now, to play well in that match and winning the game, and, if we can, securing the bonus point.
“This is the sport that we play and you cannot predict the outcome and great credit must go to Uruguay for how they worked in the game and for each other and to get what is quite a historic result.”
Fiji’s only saving grace may be that they managed to secure two bonus points from the defeat, after replacement scrum-half Nikola Matawalu crossed twice in the last quarter to take the Fiji try tally to five and the team within seven points of their opponents.
Next up, Fiji travel south to face Georgia in Osaka on 3 October before facing Wales in Oita in their final pool fixture on 9 October. The loss to Uruguay compounds their drop outside the top 10 this week. They lie 12th in the men’s World Rugby rankings, one place below Georgia.
“Uruguay played well and better than us but we have to get up again and we need to keep on fighting, whatever happens,” Fiji second-row Leone Nakarawa said.
“We made a lot of mistakes and a lot of errors and they kept capitalising on that. We have to go back and improve on our basics and individual skill and come back in eight days’ time when we play Georgia.”