Pape: France must be fearless

2011-10-20 08:42

Auckland - France must face the All Blacks without fear and produce their best performance of the tournament if they are to have any hope of an upset in Sunday's Rugby World Cup final, according to lock Pascal Pape.

The French have stuttered throughout the tournament, losing to New Zealand and Tonga in the pool phase and struggling to beat 14-man Wales in the semi-finals.

They do, however, have a history of handing out memorable beatings to the All Blacks in the World Cup and were the last team to beat the hosts at their Eden Park fortress in 1994.

"We have not had a great tournament but we are in the final," Pape said. "When you play sport, the focus is always on the title.

"This is the World Cup final and if there is any fear we might as well not bother turning up," the 31-year-old added.

"The motivation is extreme. We can't fear this match. We know the French are behind us despite everything."

Pape, who made his international debut in 2004, has been an irregular starter under coach Marc Lievremont but was in the French side that beat the All Blacks in Dunedin in 2009.

He also played in the pool match at Eden Park when France were the better side for the first 10 minutes - before Adam Thomson scored a try and New Zealand eventually ran out easy 37-17 winners.

The All Blacks have improved further since then and unleashed a ferocious onslaught in the semi-finals to overwhelm Australia, one of the few other teams to have beaten them in recent years.

"The bar is very high and, if we do not follow through, there will be problems," Pape added. "It is up to us to do a lot better. We have to play better than the rugby we played against them in the pool stage."

Flank Julien Bonnaire, who played in that match as well as France's 2007 World Cup upset of the All Blacks, said the hosts boasted a "complete" team and France would need to sustain pressure on them for the full 80 minutes.

"They are all great players, and not just the back row, the team as a whole," the 33-year-old said.

"They are tough in terms of impact and they have solid defence. They have it all and good for them. They will be everywhere on the pitch and we have nothing to lose.

"We will need a perfect match."

The rangy flank, who will win his 70th cap on Sunday, also said the French must not be intimidated by taking on the All Blacks in front of a partisan crowd of 60 000.

"We should not be afraid of winning," he said. "We have great qualities ourselves. We can't give up at all until the last minute."


  • Barry - 2011-10-20 09:39

    Great balanced article. Go France !!

  • kevin.rack - 2011-10-20 09:51

    Not this time. The AB's, due to Paddylove, will be unstoppable. France could win only if: Maybe, just maybe for once, if untouchable Ritchie Mccaw gets pinged like Poccock then yes. Look how Pocock killed South Africa and Ritchie is a million times better. But Sir Ritchie tackles players off the ball, obstructs players and plays the ball on the ground will run riot as the French dont have any player that can counter him. France might have one of the strongest centres in the wolrd but he always cuts back in leaving the players on the outside with the overlap cold. They have failed many times to exploit the overlap. France will fall apart and resort to dirty play as soon as the refs calls go against them. South Africa or Wales would have done the deed but we know how that ended. Well done to the people New Zealand for staging a great event with one of the best opening ceremonies I have ever seen. But well done to the idiots at the IRB for making this one RWC remembered for all the wrong reasons as many a fan will not be there for the next one.

      Skwertno1 - 2011-10-20 18:54

      @Kevin, I agree with the 1st part, upto, France will fall apart...... yes, if they play like they have in this tournament. But. Should they play 'outta their sox' and the Saffa ref sees Sir R, and does what he does best, I think they may well be in with a chance. We shall see Sunday. Keudos for YR balance comments, too many unbalanced idiots who voice their tripe on this forum. France by 12

      Barry - 2011-10-20 20:13

      At least we know it will be a good reffing game. I got so much respect for Craig Joubert and his abilities to ref the game. It all depends on which French side pitches up on Sunday. I really think they know this playing in the RWC final is not something that is easy to get to. We could be in for a titanic struggle on Sunday. I hope so. Just so you know who I support. Go France !!

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