Rugby World Cup 2019: Warren Gatland admits 'the better team lost' after Wales beat France

Wales coach Warren Gatland admitted "the better team lost", after his side beat France 20-19 to reach the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in Tokyo.

Wales only led for six minutes, when Dan Biggar kicked the conversion to Ross Moriarty's try in the 74th minute, after trailling by 12 points early in the match. 

But momentum shifted in the second half, when French lock Sebastien Vahaamahina was sent off for elbowing Welsh flanker Aaron Wainwright in the face. 

Gatland's 12-year-reign as Wales boss will end after the World Cup and the Kiwi-born coach says he was preparing his farewell speech just before Moriarty's try. 

"I think the better team lost today," conceded Gatland. "Hats off to France, because they were excellent and were very unlucky - they have improved since the Six Nations.

"I was going through lots of emotions, thinking about what I am going to be saying in here and on TV. 

"I went through a lot of emotions today, but the thing was to get in at half-time and get some clear messages to the players of what we needed to do in the second half."

Eight years ago, Wales lost 9-8 to France in the World Cup semi-finals in Auckland, after Sam Warburton was red-carded, but in Oita, the tables were turned.

"It is ironic the last time we were in a World Cup, there was a red card and it was a one-point game as well," Gatland added. 

"The officials dealt with it appropriately. I don't think anyone could complain about that - the right decision was made.

"The red card was significant, but it sometimes galvanises teams as well. Rugby is a heat-of-the-moment game and it was an error of judgement, which can happen."

Wales now go on to face South Africa for a spot in the World Cup final. 

"We're excited about where we are - the semi-final of a World Cup. Alun Wyn Jones said it's 240 minutes to do something you'll remember for the rest of your life.

"We're down to 160 now. If you can't get excited about that, then nothing will excite you."

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

Everything you need to know about rugby and the World Cup...

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

Join us at 10pm Sunday for live updates of the Wales v South Africa Rugby World Cup semi-final.

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