Rugby World Cup 2011

France aim to banish '07 demon

2011-10-12 12:51
Thierry Dusautoir after France's semi-final loss in 2007 (AFP)





Auckland - French players involved in the national team's semi-final exit at the last Rugby World Cup have vowed to do their best to prevent it happening again when they meet Wales on Saturday.

Twelve of France's 30 players at this World Cup lived through the disappointment of four years ago on home soil, with nine in the match-day 22 and three in the starting XV: wing Vincent Clerc and flanks Julien Bonnaire and Thierry Dusautoir, who will captain the side at Auckland's Eden Park this weekend.

After pulling off a shock 20-18 victory over favourites New Zealand in the 2007 quarter-final in Cardiff, the French imploded in the semi-final against England, who went on to lose to South Africa in the final.

This time around, France advanced from their pool having suffered defeats by the All Blacks and Tonga, the latter after a shocking display overshadowed by rumours of rifts between management and the players.

They defied the critics by then rebounding to beat England 19-12 in last week's quarter-final, having been knocked out of the last two World Cups by their old rivals.

But the French, losing finalists in 1987 and 1999 but yet to win the World Cup, quickly realised they had to keep a lid on any celebrations.

"We spoke about it as soon as the whistle went," Dusautoir said of the team's achievement of reaching the final four.

"There are many of us in the squad who went through 2007, we know very well what can happen after an excess of euphoria."

Hooker Dimitri Szarzewski added: "We all had enormous regrets after that 2007 match against England. We couldn't wait for the next World Cup.

"We have some problems but we must not let this chance to get into the final escape us."

Centre Aurelien Rougerie said it was a question of the team "coming down from our little cloud" after progressing into the semi-finals.

"I had the opportunity of living through 2007, even off the pitch because I wasn't playing," the Clermont veteran said.

"Against the All Blacks, it was a little like an early final. Afterwards, we were too euphoric, training fell off a little, but it's not at all like that today.

Flanker Bonnaire said the French reaction to reaching the semi-finals this time round was tempered by the knowledge the troubled England side they beat last Sunday were not in the same league as the New Zealand team of four years ago.

"At the time, the All Blacks were unbeaten for a number of matches," he said.

"This time around, we're keeping our feet firmly on the ground with a great desire to continue the adventure."

France coach Marc Lievremont, mirroring the selection policy of predecessor Bernard Laporte in 2007, named an unchanged team for the semi despite concerns over player fatigue.

"It's tough to change a winning team," said Szarzewski.

"Compared to 2007, after the match against the All Blacks, we felt much more done in. Personally, I feel much less exhausted than in 2007."

The hooker, currently plying second fiddle to Toulouse stalwart William Servat, warned the danger now would be to underestimate Wales.

"We've won against them over the last three years but it's not the same team," he said.

"They've had a remarkable run in this World Cup. I've got the impression that it's the best team of the moment."

Bonnaire added: "We know we haven't got there yet. Our goal wasn't a quarter-final, our goal is to be world champions."

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk
 
/Sport
Teams

Pool A

 
 
 
 

Pool B

 
 
 
 

Pool C

 
 
 
 

Pool D

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tank Lanning

Lessons learnt from RWC 2011

2011-10-26 16:45

A few vital life lessons from Tank Lanning's recent trip to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup quarter and semi-finals. Read More

 
Rugby World Cup Wallpapers

Download your favourite RWC wallpaper here

 
Weather

Auckland

Saturday

Mostly sunny. Mild.

Low
High

13°C
17°C

Current Conditions
 
Vote

Taking into account where it will be held, the likely player retirements and new coaches in charge, which team looks best-placed to mount a challenge to the All Blacks at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England?

 
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.