French 'bashing' intensifies

2011-10-21 10:34

Auckland - A France team derided as the "worst" side ever to reach a Rugby World Cup final found itself under fresh attack on Friday, just two days out from the showpiece match against hosts New Zealand.

The New Zealand Herald devoted the front page of its sports section to two articles, one entitled 'A History of Gallic Brutality' highlighting several examples of French foul play dating back to the 1960s, and the other 'Beware the filth of the French', a column by former All Blacks captain Wayne 'Buck' Shelford.

In 1986, Shelford played for New Zealand in the notorious 'Battle of Nantes', a brutal encounter where he suffered a torn scrotum in a match France won 16-3.

Even though rugby union is now a professional sport, with extensive television coverage, Shelford suggested France, who scraped through to Sunday's Eden Park final after a 9-8 semi-final win over Wales, might resort to desperation tactics.

"Beware French skulduggery - that's my warning to the All Blacks for the Rugby World Cup final," said Shelford, who played for New Zealand in their win over France in the inaugural 1987 final.

"France is on a face-saving mission in this final and desperate times bring out desperate measures," added Shelford of a team that in 1999 and 2007 knocked New Zealand out of the World Cup.

"The fact is, they have resorted to some filth in past World Cups, including eye gouging, and there were cameras around then. They certainly did it in 1999, and there was probably a bit going on in 2007 as well.

"I'm not saying this will definitely happen, but if it does, the All Blacks will need to sort it out right away because the referee will not always be able to see what's going on," added Shelford.

Some might see Shelford's comments as an attempt to put pressure on South Africa's Craig Joubert, who will be in charge of Sunday's match.

"As to how to sort it out, well, how do you think? That's all I'll say there," added Shelford, who knocked out Wales's Huw Richards after a flare-up in the 1987 semi-final that ended with Richards being sent off.

But France hooker William Servat said in response: "I'm not sure we are such bad boys. I'm not sure that in this (French) team there are these big 'barbarians' like they (the media) say.

"You get the Englishmen who get the chambermaids in their room and the All Blacks who go out the night before a game, so I'm not sure we're the most badly behaved boys," he added in a reference to off-field incidents at this World Cup.

Shelford's remarks elicited a mixed response amongst those posting comments on the Herald's website, with Mike Holt writing: "What a pathetic attempt at journalism. This team and their supporters are guests in our country. Very Embarrassing. Go the All Blacks. Shame on the Herald."

But 'nzfan' of Auckland said: "Great Buck. I am so glad that you brought this subject up. It's happened in the past and it could happen again."


  • Fanie - 2011-10-21 11:44

    Nog 'n All Black already trying to get excuses even before the match. Play the game !!

      Phil - 2011-10-21 15:22

      What is your excuse then Fanie is all the fault of the REF!! The Kiwis have been consitsently the best team in the world for years ....the Boks ? Losers.

  • Kosie - 2011-10-21 12:21

    their is nobody that plays dirtier than the allblacks, with their deliberate obstruction at breakdown,constant offside, mccaw playing on the ground and offside, ali williams constantly tripping players, SBW no arms in the tackle and nonu, and i can carry on....

  • Michael - 2011-10-21 12:26

    Torn Scrotum!! hahhahhahaaa

  • Barry - 2011-10-21 12:46

    The Sliver Ferns cannot try to win on the field. They need to insult their opposition publicly with help from the NZ media How low can NZ get ...surely not much lower

      EJ - 2011-10-21 14:17

      not as low as Bok fans harrassing Bryce on the phone

      Barry - 2011-10-21 14:36

      @EJ pathetic

  • Francois - 2011-10-21 13:42

    Vat hulle Franse vat hulle

  • Brent - 2011-10-21 14:04

    Wheres the fairplay? So this is the way to make foreiners feel welcome in their country... WOW

  • Eugene - 2011-10-22 03:13

    I'm embarrassed to have held Buck in such high regard....1986 gee, these french guys must have been toddlers.But we understand the mind games with regards to what the French have done to the silver ferns in the past.I also understand where his brains are because after that scrotum tear,hes been prone to rambling on about who knows what.

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