Sam Warburton casts a forlorn figure after being sent off against France/
The harsh red card issued by referee Alain Rolland to Wales's young skipper Sam Warburton, cost Wales a place in the World Cup final according to coach Warren Gatland.
Irish referee Rolland sent off Warburton for a dangerous tackle in the 9-8 semi-final loss to France at Eden Park.
Gatland admitted Warburton deserved to be penalised for illegally lifting France winger Vincent Clerc but Gatland felt the referee made a mistake by issuing the Welsh captain a red card.
"Having looked at it, we accept it that he lifted him and it warrants a yellow card, but he doesn't drive him into the ground," said Gatland.
"The thing that surprised me was the referee's instinct. I thought an experienced referee would bring in to the two touchies (assistant referees) and have a chat then make a judgement."
Warburton said he had no intention of driving the French speedster into the ground.
"I am obviously gutted with the red card. There was nothing malicious. There was no intent. I thought it was a normal tackle and the next thing you know I'm walking off into the stands."
Wales defensive coach Shaun Edwards added: "I think it's a travesty for the competition because the team that should be playing next Sunday isn't," he said. "(But) in times like this it's important to keep your dignity and not to say what you think."
"When you get two quality teams and one team goes down to 14 men then the other team should win the game comfortably," Gatland said.
"But we had some shots at goal and a conversion that gave us a chance and I can't be more proud of our guys in terms of what they achieved when they were down to 14 men inside the first 20 minutes.
"We've got to take it on the chin, it's no discredit to France because they didn't make the decision ...in credit to them they defended well. Our players ran themselves into the ground with 14 men, you can't ask for any more."
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.
The WRU has launched a campaign to create a long term legacy for Welsh club rugby by highlighting the advantages of volunteering. Rhian Edwards, a volunteer at Seven Sisters, has enjoyed many benefits of her volunteering at a grassroots rugby club including being part of the Rugby World Cup volunteer workforce after being nominated by the WRU - and the WRU is asking for more people to develop their 'Welsh rugby roots'.