French: Soccer matters less
Cape Town – The French rugby team is not here to hold the hands of their footballing compatriots when they kick off their World Cup campaign against Uruguay at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday.
In fact, the French are actually quite irritated with the football atmosphere ahead of Saturday’s test against the Springboks at Newlands.
A member of the French management team said that he would watch football “if I had no other choice”.
When broadcaster SuperSport requested French coach Marc Lievremont deliver a message of support to the footballers, he replied: “We’re here to play rugby and that is what we’re focusing on.”
Such an attitude may raise some eyebrows, but the Springboks now have more than the visitors’ physical approach and recent history between the sides to worry about.
“It’s always difficult to play against the South Africans. Their forwards are big and powerful, and I’m sure they will be ready for us this time,” French captain Thierry Dusautoir said about the anticipated physical onslaught.
It may well be the French’s psychological preparation that proves decisive at Newlands on Saturday.
Hooker Dimitri Szarzewski told Sport24 that the reason they beat the Springboks regularly is not because they are better, but that “our preparation must be more focused”.
In contrast to the home team’s emphasis of it’s strong Super 14 foundation, the Six Nations champions, with their Heineken Cup finalists, are reluctant to talk it up as a strength. The favourites tag seldom does sportsmen any favours.
And the French aren’t impressed by football fever. With the Boks having the social responsibility to blow vuvuzelas in Bafana Bafana jerseys, it is the kind of distraction that the French wish on them.
The match is an important building block for the Springboks’ World Cup campaign next year.
But the French are not looking that far. “It is important, but there are more important things to focus on now,” said Dusautoir.