Lyn Jones conceded his side were handed a rugby lesson at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday, as Stade Francais put London Welsh to the sword in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
The two-time Heineken Cup finalists and 2011 Challenge Cup runners up ran in nine tries in a 68-19 win, as the Exiles’ European debut turned into a nightmare. Jones pulled no punches in his assessment of the game.
“It was a healthy rugby lesson from a very efficient Stade Francais side,” he said. “It verged on a level of embarrassment as the game went on. The players are just that in the changing room.
“We knew today was going to be a huge challenge for our boys and Stade Francais would have to play badly for us to register a victory, but that wasn’t to be. They played well and our mistakes right from the outset set the tone on the game.”
Missed tackles cost London Welsh dear, as did turnover ball, against a Stade Francais in clinical mood.
“You’ve got to be disciplined in your defensive organisations and when people step up, step in and step around it makes it easy for the attacking side. We were all over the shop in defence today and failed to offer any discipline,” said Jones.
“When Stade had a penalty they came to life and got excited, while we switched off and fell asleep.
“It’s never pleasurable losing so badly. It wasn’t the defeat - it was the manner of it, the way we defended was the concern. There was a lot of good in our game, believe it or not, and we saw lots of improvement in certain areas but we couldn’t support it and back it up.”
The positives for Jones were the performance of Gavin Henson, making just his second competitive start for the Exiles, with the number ten landing one audacious penalty from his own half.
“Gavin Henson was excellent and held us together, and there were one or two other individual performances where boys stood up. But overall, whether that was a half strength Stade Francais side or what, it was a difficult day for some players,” he added.
“There were two world class goal kickers on the field today – Gavin and Felipe Contepomi.”
Welsh now head to Club I Cavalieri next Saturday knowing that they face an uphill task if they are to reach the knock out stages. For Jones, though, it’s an opportunity to be recognised.
“Every time someone puts on a London Welsh jersey he’s out there challenging and working towards becoming a first choice player,” he said.
“If they turn that opportunity down then so be it. It will be the same next week – another 15 players will have the opportunity to show what they can do.”