Rugby World Cup 2011

What French team will pitch?

2011-10-09 08:24
Marc Lievremont (AP)

Auckland - The Welsh face an almost impossible task in guessing what sort of French side they will face in next week's rugby World Cup semi-final, for the French themselves have no idea.

"We're capable of great things and then of being catastrophic afterwards," prop Jean-Baptiste Poux told reporters following their 19-12 quarter-final victory over England at Eden Park.

"It's the French way, not just in sport. It's the same everywhere. But it also means we're capable of producing upsets."

French coach Marc Lievremont issued the same warning. "History has shown that, after a tough win where anger and pride were shown, despite the talent of each generation, there has been a failure.

"I hope we manage to do it this time. We don't know how to do that yet."

Poux, a veteran of the 2003 and 2007 World Cup campaigns, said he had not been remotely fazed by the reported infighting and internal strife in the camp.

"We're French, we moan about a lot of things," he said. "When things weren't going so well, we were asking ourselves, 'Is it the organisers? Is it this or is it that?'

"In fact, it was us. So, when things are not going well you often can get little factions or groups forming. But I knew there were players of talent in this squad.

"We tried to be organised (from the beginning of the tournament), but I don't think it suits us. We tried to put things into place before the tournament, but we realised that it doesn't work unless we put our all into everything.

"Our strength is to give everything collectively ... we don't have this Anglo-Saxon culture where everyone prepares in their own way - we have to give everything together."

French captain Thierry Dusautoir agreed that the victory over England had been the result of a collective will.

"I don't know whether we have shown some very high quality rugby or not, but we have seen how much the 22 players on the team wanted to exist," he said.

"We feel much better right now than last week at the same time," he laughed, referring to the French loss to Tonga.

"Right after the match was over, we started to talk about the match against Wales because many of us were in the team in 2007 (when they lost the semi-final against England) and we don't want to fall into too much euphoria."


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